Bryce Harper: Why the Immaturity of the Nationals' Phenom Is a Big Concern

Rich StoweAnalyst IIIJune 8, 2011

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Washington Nationals prospect Bryce Harper #34 playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions warms up on deck during the AZ Fall League game against the Phoenix Desert Dogs at Scottsdale Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Bryce Harper's latest display of immaturity is a major concern in my opinion.  This is just the latest display of immaturity and my colleague here at Bleacher Report, Shaun McPartlin, lists his top 10 such displays.

So far Harper has backed up his immaturity on the field with superb play.  However, if he continues to do things like that, it will end up causing major issues eventually.  If he blows a kiss to a major league pitcher, it may start a brawl right then and there. It will definitely result in either Harper getting drilled by a pitch later in the game or the next batter to get drilled instead, and that will start a brawl and result in numerous suspensions.

It's one thing to flip the bat like Boston's David Ortiz did in last night's game against the New York Yankees. It's another to directly target the pitcher with a display like that.

Mike Schmidt was 100 percent correct on SportsCenter when he said that Harper needs to "tone it down and play the game," and that Harper needs to "just hit your home runs and and hit 'em like you're used to hitting 'em, not like you're surprised when you hit one."  Schmidt, when asked what would happen if he acted like that in the major leagues, also said "the benches would clear and if someone doesn't police this young man, the game will end up taking care of it."

Fans love cocky players,. However, there's a line that, if crossed, will cause fans to stop appreciating the antics.  The better you play, the more immaturity you can get away with, and this is what is saving Harper right now (and the fact that at the Single-A level, no one really cares yet).

What is the biggest knock against a player like Alex Rodriguez?  That sometimes he is "immature," whether it's slapping the glove of an opposing player or yelling to an infielder on a pop-up.

What's the one thing that no one criticizes a player like Derek Jeter for?  That his maturity level is considered beyond reproach.  Jeter never shows up an opposing player.

Harper needs to start acting like he's done this before.  Harper needs to be more like Barry Sanders scoring a touchdown and less like some no-name third string wide receiver celebrating a two-yard catch for a first down while his team is losing by 20 points.

Bryce Harper may one day be considered one of the greatest players in baseball history, but if he doesn't change his ways, he'll be remembered more for his immature attitude than anything he accomplishes with his bat or glove.