If you are a baseball fan today, you have heard of Bryce Harper. A 21-year old “phenom,” Harper has made an impact on the game since the first time he stepped onto a Major League field. He is an energizer bunny for any team he is on. Not only does he make an impact on the field, he brings intensity to all he does.
Now, even if you are not a baseball fan today, you have heard about Pete Rose. And if you haven’t, I’m sorry…but you should probably keep reading this. I’m not talking about the “cheater” Pete Rose. I’m talking about the “baseball player” Pete Rose. This guy was a hard-nosed dirt-dog. He not only was a tough dude, but he also did everything 100% all the time. Many of us have seen the famous picture of Pete diving into 3rd base like superman.
After looking at this picture, anyone would say that this guy went “hard” all the time! Pete played in an era where it was expected for you to run out every ground ball and never “pimp” a home-run. There was a respect for the game, and a purity that was protected by players.
If you’ve watched any ounce of baseball in the last 10 years, you obviously know this has changed. No disrespect to any of the players in the league, but today’s game has changed. A lot of players jog to 1st base when they hit a ground ball to 2nd base. And they do it because “they don’t want to get hurt,” or they “don’t want to use too much energy.” As a fan of the game and as a purist of the game, I think that’s bogus!
This is where I want to get back to Harper. This kid is a revivalist of the game of baseball. He is impacting the way the game is played. If you have seen him, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen him play, Harper is the wild child who thinks he can get to every fly ball. He thinks he can beat out every infield ground ball. He thinks he will be the best player in the game. Could he be the best?? Maybe…but it is not because he is the most talented.
Harper doesn’t have the pure talent like, let’s take Ken Griffey Jr. for example. Junior was one of the most naturally-gifted players to ever play the game. Not only did Griffey have unbelievable natural talent, he was just a good, savvy player. Harper is not a naturally-gifted player. Yes, he has size, but he has had to work harder to be as good as he is. This makes him a special kind of player.
Harper is a dose of what the baseball realm needs these days. Kids are growing up wearing all the fancy gear and trying to hit bombs and show up pitchers. But that is not baseball, that is not the game I love. Baseball is a game that infused with respect and honor. It is a game that is meant to be played to the best of your ability. Baseball is a game that is supposed to be fun. Harper is not my favorite player, but I respect him. For as young as he is, to have such an immediate impact on the culture of the game is an unbelievable feat. I hope we continue to see young players come into the game with this mentality. The mentality of playing hard all 9 innings.