By Maria Santora 3/11/2016
Baseball is regarded as one of America’s favorite pastimes, but Washington Nationals slugger, Bryce Harper is challenging that.
Harper calls baseball a “tired sport” in an interview with Tim Keown of ESPN The Magazine, and discusses how young, flashy players like himself are criticized for showing personality or adding flair to their game.
“You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is boring or anything like that,” says Harper. “But it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob DeGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Perderson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig- there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.”
Jose Fernandez, the Ace for the Miami Marlins, was a player Harper specifically says other player should try to emulate.
“Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn’t care. Because you got him. That’s part of the game. It’s not the old feeling if you pimp a homer, I’m not going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot… I mean, sorry,” Harper asserts.
At least in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse, the feelings on the proposed culture change are mixed.
“I don’t really understand what that means as far as being a tired sport,” says Sean Newcomb. “I mean it’s the greatest sport there is but as far as showing your flair, for me personally I’m a more quiet person. I’m getting my job done and moving on with my life. I don’t try to do anything crazy to get my name out there or anything crazy like that. So, I guess I’m kind of more old school.”
On the other hand, players such as Matt Wisler, waiver more on the side of having a new school approach and adding personality.
“If a guys excited in a big moment of the game showing a little emotion is not going to bother me,” Wisler says. “If I had a big situation, if I get an out, I’m gonna be pretty pumped up so if someone gets a hit off me then I can’t really say much. He just beat me in that opportunity.”
Wisler, however does think showing flair and emotion is all about the right timing, claiming,“If it’s a 6-0 ball game and somebody pimps a home-run in the sixth, it’s like ‘alright what are you really doing?’ There’s a lot of emotion that goes in the game and we want to play with emotion so it makes the game more exciting, so if it’s a certain part of the game and there’s a big hit or a big out I have no problem with it,” he said.
With Opening Day around the corner, one thing’s for sure, all eyes will be on Harper and the young core of players in the MLB to see just how much flair and personality they show.