Nationals Baseball: Question for the Weekend : Could you root for a "bad, bad guy"

Friday, April 29, 2011

Question for the Weekend : Could you root for a "bad, bad guy"

Bryce got into a starting staring contest with an opposing pitcher after homering in AB #1 and striking out in AB #2. "Kid" "Spirit" "He can change" yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. It seems to jive with everything people were saying about him. He's basically kind of a jerk. It's easy to see why this is the case - being gifted with major league ability at 16 - but still assuming he stays on target you'll be asked to root for this guy in about 16 months. Will it be a problem for you? Did you turn on Nyjer for being a jerk? Are you RACISTISS?!?! How does this jive with Rizzo's clubhouse philosophy?

For a lot of people it'll depend on talent. If you're good enough for "my" team then I'll root for you (see: Bonds, Barry re: San Francisco). For me, it'll depend on what kind of jerk he is. I couldn't bring myself to root for Roger Clemens when he was on the Yanks. It was always a "Hope they win 11-10 tonight" situation. I can think of other guys I wouldn't root for (LoDuca, Pierzynski... what is it about catchers?), but there are jerks that I will like on my team. I was all about some Shockey when he was a Giant. Can't stand him now. I'm not sure what the distinction is. Maybe I like jerks that are goofs?

Anyway - just to waste away the weekend pondering something. If Bryce Harper doesn't change and is an ass when he gets to the majors, will it effect how you root for him? Just wondering.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I only have one question: What exactly is a starting contest?

Harper said...

Seeing who can be the first to start comment threads with snarky comments. Lucky for them they weren't facing you.

Anonymous said...

Don't think we really got the full story on the incident yet - I heard a few things - one that another player for Hagerstown hit a homerun, but then was called out because the other team said he didn't touch first base. Also saw that there was some less than positive interaction with the other team's catcher when Bryce came home after his first homerun. Seems like some animosity brewing between the teams in general. I won't call him a "jerk" before I know the whole story.....

Anonymous said...

As a fan base, yes, even if he's a world-class ahole, we'll absolutely be over the moon for him if he's as talented as projected. We're so starved for talent. To have something ANYTHING to cheer about. (I really would've liked to see the reaction on Morgan if he went psycho but still had played well. I think there would've been all sorts of defending the t-plush going on.) Personally, I'm just rooting for a tremendous player/prospect package when we flip him to the yankees.

Section 220 said...

I try very hard not to get into value judgments about athletes. We. Know. NOTHING. About. ANY. Of. Them. So, I find it a bit of a waste of time to get into like/dislike questions.

For example, before the whole Colorado incident, I'm confident that about 90 percent of the NBA-following population would have said Kobe Bryant was, maybe a little smug, but definitely a "good" guy. In fact, a goody-goody two shoes guy. Guess what, we didn't know him at all. (Or, maybe we did. Or not. We still don't. Who knows.)

The "anti Joe Mauer"? I'm sorry, I don't know Joe Mauer at all. He certainly sounds nice and humble and blah blah blah and he's very funny in that Head and Shoulders commercial with Troy Polamalu, but if he were arrested tomorrow for beating up a guy in a wheelchair I wouldn't be all shocked and crestfallen because I do not know that guy, and neither do you.

Bryce may very well be a jerk. But, you know, so may Ryan Zimmerman. Danny Espinosa may unwind at the end of the day with a martini flavored with the tears of children. (I forget where I'm ripping that off from.) We don't know, AT ALL, so I try not to go there. Long-winded way of saying I'm going to love watching Bryce play if he's as good as advertised regardless of whether he is a jerk or not.

Todd Boss said...

People want to talk about the kid's "makeup." Fine; lets talk about it. Lesse; he graduated high school 2 years early, he's morman and reportedly has never drank, smoked, chewed or otherwise caroused in his life (how many of these stud-athletes-all-their-privileged-lives can say that?). He's got an incredible work ethic and has yet to show one iota (as far as I can tell) of behavior that indicates he's resting on his laurels.

Harper has such a massive target on his back that its almost impossible to judge these incidents. He had two ejections in his college season; one was clearly, absolutely the result of his jealous opposing team lobbing baseballs at him and doing other bush league BS in the pre-game. The second ejection was a ridiculous over-reaction from an umpire who couldn't wait to show this hot-shot kid who was boss. You watch the videos and make your own conclusions.

The national media can't wait to find something wrong with the kid, since the national media (in true TMZ fashion) just can't deal with a great story.

Harper said...

Anon #1 - true this moment is an unknown but when history suggests you are a certain way and something happens that might back that up, conclusions are going to be drawn. It's up to you to not do anything questionable.

Anon #2 - got it.

