Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Kiss Heard Round the World

Bryce Harper is an asshole. He's a big, fat, awesomely talented, ass-kicking, sonofabitch asshole. And we got him. The Phillies don't. The Yankees don't. The Nationals do. And that's why I love him.

OK, so backing up a bit. We've been hearing for over a year that Harper has "makeup issues." People say he's cocky and too often shows up opponents.

But there are makeup issues, and then there are makeup issues. And sometimes, as Elijah Dukes once said, "makeup is the stuff they make up about you."

The question in Harper's case isn't whether he's cocky or not. Obviously he is. But so were Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Bob Gibson, Babe Ruth... heck, how can you perform at the level these guys perform if you aren't supremely confident in a way that most of us would consider kind of off-putting if we had them over for dinner?

The question is whether his arrogance translates to laziness and/or an inability to deal with adversity. Ryan Leaf was arrogant--and as a result, he didn't work and he couldn't deal with failure.

We don't really know yet whether Harper will be able to handle failure. But we do know that he's far from lazy. Every indication is that he not only believes he's the best--he's also driven to do what it takes to prove it. That's the kind of asshole you win championships with.

Now, as for the blown kiss. We don't know the real story here. The camera shots we've seen have only shown Harper rounding the bases Wilson Ramos-speed and blowing the smooch. We don't know whether the pitcher was talking shit or how much went down before that moment. @bharpsis4534 says there were two sides of the story, and I suspect that's probably true.

But here's what I liked about it. First, the kiss felt to me like it was Harper first and foremost having fun. He loves the game, loves to compete, and loves to win. Was it polite? Ideal sportsmanship? No. But it also didn't seem mean-spirited. It seemed playful, not angry or petulant. I kinda thought it was charming.

Second, I like that he talked shit after he hit a home run. Muhammed Ali said, "it ain't braggin' if it's true." Yes, I know, Ali was a boxer, not a baseball player, but I think MLB would be better off if it had more Alis and a fewer milquetoast, corporate-packaged Derek Jeter types.

Finally, I like that he plays for my team. And if he's going to kick as many butts in his career as it seems like he will, doggone I kinda hope we get to rub some noses in it. For all the Phillies fan takeovers of Nationals Park and all the losing, we're due to enjoy our wins a little more openly than Miss Manners might approve of.


adamvonblon said...

Loved the post, and I agree with everything you said! I too think if the MLB had just a fraction of the NBA / NFL's "sportsmanship", it would do a whole lot better as far as ratings.

Although I guess for every smooch, jersey pop, and I-can't-feel-my-face, there's a 90mph fastball waiting to plunk you in the ribs, so I can't blame the players for their obnoxiously proper etiquette.

dcdingo said...

Nice post. I still have a lot to learn about baseball but when it comes down to this etiquette stuff I get flashbacks to cricket. Why don't we have "tea" in the middle of the seventh inning? The players could spread blankets on the infield and have scones together. What bunk. I'll be yelling obnoxiously in the stands at Phillie fans come Harper's debut.

DCJohn said...

I hope to live for the day when Bryce Harper hits a three homer against the Phillies and all the Nats fans turn to the Phillies fans who show up and we blow them a kiss as Bryce rounds the bases. I hope the kiss becocmes our "Tomahawk Chop"

Todd Boss said...

Hagerstown gamer in the Herald-Mail says that the opposing pitcher did the puckering first.

Of course, lost in all of this is this simple fact: if Harper indeed was the initiator, why didn't he get hit during his next at bat? Is it because the other team knew they were the provoking party?

I did a posting a while back about the huge bulls-eye that Harper has on his back ( and the same issues remain today. If Harper reacts to any of the provocations, then he has make up and character issues. He's in a no win situation. The only think he needs to learn is to not react.

Though, somehow I'm guessing that he's only reacting because he's fed up with so much back-talk.

Some MLB vet (can't remember who) says that eventually Harper will reach the bigs and nobody will talk to him, since they're all pros and they're all the best at what they do. One can only hope that day just gets here so we stop hearing about how some going-nowhere punk low-A pitcher provoked Harper into some other ridiculous reaction.

Steven said...

I can't remember the last time I did a post that got no heckles at all. Aren't there any Nationals fans who think Harper's a terrible guy?

Roberto said...

Nope, no Nats fans bashing Harper today.

Section 222 said...

The only people bashing Harper are sportswriters trying to stir things up or earn their "play the game the right way" stripes and fans of other teams. Nats fans think: "He's ours, you can't have him, and we don't give a crap about this stuff no matter how much you whine about it."