A Kiss is but a Kiss? Harper's Kiss Sparks More Debate

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, June 07, 2011 | , | 5 comments »

The big news yesterday and today should have been the MLB Entry Draft.  Unfortunately, Washington Nationals uber-prospect Bryce Harper took matters into his own, well, lips, garnering attention not for the home run he hit yesterday against the Greensboro Grasshoppers (Grasshoppers? Really?), but for the kiss he blew toward Greensboro pitcher Zachary Neal as he trotted toward home plate.

Harper continues to dominate the South Atlantic League, as his .342/.435/.623 slash with 14 home runs, 42 RBIs and 12 stolen bases will attest.  Today, he was selected to the SALLY All-Star game in Salisbury, MD on June 21, along with teammates Blake Kelso, David Freitas, Taylor Jordan and Christopher Manno.

But all anyone wants to talk about is "The Kiss".

It is yet another mark against Harper and his on-field attitude.  He has garnered nothing but glowing reviews from his teammates and front office personnel, and he's been fantastic with young fans in Hagerstown and stops all across the league.  But he continues to taunt opponents when provoked.  And he is being provoked.  Every pitcher that faces him wants a piece of him, and this series with Greensboro has been especially contentious, with three batters -- including Harper -- hit on Sunday.

But it's no excuse.

Earlier this season, he stared down a pitcher after he crossed home plate on a home run, prompting both benches to clear.  This type of continued activity is only going to come back to bite Harper -- or one of his teammates.  He going to taunt the wrong guy at one point and either he or a teammate is going to get a fastball in the earflap.  No one's been hurt -- yet.  But it's only a matter of time. 

Baseball has always found a way to put players that think they're above the game in their place.  Harper will be no different.  It's one thing to be competitive.  It's one thing to show emotion and play with fire and intensity.  It's another thing completely to taunt your opponent in a professional setting.  I know he's only 18-years old and he's still growing emotionally.  But the time for these antics to stop -- once and for all -- has come.

Harper needs to realize that every single thing he does on the baseball field -- good and bad -- will be posted on YouTube before that game is even over.  Someone he respects needs to sit him down and tell him to turn the other cheek when challenged on the field before someone gets seriously hurt.

5 comments

  1. Rep Weiner // June 7, 2011 at 3:51 PM  

    I couldn't agree more.

  2. sweetpearacer // June 7, 2011 at 6:37 PM  

    While I think it would be best for Harper to pick his battles, I don't think he should abandon them completely. You say that he makes himself a target by being cocky and aggressive when challenged. I think he's a target regardless of what he does. It's not wise to always fight back, particularly if you're going to be picked apart on the Internet for the most mundane action. However, if Harper always avoids confrontation, doesn't that also open the door for him to be harassed more? I may be way off, but I'm not sure if one extreme attitude or the other would be the way to go here.

  3. Dave Nichols // June 7, 2011 at 7:22 PM  

    Sweetpea: there are plenty of major league prospects tearing up the minor leagues, doing so professionally and not putting any additional targets on their -- or their teammmates -- backs. the Nats brass talked to Harper today and I expect that they took care of the problem.

  4. Anonymous // June 7, 2011 at 8:22 PM  

    Who cares as long as he continues to hit like he is.

  5. Maddy // June 8, 2011 at 11:58 AM  

    While I know many people want him to rise through the ranks at a rapid speed, one of the reasons the Nats I don't think are rushing him (relatively speaking) is because while he might have the tools to play in the majors right now, he is not emotionally there. This town already saw one immature "superstar" in Kwame Brown, one of the reasons the NBA I believe instituted the "age requirement" or must go to college for a year (or play in Europe).