Especially in the past weeks, Bryce Harper of the MLB’s Washington Nationals has been displaying a lot of the shrewd, callous behavior that some of baseball’s greatest hero/villains – such as Ty Cobb, Jose Canseco, and Alex Rodriguez – were famous for.
On August 26, for example, Harper lied about being hit by a foul in order to prolong his play time. He was at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning when he grounded out to first base. He pretended that the ball had ricocheted off his foot after being hit, and the at-bat went on. Bryce ended up being walked, and the Nationals ended up hitting a grand slam that inning. Later, a replay revealed that the ball had not hit Harper at all; he concocted the story to gain an advantage.
Several days later, Harper told The New York Times that he really doesn’t care if the Nationals make the playoffs this year. His blasé remark was in the same vein as his recent comments that he “doesn’t give a crap” what is going on with other teams.
Finally, just this Saturday, Harper lost his head after he struck out in the sixth inning and obliterated his bat after he got back to the dugout by smashing it against the bench and then snapping it over his knee.
The New York Daily News comments on the public’s view of Harper as a hot-head player.
“Whether it’s the hype around him or simply the confidence Harper shows on the field — some call it cockiness — people tend to view him as a villain.”
All of Bryce Harper’s recent hot-headed and/or morality-bending behavior is extremely reminiscent of Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankee who is the highest-paid MLB player in history. The 25 year old Harper’s insanely good statistics are also similar to a young A-Rod’s – even though he was seriously injured at the start of the 2013 season, Bryce is batting for a.331 average with 31 home runs and 90 runs scored already this year.
In the same Daily News article, Rodriguez was quoted as saying that he agrees that the similarities between Harper’s career and his own career at the same age are “uncanny.” Both Bryce and Alex entered the MLB before turning 21, were a first round draft pick, and tore the league up in their first few extremely highly anticipated seasons.
He also expressed admiration for Harper’s similar style of play.
“I like how relentless and how aggressive he is; you don’t see that often these days,” Rodriguez said. “Most people want to play it safe, but he goes for it every time… I love everything about him.”
We have seen a lot of the “relentless” and “aggressive” behavior A-Rod is talking about in Bryce Harper’s play as of late. Could he inherit A-Rod’s unofficial title of baseball’s most infamous player? Rodriguez is getting too old to cause a stir, after all – he just turned 40 about a month ago – and, if Harper continues in his current direction, he may well be handed the crown.
[Image via Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]