Much has been said about Bryce Harper in the beginning of what looks to be a historic career in the making. In the first 9 games he played, MLB analysts started comparing him to the great number 7, Mickey Mantle. And this year, many have been breaking down the unconventional swing of Bryce Harper and comparing him to the great Babe Ruth. Anyone that knows me knows that I am not one to speculate on the greatness of a player. Also, over my years of playing and training with some of the best minds in baseball I have learned what to look for in a great player. I am by no means an expert or feel like I will ever know anything more then speculation, but I will stake my baseball reputation that Bryce Harper going to save the game of baseball.
Bryce Harper plays the game with a passion that can only be compared to that of Pete Rose. He has the grace and talent of the great Mickey Mantle. And may just be the reincarnation of the greatest hitter of all time, Babe Ruth. These are big words for a player that has only played one full season. I could spit stats and talk about his swing mechanics and crap like that, but that is not the soul of the game. Vin Scully said it best, “Baseball people us stats like drunks use lampposts – for support, not illumination.”
To truly understand Bryce Harper and his greatness you must watch Bryce Harper play the game. Not too long ago I was that guy saying Harper needed to “grow up” and play the game like a professional. I could not have been more wrong. I look at myself as someone who calls himself a purist of the game and was very upset with the fact I could even think of changing a player like Harper. When did I forget that playing the game with a chip on your shoulder and a swagger fit for a king wasn’t a bad thing? What I used to call arrogance, I now see as confidence.
You can’t play professional sports and be the “great one” without a confidence and belief that you are the one who’s shit don’t stink. But you must be humble enough to take your lickings in stride and keep on moving forward. Harper has proven he is more than capable of this. He went through a 2-month slump last year, but he gritted through it and had a September for the ages. Harper was said to struggle with the off-speed pitch and be over aggressive. This year he is walking more and from what I can see has not struggled with the off-speed pitch much.
What do I mean by Harper is going to save baseball?
Over years this thing called the steroid era has plagued us. For a short time, I stopped watching baseball because of this. The game I love, played my whole life and I didn’t want to turn the TV on because I felt they were all liars and cheats. But I starting hearing rumors about this kid who was playing the game with old school class and chip on his shoulder. So I watched again. When I watched Harper play the game, I was kid again. He is the Modern Day Classic I was waiting for.
Harper is the player that runs everything out, that turns singles into doubles, and doubles into triples. The player that feels leaving the game without dirt on your uniform means you didn’t play. That feels every play is the play that will change that game. That is never satisfied with losing. That looks to be the greatest but, respects the players of the past, and strives NOT to be like them but better than them.
Harper is without question the new breed. He is the player of a new generation of baseball, like Tiger Woods is to golf.
Bryce Harper will make baseball a sport that the youth of America wants to play again. The days of Mickey Mantle, Willy Mays, Pete Rose, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth may be over, but I am proud to say the days of Bryce Harper are just getting started.
Many will disagree with what I am saying, but Harper gave me back the game I love, and I will always be grateful for that.