Check out what Bryce Harper did last night:
Over at HardballTalk, Craig Calcaterra wrote a thoughtful and well-reasoned piece about why, if Harper is going to be playing with guys older than he is, he needs to act older than his 18 years. Calcaterra argues that Harper should take the high road and pay back bean-balling Sally League pitchers with home runs.
I say screw it. Take the low road, Bryce Harper. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, by blowing that kiss to that pitcher, Harper flipped over the end of the spectrum from intolerable entitled brat to completely lovable heel. Remember that this is the kid who grew up rooting for the Yankees, Lakers, Cowboys and Duke and who, when asked to describe himself in one word, first considered “gorgeous” then settled on “Hercules.” This is a Shooter McGavin in the making.
And yeah, you know and I know that he’s just a kid and that kids do and say stupid kid things all the time like we did when we were kids, but at this point — with the hype and the money and the expectations and the eye-black and everything — there’s pretty much nothing Harper can do that will endear him in the eyes of baseball fans outside of DC by the time he reaches the Majors, if and when that happens.
Obviously the big drawback is the beanballs, which will likely only pick up as Harper advances and will probably serve to tone down his act a bit in the long run. But make ‘em teach you, Bryce. Admire your moonshots. Maintain that godawful mustache. And maybe armor up a bit. The baseball world needs bad guys, and due to your unique situation, the crosshairs have apparently settled on you. Smile back and blow a kiss. Here’s hoping you make the bigs in time to have A-Rod pass you the torch.