Sec 220 - in part I agree, but I don't think we're trying to ID if Bryce is a great guy when he gets home from a game. We're just talking about in between the lines and numerous people have said similar things ranging from just "immature" to that "bad,bad guy" comment. That's really what I'm trying to guage because that's really the only thing fans have to react to. What they see. I think you're delving more into "should you" root for or against based on personality. I'm looking more at "will you"

Anonymous said...

First off any one that say's Bryce is a bad guy or a jerk is an idiot. I've meet him twice and seen the way he interacts with the fans. He's far from a jerk. Last week he was signing autographs before the game and as he walk away a 6 year kid started crying because his brother got an autograph and he didn't. Not only did Bryce turn around he ask him what was wrong he then signed his shirt for him gave him a high five and made a kid very happy. This was my son he did this for and I'll never forget it. If you want to label someone get to know your facts first.

Harper said...

Todd - it seems like you are insinuating that these guys are slandering Bryce because the are jealous? I don't buy that. It may be real, it may be overblown like the Nats said last year. I don't think it's not there at least a little bit.

Harper said...

Latest Anon - It could be a tiny pebble that snowballed but it's up to Bryce to stop that from rolling. Acting like he did with you & your kid is great to year, but the guy has got to be squeaky clean for a good long while in all aspects, if he wants to shed this image.

Fine though, since I don't know him the question and am dealing in hypothetical it shouldn't have read "If Bryce Harper doesn't change and is an ass..." but just "If Bryce Harper is an ass..."

ckstevenson said...

I find it interesting that there were no blips with Bryce in FL with the older players, and there are a couple of things since he's in the minors.

I expect as he goes up the ranks, especially at AA with some older guys who won't hesitate to let the "rook" know where he stands, that this type of behavior will cease.

Also important to note that Bryce has a GIANT bullseye on him. Everything he does, any minor minor pause after a HR, a look, a gesture, etc is going to get a response from other teams.

bdrube said...

I always assume ALL pro athletes are jerks to some extent until they have proven themselves to be otherwise. In that spirit I rooted for Dukes until he reinserted his head into his rectum, so I'll likely have no problem rooting for Harper.

Where I draw the line is at serious criminal activity and/or out-of-control on the field behavior like Nyjer displayed last year. If the worst thing Harper is ever accused of is being a jerk to his opponents, that matters not one whit unless he plays dirty or something.

Anonymous said...

All i'm saying is that people are passing judgement on an 18 year old teenager who's lived the last 3 or 4 years under a microscope. I have just seen him up close and he loves playing the game and he loves doing what he can for his fans. As stated before what he did for my 6 year old son was amazing. Think about what did he have to gain by coming back. NOTHING not one dam thing but he did and that speaks volume's for him and his character. So don't judge a young player because he wares his passion on his sleeve.

Bonsai said...

I actually kind of view this in a similar light as what happens to Dwight Howard.

For those not familiar, he complains a lot to refs, generally gets frustrated and gets a lot of technical fouls called on him. The thing is that because he is such a unique talent there seems to be a double standard on him. Defenders can elbow him and otherwise hard foul hin, but if he does the same stuff it gets called.

For the most part, he doesn't say anything about it, but it builds and builds over the course of the game(s) and he eventually lashes out, and he looks like the bad guy.

I can envision something similar with Bryce. After one of his HRs it looks like the opposing catcher and he get into a discussion once he crosses the plate. Who started it? Why would Bryce do that? Well, who's to say the catcher wasn't trash-talking him the whole time during his at-bat?

The right answer and response is to not let it bother you, and just walk away from the situation. For the most part Bryce does that. But just like Dwight, eventually he reaches a breaking point and can't contain it any longer.

Man, took way more words than I wanted to, but long story short: I feel for the guy.

Wally said...

The comments demonstrate that the answer to your question of 'if he is an ass but good, will you root for him?' is yes, people will root for him.

And FWIW, I don't think he is an ass. You seem dismissive of the likely jealously-inspired taunting he endures, but I don't think that you should be. He shouldn't have to take more shit just because he was good early and has received a lot of attention. Maybe he would be even better if he did, but he isn't a jerk because he won't. And the Nat players were pretty positive on him in ST, which means something.

Anonymous said...

I'll still root for him, as long as he is in a Nats uniform. Morgan's antics got to me last year, but I still pulled for him until he went to Milwaukee. Plus, he is just a kid. He will likely mature. I know when I was 18 I was a lot more likely to get into staring contests and even fist fights. People mellow out as they grow up. This is the kind of thing I hope he gets out of his system in the minors...

Maryb889 said...

I will root for Bryce Harper unless he cheats (see: Bonds, Barry), becomes so disruptive that he ceases to be worth it (see: Ramirez, Manny), or doesn't perform (see: well, the list is long but distinguished). I'm hoping that he matures as he moves through the system. However, a lot can be forgiven if the jerky superstar really performs. I don't have to live with him; just watch him play.

Trescml said...

When I lived in Chicago I rooted for Pierzynski, so I think that as long as he produces, people will root for him.

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