In an interview by Tim Keown for ESPN The Magazine, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper said this about baseball: “It’s a tired sport. You can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do.”
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Sorry to burst the bubbles of all the young, hip, progressive baseball fans out there, but the game is just fine the way it is..
Every generation tries to fine-tune sports and entertainment. Most often, they find that the product was fine the way it was. Not all things get better with change, and just because a superstar in the game of baseball doesn’t enjoy the rules of the game does not mean that we change them.
Harper says in the piece that he would like the ability to taunt his opponent after hitting a home run. Here is the direct quote:
“Jose Fernandez is a great example. 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.”
He is actually associating fist pumps and in your face gestures to Stephen Curry, one of the least boisterous person on an NBA court. And to compare the NFL to the major leagues is also laughable. Players in the NFL are always getting taunting penalties and fines for behavior not acceptable.
The news that one of the best players in the game is not happy with the state of the game is sad. But it is no justification for making any changes to make it more exciting. The game has lasted this long for a reason. It isn’t a highly volatile game, and knee-jerk reactions are the last thing the game needs.
Teaching the youth to respect the game and play it the proper way is how you increase future fans and players. Show them that your opponent should be respected just as your teammates are. Promoting taunting when you make a good play or hit one out sends the wrong message.
Here is a video from an entirely different point of view from another Fansider:
Hopefully players like Bryce Harper learn to love the game as it is today. Subtle changes have helped move the sport along, but a 2-2 game in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, and your best hitter coming up is plenty exciting for me.
Watching superstars like Buster Posey for the Giants, and Curry with the Golden State Warriors, you understand that not all gifted athletes need to gloat about their achievements and get in the face of the opposition.
With concussions affecting football, and basketball ticket prices where they are, baseball is primed to attract more and more fans in the coming years. It is the job of the players to set a good example for those that will replace them. Do parents really want their kids to see taunting on the field on a regular basis? A good quiet stare down is one thing, but allowing gestures meant to taunt the opponent is disrespectful to the game.