Bryce Harper continues to be a somewhat polarizing figure in baseball, but he also continues to have this strange knack of being correct just about every time he expresses an opinion about his sport.
Appearing on Colin Cowherd’s program Monday morning, Harper was asked about Cowherd’s contention that defensive shifts are bad for the game and should be outlawed.
“I think a lot of guys would agree with you,” Harper said. “I don’t think it will ever happen, but I think we should outlaw the DH, as well. That’s just me. I like the National League version of the game. But I mean, you’ve got to hit ’em where they’re not, and I haven’t been doing that — I’ve been hitting ’em right at ’em. So that’s just part of how the game works. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap. That’s just how the game is. But hopefully you can get going and try to not hit ’em where they are. [Fielders have been] playing there for years and years and years, so I guess that’s just part of the game, but I’m with you on it.”
Not positive what the baseball-nerdist Internet cognoscenti would think about outlawing defensive shifts, but I’m pretty sure they’re 98 percent in favor of abolishing the DH in favor of way more double-switches and platoon advantages and chances to criticize managers. Plus, if he is against the DH, maybe that means he’s against free agent decisions to take his talents to the Bronx. This was an A+ from Harper.
Home-field advantage and the All-Star Game
In an appearance on MLB Network — baseball’s official TV home! — Harper and Kris Bryant were asked whether the All-Star Game should be considered a showcase for fans or a serious game they need to win. Bryant mumbled something forgettable. Harper got out his sledgehammer.
“I mean, I’ve got to say that I think the best record in baseball should have home-field advantage, no matter what,” he said. “Best record. I mean, I don’t think this game should mean anything. It’s coming out here, having fun, enjoying the game. Best record in baseball, hey, you guys [earned] it. … The biggest thing is this game does mean something, because if you have the possibility to be in the postseason this year, you have to go in trying to win this game for that reason. Game 7 or anything in the World Series, having home-field advantage is huge.”
This is another A+. Without even being asked, he knocked one of baseball’s silliest traditions: putting actual import on an exhibition whose lineups are voted on by fans, and that might affect players who are hardly even represented in the exhibition. Maybe Harper is angling for the commissioner’s job, which would also allow him to loosen up the fun police a bit. Hey, speaking of…
Baseball’s fun police
Harper’s stance on making baseball fun again is well-established. But to my knowledge, he hadn’t yet spoken publicly on Barry Svrluga’s report that MLB warned Harper’s bat manufacturer of the ramifications if Harper used an unapproved bat, like his potential July Fourth red-white-and-blue spectacle. When Cowherd asked Harper about the reception to his fun message, though, the bat came up.
“I mean, I think the biggest thing about the Make Baseball Fun Again was to get the kids’ attention, really draw their attention to coming and playing baseball,” Harper said. “I wanted to be able to open up the sport of baseball a little more. It’s a great sport. I absolutely love the beauty of baseball, and to be able to go out there and play the game of baseball and have the fun that we do.
“But the cleats and the bats, being able to use a Fourth of July bat on July 4 for the military, things like that,” Harper went on. “I mean, what’s more American than going out there and having a Fourth of July bat, an American flag bat with the Statue of Liberty on it? There’s nothing. I mean, it’s amazing.
“So just drawing that to the fans, drawing that to the kids. I think my [All-Star Game] cleats really bring that out as well with the gold on them, with the flair on them. Some of the stuff that I designed that are coming out later on is also like that, so I really try to just have some fun with it, enjoy that and not take the game so serious with being so sensitive. … I’m not trying to be your friend out there, I’m trying to win games, but I want to have fun as well. That’s just how I feel.”
This isn’t very new, of course, but it’s a solid B+ of an answer.
Watching MLB Network vs. watching the ‘Bachelor’
If given the option of watching a studio talking-head sports program or a reality television show, I would chose JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers before the clicker had even settled into my sweaty palms. I mean, I’m not saying the show’s been great since Chad got kicked off, but the tension with Jordan is at least keeping things interesting, and some of the later-this-season teasers have been amazing. Plus, Chad.
“I watch the ‘Bachelor,’ I’ll watch ‘the Voice,’ I’ll watch ‘90210,’ ” Harper said on MLB Network. “I’ll watch anything. I mean, I love Neftlix, so I’ll watch anything on there.”
Okay, cool, and MLB Network?
“I don’t watch you guys,” Harper said, while on MLB Network. “I’m sorry. I apologize. I don’t watch ‘SportsCenter,’ I don’t watch you guys, I don’t watch Fox. I’m dead serious. I really don’t.”
What’s above A+?
The Home Run Derby
As he has in other places, Harper promised that he would make his return to this contest when it arrives in D.C. in 2018.
“I mean, I did an interview the other day and I think people really mis-read that or took offense, I guess,” Harper said, referring to critics who believe he should have entered this year’s contest. “But I want to do it in D.C. I saw what [Todd] Frazier did last year in Cincinnati, and it was amazing. I mean, I would love to possibly do it in D.C. and take the crown home in D.C. I mean, what better way to do it than in your hometown? … D.C., definitely, I would love to do it in ’18.”
This might not thrill everyone, but it’s an answer that’s just fine for Nats fans, I’d think. That’s a creditable B+ yet again.
“People have jobs,” Harper told Cowherd, “and you should enjoy what you do. Listening to you talk on The Herd and stuff, you enjoy what you do. And I mean, I love your show. It’s just a lot of fun to see people enjoy what they do, and I enjoy what I do.”
Dang. Well, every perfect game has to end somewhere.