Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Overblown Reactions...

So full of GRIT and HUSTLE!
Ok, I get it, Bryce Harper is a talented young player.

But...(and you knew there would be a 'but' - or perhaps a 'however')

Enough with the constant verbal fellatio for a guy who is hitting .267 with two homers and nine RBI in just over one-hundred plate appearances.  Projected out to five hundred appearances, that's ten homers and between 45 and 50 RBI. Not exactly impressive.

Yet, to listen to various announcers around the league, one would swear that we were witnessing the second coming of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Roberto Clemente all wrapped into one.  Can he be a five-tool player?  Absolutely.  But he isn't there yet and he may need more seasoning in the minors before truly asserting himself.  I have found myself being nauseated over the constant gushing - whether over his stealing of home after Cole Hamels drilled him, or some catch and throw he made from the outfield, or a ball he launched for extra bases.

So I get that - he has shown some hints of what is to come.

During tonight's game, Harper tagged up on consecutive flyouts in the top of the fourth inning. Both the Nationals' radio crew of Slowes and Jageler and the TV crew of Carpenter and Santangelo were talking about how 'aware' he is and so forth.  But there's something about that that bugs me about all this and I have finally figured it out.  Ironically, it isn't really about Harper himself but about those who lavish this (mostly unnecessary) praise on him.  It's this:

The game doesn't change.

Tagging up is the same in the 3rd grade or the 8th grade or High School or the Minors or the Majors.

The game doesn't change.

Three strikes are still an out, three outs to end your half of the inning, and so forth.  The only thing that changes is the speed of the game; there is no change to the substance of baseball. The 'awareness' is either there or it isn't.

This is why I hate hearing announcers talk about 'rookie mistakes' - as if the game at the professional level is somehow different than it was at any level below.  Throwing home from the warning track when there is a runner at first is a mistake at any level; making the last out at third base is a mistake on any level.  Missing the cutoff man is a mistake.  Plate discipline is still plate discipline.  You have it or you don't.  

So Bryce Harper has tremendous potential, to be sure, but he still has a long way to go, and the hype machine isn't doing him any favors at this point.  It's very cliché at this point, but I have to say it...

Let's keep things in perspective.

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