10 Reasons to Love Bryce Harper, Baseball’s Biggest Bro

by 7 years ago

He’s good. Like really, really good…
The list of Harper’s accomplishments by the age of 19 is already staggering. At 17, while I was trying to get my prom date drunk enough to make some bad decisions, Harper won the Golden Spikes award for best amateur baseball player, an award usually reserved for juniors or seniors in college. He played in a wood bat junior college league to prove that wood wouldn’t affect his power and hit 31 home runs. The previous school record was 12. Harold Reynolds said in an MLB Network interview that Harper reminds him of Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez at the same age. Not bad company to be in.

 …and he knows it

Nobody has ever accused Bryce Harper of being humble, but the best never are self-effacing. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods: all champions, and all cocky d*uchebags. Harper has gone on record saying he wants to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, the best hitter ever to live and to hit .430. Pretty lofty sights for a kid too young to enter a strip club that serves alcohol. But the scary thing is, it all may be within his grasp.

He’s a character
Baseball, more so than the other major American sports, is a game almost devoid of superstar personalities. Out of tradition, players are expected to go about their business unnoticed and respectfully. Harper has gone out of his way to give that institution double-barreled middle fingers. He’s blown a kiss at an opposing pitcher. He’s taken a bow after throwing a dude out in college. He wants to be Joe Namath, Mickey Mantle and Pete Rose all rolled into one. Baseball hasn’t had a real villain since Barry Bonds, and maybe not one so young ever. The Mariano Riveras and Albert Pujolses of the world are great and all, but it’s awesome to see a guy go out there and consistently shove it up the *sses of thousands of people that hate him and then go talk about it the next day.

He grew a terrible, awesome mustache
Baseball has a rich history of phenomenal mustaches, from Rollie Fingers to Sal Fasano. Harper grew his own ‘stache down in the minors, apparently because f*ck it, and again for Movember to raise money and awareness for men’s health. It even inspired a Twitter account, @BHarpersStache. He also wears his hair in a ridiculous faux-hawk, because, again, why the hell not?

He loves to say the F-word

This one is fairly new to me. I know that he’s a fairly hardcore Christian (Bible verse tattoo), and I figured he was a sober, “doggone it” kind of athlete in the vein of Tim Tebow. Man, was I wrong. Harper loves to say “f*ck” in all of its conjugations and derivations, which should make some fantastic lip-reading clips after bad at-bats.{pagebreak}

He plays HARD
Like, as a mother*cker. Check out this clip where Harper beats out a routine ground ball to third (2:00). In spring training. Say what you want about his attitude, the kid plays the game 100 miles an hour, a throwback like Pete Rose or Ty Cobb. He’ll go crashing into walls, barreling into catchers and diving into gaps.  The anti-Barry Bonds, who ran out ground balls with all the urgency of a graveyard shift gas station attendant, Harper gives it his all on every pitch.

He grabs headlines

The game needs a guy who will generate headlines for something other than elevated synthetic testosterone levels. Harper is that guy. Whether it’s an outlandish quote, touching off a brawl or one of his many on-field antics, the media cannot get enough of him. Any press is good press, and Harper ensures that the league will be staying in the limelight, the way LeBron James does for basketball or Rex Ryan does for football.

He knows and loves the game
You won’t find many cocky young athletes with the depth of knowledge and respect for the game of baseball than Bryce has, something that purists will love. He cites his favorite players as Mickey Mantle and George Brett, choosing his number, 34, because the digits add up to the Mick’s 7. He knows exactly where he wants to be in baseball’s storied history, and that’s at the top.

He pisses people off

Whether it’s sports writers, opposing teams or veteran players, Harper’s persona inevitably rubs some people the wrong way. A scout called him “the anti-Joe Mauer.” Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones have both noted displeasure for his actions on the field. Last year, the Nationals veterans replaced his locker room nametag with “B*tch Boy.” He’ll never be afraid to fire off a controversial statement and he doesn’t (always) feel the need to speak in boring, tired clichés, automatically making him 1000% more interesting than Andrew Luck.

But he doesn’t give a sh*t
Even through all the heckling and “overrated” chants and skewering on message boards, anonymous interviews and blogs, it’s hard to find an athlete that gives fewer f*cks than Bryce Harper. He has proven his detractors wrong at every level, and it won’t be long until he’s doing it at the major league level despite still being a teenager. In the same way A-Rod seems to be painfully self-aware of everything that’s written about him, Harper shrugs it off and gets back to work. He may not be the most beloved player of the next decade, but he’s going to make sure that he’s one of the most memorable.

TAGSbaseballBryce HarperMLBWashington Nationals