Just two year ago, at the ripe age of 16, Bryce Harper graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. His legend grew from two mammoth home runs that could only be described by Barney Stinson from the CBS hit show How I met your Mother, as legen-wait for it-dary. Legendary.
A 570-foot home run as a 16-year old followed by the longest home run ever hit at Tropicana Field, a 502-foot blast that only stopped because it slammed against the scoreboard.
Harper has been in the baseball world's mind the last two years, his every move followed.
Already on YouTube, videos are posted of Harper not signing autographs, being ejected, being hot-tempered and being called names out on the field.
An 18-year-old kid has never faced the kind of love and hate that Harper has gone through without yet having played in a major league baseball game.
On Wednesday, Harper didn't help his image that many fans have begun to perceive of him. His being a showboat, punk or arrogant and cocky kid who just happens to be the future face of baseball and easily the most highly-touted high school prospect since Josh Hamilton in 1999 or Alex Rodriguez back in 1994.
On a 3-2 pitch that seemed a bit outside, Harper, who began to walk towards first base, was instead called out on strikes. His reaction wasn't a surprise in the world of sports, but because he's Harper, his reaction suddenly became validation to what detractors have always thought of him.
Back in June, while playing for Single A Hagerstown, Harper blew a kiss to starting pitcher Zachary Neal after blasting a home run in the sixth inning.
The kiss was met with wide criticism from writers and baseball fans who believed that Harper was showboating, especially when most people believe Harper will eventually turn pro in the near future. The thought was, Harper was so much better than Neal and shouldn't rub it in.
What most people didn't know was that Neal spent most of the game staring down at the Hagerstown dugout, which Sports Illustrated recently uncovered in the upcoming issue.
Turns out, Harper wasn't so much showing up a pitcher as he was playing mind games right back with him. Nonetheless, Harper came out with such a bad reputation that he had to explain himself when any other player would have gotten by without much though.
Perception is reality, and right now, the perception of Bryce Harper is that he's a showboating, short tempered, immature kid who ought to spend more time in the minor leagues.
In his last college game, Harper was ejected after arguing a strikeout. In April, after striking out swinging, Harper exchanged words with the opposing pitcher causing benches to clear.
Once again, perception was that Harper was a hothead. What most people didn't see was that the pitcher said something to Harper first, but again, perception on Harper has almost made any reason to react as just an excuse for poor decision making.
The reality is: Harper is just an 18-year-old kid playing professional baseball. He signs autographs for kids, he gets upset with a bad call from the umpire and he's passionate about the game that helped place him on the cover of Sports Illustrated at just 16 years old.