Bryce Harper: The Asshole Cometh

It's easy to fall into the trap of believing all the hype that's written about you...

Word hit the Twittersphere just a few short moments ago.

Prepare thyself, for the Asshole cometh.

Okay, it really read “Nationals place Ryan Zimmerman on the 15 day DL and recall outfielder Bryce Harper from AAA”.

But it might as well have read the way I put it.

By now anyone who follows baseball has heard of Bryce Harper.

You’ve heard about his power to all fields, his ability to hit for average, his arm, his discerning eye at the plate and so on, but unfortunately those are not the only things we have discovered about this young man.

The 2010  season’s No. 1 overall pick by the Washington Nationals was at the center of multiple bench-clearing incidents in minor league games last year.

One of these involved Harper and the opposing pitcher exchanging words after Harper took a called third strike. No punches were thrown and nobody was ejected, but it looked like it was about to get real ugly, real fast.

Harper hit a home run prior to the strikeout and seemed amazed the umpire dared to question his knowledge of the strike zone when called out. When the opposing pitcher reminded him where the bench was located at, the fuse was lit and it was “on”.

Later in the season the young phenom hit a towering home run off an opposing pitcher then not only admired his handy work, but was arrogant enough to blow a kiss at the man standing on the mound.

Hardly the actions of a professional let alone someone whom the Nationals would have us believe is “mature beyond his years”.

Should we be surprised by any of this? Hardly. It never was production that worried people about Harper. It was his attitude.

He showed tendencies to yell at opposing players, teammates and umpires, and he was ejected from a game in the Junior College World Series in 2010 after drawing a line in the dirt in the batter’s box to show an umpire that a called strike was outside. It was his second ejection of the season and earned him a two-game suspension, seriously compromising his teams chances in the event.

None of this can really be described as unexpected.

At 16, Las Vegas wunderkind Bryce Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as “Baseball’s Chosen One” .

He left high school after his sophomore year to get his GED so he could play at the junior college level in order to get better competition and a spot as the No. 1 pick of the 2010 Major League Baseball draft.

At the time of MLB draft he was tearing things up at the College of Southern Nevada, Through 47 games, playing catcher, third base and outfield, he had hit (with a wood bat) .410 with 21 homers, 59 RBI and a 1.414 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging.)

Those are numbers only those like Babe Ruth and Ted Williams ever saw people.

But he also had one great, big, gargantuan drawback at the time.

Not only is Harper have the superstar numbers, but he also has the superstar attitude: raging friggin’ asshole. Apparently most major league teams were completely put off by his personality, which is saying something, because it’s an upset when an elite athlete isn’t a raging friggin’ asshole.

(And this is why so many people in baseball love you Derek Jeter.)

There was this from Baseball Prospectus before Harper was drafted:

“It’s impossible to find any talent evaluator who isn’t blown away by Harper’s ability on the field, but it’s equally difficult to find one who doesn’t genuinely dislike the kid.

“One scout called him among the worst amateur players he’s ever seen from a makeup standpoint, with top-of-the-scale arrogance, a disturbingly large sense of entitlement, and on-field behavior that includes taunting opponents.”

“He’s just a bad, bad guy,” one front-office official told Baseball Prospectus. “He’s basically the anti-Joe Mauer.”

I want you to let that sink in. The anti-Joe Mauer.

You don’t hear people described in these ways any more.

You just don’t.

And you certainly don’t hear professional scouts take such strong positions on a player’s make-up. Sure it is part of their job to measure such things the best they can and to froward the information on to their organization in order for it to make the best decision possible, but you just don’t see them go this far out of their way question a player’s make-up as a human being.

Now granted, when you’re this good this early, people are going to look for flaws in your game and makeup that might turn you from prodigy to failure in the blink of an eye. Fair enough.

Baseball Prospectus obviously did just that, and found, physically, there was no reason for Harper not to be the GREATEST FREAKIN’ PLAYER WE’VE EVER SEEN!

OK, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but the worst they could find was that there is a slight chance the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Harper could get too big too early in life, and thus become slow and have little range in the field.

That wasn’t enough of a risk for the Nationals to turn him down. Sadly. Because it damn sure seems like he could stand to be taken down a notch or two.

To be fair to Harper, he has mega-super-duper-asshole-agent Scott Boras as an “adviser,” so he’s been able to learn arrogance at the feet of a master. Also, being the prodigy he is, Harper has had a wide clearance to be as much of a raging friggin’ asshole as he chooses to be.

Most teams let their superstars be any personality they want, at least for about a half decade or so like Boston did with their “oh, that’s just Manny being Manny” bullshit.

