Last week I read where Bryce Harper’s on-field hustle was starting to annoy former St. Louis Cardinals catcher and Fox broadcaster Tim McCarver. McCarver is not alone in that sentiment as I hear that type of animosity from MLB fans towards Harper all the time. Make no mistake; there are some MLB players who feel that way too. Look no further than the Cole Hamels incident to see that. Bryce Harper has quickly become one of the most polarizing professional athletes in the nation with those who love him and those who love to hate him. At the moment, he’s Tim Tebow-lite…
The way I see it is that anyone who hates a 19-year old kid is simply jealous. Harper has undoubtedly lived an entitled teenage life and that doesn’t sit well with many people. From where I sit however, the kid clearly has special talents and I’m willing to wait until he becomes an adult before I pass judgment on him. For crying out loud, have some patience. Heck, it won’t be until October 16, 2014, but let’s at least wait until the kid turns 21 and is able to share a beer with his teammates before we start to make any conclusions about him as a person. We complain when MLB players make millions and don’t hustle and now we are going to complain that a guy hustles too much?
Apparently the fact that Harper’s hustle is already being compared to Pete Rose is an insult to his detractors. In the Tim McCarver interview, he openly wonders when someone will talk to Harper about slowing down.
“When the ball is hit 15 feet foul, and he’s on second base,” McCarver says, “it’s time to talk. I understand youthful enthusiasm, but it’s unbridled enthusiasm….”
With all the focus on everything this kid does, it seems to me that he’s holding up pretty well. He’s as discipline if not more than many veterans. One look at how many balls he hits the other way will tell you that. And as for his on-field performance, he’s already lumped into an elite class with Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Al Kaline, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Robinson, and Mickey Mantle.
I like the hustle, it’s refreshing. I do agree with McCarver on one thing however. Someone needs to talk to him…
Take a look at this picture… It’s from the 7th inning of last night Washington Nationals 5-3 win over the New York Mets. The picture shows Harper stealing second base. As pointed out on last night’s Mets telecast, Harper is holding his batting gloves in his hands. Veteran players often do this so that when they slide feet first that their hands stay in a fist and they don’t hurt their fingers making contact with the ground when they slide. Picking up the veteran act of holding the gloves is fine, but someone needs to tell him that if he then slides head first with his hands in a fist, he can’t grab the base as he slides into it!
The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.