The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Harper having some fun, grandpa
Via Wikimedia Commons by Johnmaxmena2

Bryce Harper doesn’t give a damn about your grandpa.

For too long, baseball has been the only sport that clings to tradition as if it’s the only reason that people care about the game. But somehow, against all odds, young kids take a liking to tee ball before they know anything about the unwritten rules.

They fall in love with that feeling of hitting the ball so hard, it feels as if they’ve literally dented it, like you see in the cartoons. They have no idea that nobody but the pitcher is allowed to walk across the mound or that you never bunt to break up a no-hitter.

Is it possible — no — this is stupid.

Is it possible that some people like baseball because baseball can be fun?

Likely to the surprise of your grandpa, yes. It is possible that baseball can be fun, and Harper has taken it upon himself to be the trigger that reminds us all of this forgotten secret.

You may recall Harper’s hat from early in this young season, stating “Make Baseball Fun Again,” playfully initiating a campaign playing upon Donald Trump’s infamous hat. Playfully, yes, but Harper is serious about his fun.

Oh, is he serious.

After MLB Hall of Famer Goose Gossage put Harper and new-age baseball in his sights, saying Harper has “no respect for the game,” Harper didn’t shy away from his behavior, and instead doubled down on his stance that his demeanor is, in fact, exactly what baseball needs.
And he’s right.

“Baseball’s tired; it’s a tired sport because you can’t express yourself,” Harper told ESPN in March. Juxtaposing the dry environment of baseball with basketball and football, Harper pointed out that guys such as Steph Curry, LeBron James, and Cam Newton have a fun time, and the fans have more fun because of it.

“I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.”
Harper couldn’t be more correct. Other sports allow their players to be expressive and have unique personas. Baseball, on the other hand, seems to want to reduce its players simply to guys who are only differentiated based on their abilities, completely stripped of any outward personality.

Harper, the sinful disgrace to baseball, simply wants to play baseball, be himself, and not have to disguise himself as a cookie-cutter template for how Gossage wants his grandson to act.

And let’s get something cleared up: Harper isn’t a bad dude. He’s not asking for bench-clearing brawls or cocaine in the dugout. Somebody spotted him just last weekend in Chicago getting on the team bus to leave and then getting back off to give a homeless woman a jar of money. He’s not a bad guy.

All he’s asking for is the freedom to play the game he loves with the passion and intensity that comes natural to him as a person. And he’s not just a punk who wants to be able to act however he wants. He wants the same freedom for his competitors.

“If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me, good for you. Hopefully, I get you next time.’ ”

Harper is not some reckless deviant trying to selfishly and lawlessly maraud across the league, as he’s been made out to be by some of the media. He’s on a two-name list to be the new face of baseball for the next 10 to 15 years, and in spite of Gossage, that means baseball is going to look like him.

Relatively new Commissioner Rob Manfred has given early indications that he is prepared to allow baseball to become more progressive, which has to be music to Harper’s ears. Hopefully, it’s got baseball fans tapping their feet as well.

Harper is your new face of baseball, and Harper is who he is. He will indeed make baseball fun again, whether your grandpa likes it or not.

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