If you’re an MLB player, there are a lot of things that you’re not supposed to do. For example, flipping your bat after a home run? No. Pumping your fist at a guy after striking him out? No. Showing any kind of emotion that would indicate you are happy to help your team? NO. Seriously, if someone on an MLB team got a big hit or made a big catch to win a game and did this:
He might be banned from the sport forever. Or at the very least, he would likely take a fastball to the back the next time he played against the team that he did it against.
Bryce Harper wants to see that change. Quickly. In a new ESPN The Magazine profile, the Nationals star talks about some of the “unwritten rules” in baseball. You know, the ones that are supposed to protect the integrity of the game and keep the sport wholesome and blah blah blah. In his mind, those rules are one of the things that have made MLB less popular than the NBA and NFL in recent years.
“Baseball’s tired,” he told ESPN The Mag’s Tim Keown. “It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, 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 Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig—there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.”
“Jose Fernandez is a great example,” he continued. “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—hoorah…if you pimp a homer, I’m going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot…I mean—sorry. If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.’ That’s what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players—Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton—I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.”
Harper is…not wrong. MLB remains popular, but there are more and more young people turning to other sports, simply because of all the things Harper talked about in his ESPN The Mag piece. Why would you want to play a sport that is basically set up to force you to act exactly like the guy standing next to you when you could play another sport that allows you to be yourself while you’re playing it? It's something MLB needs to think about moving forward.
Harper’s interview features some other good nuggets, too. He speaks about his perception around the country, the time he shut down a wine-drinking heckler in San Francisco, and more. You can go here to read the entire profile.
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[via ESPN The Magazine]