The bench warmers who are raging friggin’ assholes, on the other hand, are the ones who get tossed for their bad attitudes.

You might say that perhaps Bryce Harper’s parents should pull him aside and tell him to be a little nicer, and maybe they have.

But I’m sure a parent of any 19-year-old would say it’s an immense chore trying to stop their own child from being a raging friggin’ asshole, much less a child who has Scott Boras in his pocket and was at the top of the Major League Baseball draft.

Whether Harper’s raging friggin’ asshole act fizzles after he gets the big call-up  to the show depends pretty much on one thing, and it is applicable even if your child is a raging friggin’ asshole making the superstar move up from 9-year-old basketball to 10-year-old basketball.

How will that attitude play out the first time Harper runs into hard times at the big league level, where the lights shine bright? That could be a hitting slump, a fielding slump, a teammate who is fighting to keep his own place as big dog of the roster, a coach who hates him and so on.

If Harper shows he can adjust and make it through a difficult time without completely melting down, he’ll do well, not only as a player, but also as a person with his teammates and coaches.

If not, then things could “get interesting”.

Some try to argue that one can also ask whether coaches and teammates believe Harper’s raging friggin’ asshole act is, in the end, good for the team. Michael Jordan was no picnic they say, but his teammates learned that if you did what he said, he would make you famous and win you championships.

This one I’m not buying into really.

Baseball isn’t like basketball, or even football, where one incredible player can put a team on his back and carry them to the promised land.

On the off occasion where it has happened it has always been a starting pitcher, a la Orel Hershiser at the end of 1988 and heading into the playoffs that year. While everyone chooses to remember the dramatic Kirk Gibson homerun form that year, it was “The Bulldog” that was absolutely phenomenal.

14 starts, 124.2 Innings Pitched. IP/Start 8.89 (yeah, you read that right), 10 Wins/1 Loss, 1 Save (in the NLCS when he snuck into the bullpen and warmed up on his own), only 73 Hits allowed, 9 Earned Runs yielded, 18 Walks vs 89 K’s and a microscopic ERA of 0.65.

A hitter cannot do that.

They can play a huge role. They can be the leader of a team. But they simply cannot command a game (or even an entire series) like a pitcher can.

If so, Albert Pujols would have 5 or 6 World Series rings so far in his career because THAT guy is not human. (Really Albert? Almost 2000 walks & extra base hits combined in your career and less than 650 K’s in that same period of time?)

Nope, when Harper gets to the pro level, there are going to be people who are well aware of this fact and they will be lining up for the chance to shove his raging friggin’ asshole act back down his throat.

And I for one, hope I get to see it firsthand.

UPDATE: Cole Hamels must have read my mind. In case you missed it, last night Mr. Hamels found himself in the ideal situation to send such a message. Two down, bases empty in the first inning. He did it the right way and didn’t go head hunting, but put one right in the kids ribs. Well, it would have been in the ribs had he not turned as much so it kind of got him in the small of the back. This then led to Nationals GM Mike Rizzo whinin’ & throwing quite the hissy fit.

17 Comments

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I watched this kid play high school ball. He would not have went to college if the opposing teams would have pitched to him. But, no coach in their right mind would. It’s not like he was going to be an academic……, he was an all sports kid, until he had to narrow it down to one or two. This kid has always played with the older kids, and had to get an attitude quick, or get ran over. Asshole bloggers like yourself are a dime a dozen, and transparent as glass. I am certain we will see the asshole blogger goeth sooner than “the asshole cometh”.

You are priceless. Make any excuse for a person being a fucking jackass with no class. But hey, if you don’t have integrity yourself it’s hard to spot when others are missing it too, huh?

I love how you hold against other teams for taking the smart tactical route and pitching around the best offensive player on his HS team (him). So not only are you a low class douche who thinks it’s acceptable to be a fucking asshole, as long as you’re a good athlete that is, but you also think teams should lose ball games just to show they have some onions by pitching to the kid?

None of your “insights” either dispute what many, many scouts (who are well paid professionals at evaluating talent) had written about the kid. None of them wipe away the fact that his craptastic behavior on display in the minors did nothing to change that opinion of him. He was the same old asshat.

In a nutshell, your whole point is “he’s an athlete, a damn good one, he’s entitled to be a douche”.

Now run along and beat your wife, lick the windows on your trailer and all that other stuff dumb assclowns like you do.

Cute try at a play on words too, but you missed one point.

The asshole (Harper) has already arrived and bloggers have yet to “goeth”. Do I need to explain why that makes your attempt at being clever pretty damn stupid?

