Bryce Harper had to be itching for the offseason to pack his bags and make way for spring. After all, Harper has never shied away from the spotlight and the stardom that’s come with the lofty expectations that constantly follow him around. He had to know that reporters would have their microphones primed for his arrival in Viera, Florida.
He certainly did not disappoint.
In case you missed it, Harper spent a good twelve minutes with reporters around him, responding to nearly every single question with a soundbite worthy answer. If you happened to miss the interview, the Washington Post has the video here. Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes has also taken some of the more memorable answers and transcribed them here.
Harper responded to a wide array of questions, from topics as diverse as the signing of Max Scherzer to his move to right field. One thing that didn’t vary, however, was Harper’s air of brash confidence. Every statement oozed swagger and dripped with the boldness that fans have come to expect from number 34.
Probably the most gallant of Harper’s statements was his reaction to the addition of Scherzer, the former Cy Young winner to a rotation that was already one of the best in baseball:
"“I was like, ‘Where’s my ring?’,Harper said. “You know what I mean? It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is.”"
Of course, Harper was only too happy to talk about his own part in the upcoming season as well. When questioned about his move to the opposite corner of the outfield, Harper simply said he was looking forward to showing off his cannon of an arm and throwing out baserunners.
Bryce was also certain to make clear what his goal was, which was bringing back a title to Washington, D.C. He even evoked the imagery of holding the World Series trophy up in front of the nation’s most beloved monuments. It’s a beautiful thing to imagine, particularly for Nats fans, but it’s also a statement that takes some guts to make. It’s the sort of thing that may even draw a few nervous cringes from Washington’s fanbase. After all, the “World Series or bust” claims of former manager Davey Johnson aren’t far enough in the rearview to be forgotten just quite yet.
So what should Nationals fans make of Harper’s comments? Should they cheer the fearless bravado that Harper displays? Or is this sort of hubris something that should be frowned upon and shied away from, a sort of demand for attention that will only serve to anger the baseball gods?
If you ask my opinion, it’s actually the former.
Say what you will about sportsmanship and humility, two of the qualities that the public has come to expect from the players in its national pastime, but when it comes to winning a championship, I’ll take the audacity and chest beating any day of the week. As Tim Hudson would only be too happy to tell you, once the postseason rolls around, it’s about what you have “between your legs.”
I’ve recalled last October over and over again when it comes to the expectations for Harper in 2015, but the series actually has an anecdotal application here as well. If you remember, Harper was the one screaming at Hunter Strickland as he rounded the bases after crushing ball after ball into the harbor, while the rest of the Washington Nationals offense went quietly into that night. Remember that when you think it might be better for Harper to keep his mouth shut.
It may only be spring, but Bryce has no beef with showing the world what he’s got when it comes time for October and Nats fans should take heart. After all, fortune favors the bold.