Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals set the difficult, but correct tone in a press conference. The focus must be on the year ahead, not his future.
Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper is correct not to talk about his future past 2018. Although it came across as confrontational when he threatened to leave his spring training press conference, it is important for players to set boundaries.
When you add the sense of urgency from fans and the franchise, the lone focus should be on the year ahead. It is the only thing under Harper’s immediate control. But, in the back of his, Mike Rizzo’s and ours is the subject of the future. Every losing streak will draw mentions of the Nats clock ticking.
Harper knows this. He is well-spoken and savvy. If he addressed his future Monday, you would wonder where his head is. It is in West Palm Beach and live batting practice.
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Harper has a good idea where he is playing next year. This is not an open auction, but a selection. He has had his whole adult life to decide where his prime years are spent. Three teams have a shot including Washington. He may know where he spends 2019, but his team probably does not.
By declaring his individual future off-limits, Harper did Washington a favor. He turned the focus back on the field and on the Nats 2018 goals.
And, so should you.
Regardless of his status, 2018 is an angst-filled year from the start. Playoff failures have hardened the team and you. Everyone is beyond the happy to be here stage. Now, the demand is a positive October result.
Again, Harper understands this. He is seen in some quarters as brash and arrogant. The man on display Monday was a true professional. The expectations on him are humongous. Outside of the financial windfall and future awaiting, he knows October success falls on him.
Washington carries a rich and talented roster. They will go in to 2019 as National League East favorites no matter his playing address.
But, for this year, no one player takes the field under more self-pressure than Harper. He wants the big numbers and the World Series ring. Yes, a massive season fattens his wallet. And, gets Washington farther than any year since baseball returned to DC.
So, ask Scott Boras your questions. He is not answering them either. Neither is Rizzo, Magic Johnson and Theo Epstein.
The best television drama’s carry extra sub-plots. The 2018 Washington Nationals, soon to be on a screen near you, are no exception.