Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Will Bryce Harper Grow Up?

It's interesting to see people my age enter many things. This includes Bryce Harper and his baseball career. He was the first overall pick in the 2010 draft by the Washington Nationals. He makes the big leagues in April 2012 and has continued to play heading into this year. His numbers are respectable, though he could be a little better. The stat line for career numbers is over 700 hits, over 130 home runs, over 130 doubles, four All-Star appearances, Rookie of the Year, and the 2015 NL MVP. Yet, he still finds himself getting suspended.

Eventually, this is going to be tiring. Against the San Francisco Giants on Memorial Day, Harper gets hit by reliever Hunter Strickland. Harper throws his helmet, starts throwing punches and instigates a brawl. Now, there is some bad blood supposedly as Strickland gave up a home run to him back in 2014 when the Nats and Giants met in the playoffs. Harper hit some home runs off of him and just looking at the videos, I didn't notice anything that would be a reason to hit him three years later. Reading SB Nation's article, they didn't face each other last year, or in 2015.

I find that a little strange, but not strange in how Harper reacted. He is still known for a short fuse and people in the Nationals organization have to realize he needs to grow up. Both him and Strickland have been suspended for their actions. Looking at the video of it, it looked intentional. I don't think Strickland lost control. However, it doesn't make any sense. San Francisco won a World Series in 2014, their third in five years. They got the last laugh. You would think it would just be it. This makes Jose Bautista and the Texas Rangers look like freakin saints compared to this.

That being said, Harper needs to control his emotions. Although I don't get Nationals games on TV unless they are on ESPN or Fox, he is still a big deal with sports news outlets. That's to expect for the first overall pick. He and others have led to the Nationals back to relevancy. For 2012, they were in the playoffs for the first time since 1981 when they were the Montreal Expos. They weren't putrid in the from that time until 1994, but the strike hurt them really badly.  Back to Harper, he isn't 20 anymore. Fans are going to expect more out of him and hope that he can calm down. That's what I look at with guys like him and NFL player Odell Beckham. Manager Dusty Baker has seen his share of players and bad outbursts, but I'm not sure if he'll have a lot more patience with him.

Harper could be one of the all time greats if he continues to play like he is right now. He is having a phenomenal 2017, something that is a bit surprising. If he can curb his behavior and calm himself, he could be a name you think of down the road as one of the greatest to have played the game. If he can't keep his emotions in check, the question of when and if he matures will be in the minds of many fans and critics.

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