Am finally getting around to reading the Jayson Stark story in the Athletic on Bryce Harper and his reaction to the Nationals making the World Series without him.
First of all, it’s a good story by Stark and it is a story that someone had to write, so I understand why Jayson wrote it in the first place.
But it’s a deeply flawed premise, right up there with “when did you stop beating your spouse?”
Whatever the truth is – and I believe both Harper and the Nationals made their peace with the separation a long time ago – nobody is going to say anything negative. If Harper said if he had to do it over again he’d stay with the Nats, he alienates his current team and gets to answer that question a million times in the off-season.
If any current Nationals player or executive were to even hint that the team is better without Harper, that too would make headlines for months to come and make the Nats look petty, something that is very important they don’t look like. They’ve created an incredible clubhouse atmosphere, they’re in the World Series, and to potential free agents, they look like a very attractive place to consider. They don’t want to do anything – no matter how small – to tarnish that.
Truth is, I like Bryce Harper. I would have preferred he stayed and been a part of all this. I know there are people who don’t like him because they think he’s cocky, brash and full of himself, and I get that. He was a star early in his life, he had people telling him since he was very young that the rules didn’t necessarily apply to him because of his talent, and that has certainly led to some regrettable behavior.
For a further example of this, check out Ralph Sampson in his younger days. I got to cover him in high school and college and he was not the most collegial fellow around in those days.