Bryce Harper has the talent to be a great player in the major leagues. However, is it fair that because of the hype that surrounded him from the time he was a 16-year-old high school baseball player, that his every move on-and-off the diamond will be put under a microscope by the media to dissect and critique?
On the last episode of the “T.J. McAloon and the Sports Half Hour” the topic of Harper and the media's treatment of the talented rookie was discussed.
When Harper was called, “Baseball’s Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci as a high school player, it put a target on his back as someone who had to be the best player on the field at all times.
In only two years, Harper has risen through the Nationals farm system to become an everyday starter. However, through his short stint in the Minor Leagues, he still had his run-ins with opposing players that were on display for everyone to see. For example, when he blew a kiss to an opposing player after hitting a home run in Single-A ball.
Would this have been as popular of a clip if any other player would have done this in A-ball? Or, was it because it was Harper that the action was blown up to make him look like a player who was immature.
Just recently, Harper has taken criticism for getting hit in the face by a broken part of a wooden bat after bashing it into a metal door. Harper needed 10 stitches to close the wound on his face, but didn’t miss any time due to the injury.
The act of baseball players getting frustrated after a play isn’t new, just like it isn’t uncommon to see a player take a bat to a door in the dugout.
Nationals manager, Davey Johnson, said that something like this is very common when addressing the Washington Post:
“I didn’t think much about it,” Johnson said. “We put a band-aid on it, one of those butterflies. That’s what ballplayers do—break bats, throw helmets. That’s not anything new.”
But, because it was Harper, this non-story became something that was covered heavily due to the hype surrounding him.
Harper is only 19 years old and should have a career that lasts over 15 seasons. However, in only one month with the Nationals, Harper has had two major stories revolve around him.
Is it fair to scrutinize Harper for every little thing he does, or should the media relax and treat him like any other rookie player?