Braves announcers on Bryce Harper


(Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

If my math is correct, the Braves and Nats have played three times this season. And in all three of the Atlanta broadcasts on Fox Sports South, the Braves announcers managed to take cracks at Bryce Harper.

I didn’t watch the entire Atlanta broadcasts — just segments, after fans highlighted individual cracks. I can’t promise this is a comprehensive cataloging.

Friday

Bryce Harper struck out. Then he slammed his helmet, as seen above.

“Did he go? Yes he did,” Chip Caray said. “Harper punched out, and throws a temper tantrum as he’s down in the home fourth.”

Saturday

First, Caray and Joe Simpson discussed Harper’s offseason during an early-game at-bat, while showing a photo of him with his UFC belt.

“In the offseason Bryce Harper made it a point to let the world know about his offseason conditioning program,” Caray said. “He really hit the weight room in preparation for this 2014 season. Maybe he was looking more like an NFL linebacker.” 

“I don’t know why young guys think that more muscles mean more power,” Simpson said. “That’s almost a clown move, bro. Long line of guys who think that muscles equal more power, and not necessarily so. You can make a phone call to Jeff Francoeur and see how that affected him. Jeff thought that beefing up to about 230 would help him hit more homers, and it did not. In fact it had an opposite effect….[Harper's] such a gifted baseball player, can do so many things well. Any team would love to have him on their ballclub. You just would hate to see him somehow affect what comes naturally to him and how strong he already was before he worked out, or did whatever he did this winter.”

Later, Harper struck out again.

“How concerned are you about Harper now? Ten strikeouts in his first 21 at-bats. I know it’s early, but….” Caray began.

“I’m not concerned at all,” Simpson laughed.

“Let me rephrase that: How concerned do you think the Nats are?” Caray asked.

“I would think that they’d want to revisit that workout program,” Simpson said.

Sunday

Harper was out of the lineup, but the broadcasters still discussed him when replacement left fielder Kevin Frandsen came up.

“I was very interested in the comments of Bryce Harper in the paper today,” Caray said. “It’s no secret Harper’s off to a very slow start with this Washington ballclub, a lot of strikeouts, a lot of frustration. Bryce was very self-critical as to how the first week of this season has gone in the Nationals lineup.”

“For a guy with his kind of ability and certainly with his level of success already, they were a little bit surprising. But he’s still so young. He’s just 20,” Simpson said, over highlights from the previous day. “It’s not all that surprising when guys are really struggling to see them react in ways like this. Bat throwing, helmet-throwing, hissy fits.

“But then he said ‘I feel terrible, plain and simple. The swing doesn’t feel good. … I’m pretty lost right now actually,’ ” Simpson went on. “A little bit of a defeatist attitude. But you feel like, at least as a young person, you’re probably never going to get another hit. You know, what happened to my swing? But it won’t take him long to get it back. Get him a couple hits under his belt after the Braves leave town, and he’ll be fine.”

Dan Steinberg writes about all things DC sports at the DC Sports Bog.
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