Bryce Harper — younger-than-Kris Bryant-Bryce Harper, younger-than-Joc Pederson-Bryce Harper, younger-than-Blake Swihart-Bryce Harper — has been doing some nifty things with the bat lately for the Washington Nationals. Yesterday, he hit his sixth home run in three games, which makes him the first player to do so since Hee-Seop Choi did so in 2005. When you match Hee-Seop Choi, you know you have truly arrived as a baseball player.
Harper only hit one home run yesterday, but it was a doozy — a walk-off to send the Nationals past the Atlanta Braves 8-6. Poor Cody Martin recoils in pain upon seeing Bryce Harper deposit his ankle-high curveball 420 feet away in centerfield. I actually feel kind of bad for the guy seeing him hunched over on the mound in disbelief.
Warning: if you hate bat flips and players not acting like they’ve been there before, watch only the first 30 seconds of the clip.
Following Harper’s arrival at home plate, he was given the Max Scherzer chocolate syrup treatment. I really hope this catches on and replaces the played out whipped cream pie to the face.
All in all, it was a pretty irreverent display by Harper and the Nationals, and I could care less. In my lifetime, I have struck exactly three baseballs with the right combination of force and luck that made me pause in the batter’s box. What I did following impact could probably best be described as part Sammy Sosa hop, part Yasiel Puig bat flip, and all David Ortiz showboat. If Bryce Harper wants to do the same thing after hitting a game ending moonshot in front of 39,000 fans, who am I to tell him differently.
In another era, Harper would probably find himself feeling a bit sore today from a fastball to the ribs. I hope that is not the case. Other sports have showed us as baseball fans, that is time to move on from the Good Ol’ Days where players put their heads down and kept their emotions in check. Blake Griffin does not turn and run up the court like George Mikan after posterizing Timofey Mozgov, does he?
I like hitters flipping their bats or slamming their helmets after a strikeout just as much as I love a pitcher pounding his chest after escaping a tough situation (Fernando Rodney‘s bow-and-arrow routine is pretty awesome if you ask me), and I want to see more of it. These displays of emotion humanize the athletes we have put on a pedestal. That Bryce Harper is being paid millions of dollars to play a child’s game, does not mean he should suppress his emotions in a way that makes it impossible for the fans watching at home to identify with him.
I know not everyone will agree with me, but before you bash a player like Bryce Harper, try and put yourself in his shoes. If you would honestly gently set your bat down and go about your business, then continue bashing. If like me, you would do several cartwheels before touching home plate, just continue basking in the spectacular glory of yesterday’s bat flipping, chocolate syrup covered walk-off, because the best is still yet to come for Bryce Harper.
There is no player in the MLB hotter than Harper right now. Use Hipmunk.com to catch any Nationals game, at home or on the road, with flights to and from Washington D.C., including hotels in Washington D.C. starting from $97 to catch multiple games in a series. Bring a glove, as Harper will most likely find it beyond the outfield walls.