No excuse required. In your lame ass reporting of the Cole Hamels message to Bryce, you show what a true low life you are by not reporting the rest of the story. Integrity eh? He showed more class than most would have, and dealt with it the proper way…with his play. I guess integrity really is hard to spot, especially for you, when it doesn’t serve your interest. But, integrity would probably just impede your quest for the top of the bottom-feeding blogger list. So, it’s good you know your limitations.
I gave you one of the reasons he went to college early. It was not “holding against” the other teams, as I would have done the same thing. However, in your haste to reach lowest common denominator blogging, you rushed to a conclusion not supported by the facts. If he wanted at bats, JC was where he was going to get them, along with gaining experience with wood bats. But, don’t let facts or integrity interfere with your moronic dribble….you are gaining ground on that coveted top spot…..
So, when you go back to your room, and spank that little monkey you must have…close your eyes and get off dreaming of becoming the blogger we know all know you can be. That’s as close to a sex partner as you will ever have, that isn’t related to you anyway. Also, be thankful the room your parents continue to provide for you has internet service so you don’t feel the pressure of creating something of value. I predict a bright future for you in any public supported sector you choose, probably unemployment. Enjoy!!!

DJPOST! is right on the money! Dennis, you are a tool… go study some more stats, idiot!!!

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sounds like the asshole cameth and his name is djpostl.

Rofl, real original. Yeah, it’s not like the guy was a raging asshole in Junior College, came to the pros (and yes, the minor leagues is a professional level of the sport) and carried on being the raging jackass he had always been.

Oh wait. He did.

Way to go not addressing the actual documented behavior a douche bag.

Then again, if you have zero class or dignity I don’t expect you to notice when it’s absent in this kid’s make up.

this is just BS – Harper has been a great teammate so far. Very humble (in at least 4 long interviews). And, while taking some photo’s for the team, was on the national Mall and took an at bat at a co-ed softball game going on (he was asked to by the team’s SS). Talked to everyone, waited for pictures to be taken and could not have been any nicer. If this is an “a-hole” let’s hope your team gets 10 like him. Plays hard, does not loaf, and is respectful of the game and his teammates. Yeah, he got hit deliberately by Hamels (who admitted he intentionally threw at him). Harper’s response, run to first, go to third and then steal home off Hamels (after timing Hamels slow motion move to first) – a very head’s up play. Then make a diving catch to prevent a run from scoring from third and then to top it off, hustles for a 2B on a bloop hit just past the infield. After the game, he laughed off the HBP and said it was “just baseball” and that Hamels is a “great pitcher.” Gee sounds like a jerk to me. Somebody owes someone an apology (if you have the guts) and it ain’t Harper.

I tip my hat to what the young man has done in the brief time he has been up. I really do. But does that dismiss things he did just last year, like blowing kisses at pitchers after hitting homeruns?

Hell no.

He wasn’t a high school kid when he did it. He wasn’t in Junior College when he did it. He was a apid athlete when he did it. A “pro”.

So in regards to the “body of work” that is his character, it is 100% on point.

Here’s to hoping he has both grown up a bit & the sanitization the Nationals have been doing (like insisting he shut down his Twitter account for obvious reasons) has taken hold.

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Horrible opinion piece.

Other than the fact it is laced with actual events that happened you might be right.

No, this is really awful.

Bryce is pure aggressive youthful energy
As a Nats fan, I’m not asking him to walk on water or be president. Just play ball. As far as attitude goes…..hell… He’s a teenager. Show me one that doesn’t have one……and by the way, who died and made you God anyway?

Gotta love sports fans.

Willing to overlook the asshole in everyone…so long as they wear their favorite teams uniform.

P.S. calling someone out for craptastic behavior doesn’t make one “God” or even a person who “thinks they are God”. If you actually think that then you’re part of the overall problem. Stop lowering standards why don’t ya?

Gotta love Douche J. Postal. Willing to overlook the asshole in himself…. so long as he can continue his horribly inaccurate blogging unabated. I thought I’d give him an off season to review his commentary, but unlike Bryce, he didn’t learn anything in the last year. Faced with what is now a historic first partial season in the majors, our blogger doesn’t see fit to recognize what teammates, managers and opposing players do. He was overwhelmingly accepted and welcomed. He definitely had his dumbass moments, as we all did as a 19 year old. But, even while dealing with them in a white hot spotlight, he did a pretty good job of staying level headed and let his play and attitude speak for him. On second thought, never mind, Douche J, I forgot there’s no requirement for accuracy or integrity here in the blogosphere.

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