In a game where personal stats, contracts and personal acclaim reign supreme, Bryce Harper is offering a refreshing attitude. For now.
Harper, who will make his debut Tuesday for the Hagerstown Suns in a home exhibition, waxed poetic about the game during the team’s media day on Monday.
“I love the smell of the grass. I love the way the dirt smells after it rains,” Harper told the Herald-Mail. “I love the feel of the dirt and the chalk in my hands. I love the smell of the crowd, the concessions and the field during a game. There is nothing better than going out and playing baseball.”
And then Ty Cobb and Shoeless Joe Jackson appeared and they all had a nice catch.
Harper’s statements were reminiscent of a time when the love of the game came before anything else.
Sure, it’s easy to say things like that on a $10 million contract. But his youthful exuberance makes us think he’s for real, if not a little naïve.
“I want to be perfect in every aspect of my game,” he told the paper. “I’m going to be the biggest team player out there. I want to drive in runs, but I’m all right if I just move the runner. That’s fine, too. Anything to help the team win.”
The 18-year-old phenom, who should still be in high school, is injecting the media with his child-like eagerness. But don’t let him fool you. While his “team player” mentality seems genuine, he still has his eyes on baseball’s top personal honor.
“I don’t care if I go 0-for-3 in a game if we win," he said. "You only have to average 3-for-10 to make it to the Hall of Fame.”
Ah, there’s that $10 million talking.