Bryce Harper: The Nationals’ Next Hero?

“Baseball’s LeBron James” is coming to Nats Park sooner rather than later—whether you like it or not.
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Photograph by Flickr user SportsAngle.com.

His swing has been called violent, his arm likened to various forms of artillery. Yet when the topic of Bryce Harper’s personality arises, it’s not long before he’s being compared unfavorably to a hygienic product.

Whether you love him or hate him, the 19-year-old phenom is coming sooner rather than later. When Harper reports to Nationals spring training next week, he’ll do so with an eye on a major league roster spot. He made that clear in a recent interview, one that will be better remembered for his mention of Joe Namath.

Harper invoked the name of Broadway Joe because that’s the kind of life he wants to lead: the playboy image, the on-field performance, and the endorsements that come with both of those things. So no, Bryce Harper is certainly not contending with a lack of confidence.

But that’s no surprise. Harper is arrogant because he’s exceptionally gifted. He’s also a teenager. Not to generalize, but teenagers are horrible people. They’re the kind of people who get a tattoo of their own name in huge letters. And name their puppy “Swag.” And unabashedly root for the Cowboys, Yankees, Lakers, and Duke basketball.

If Harper grows tired of this whole baseball thing, he can always reapply his old war paint and get immediate work in WWE. That’s because Harper is the perfect heel. It’s not even an act, it’s just what comes naturally. Maybe he was born to play the role, or maybe this is what happens when you’re a high school student being advised by super agent Scott Boras.

Sports Illustrated anointed Harper baseball’s LeBron James nearly three years ago. The magazine isn’t really known for its accurate predictions, but it nailed that one. Like James, Harper is going to rub people the wrong way. He shows up pitchers and stares down umpires. He’s also going to tear the cover off the ball when he arrives in Washington sometime this season.

Bryce Harper will never be the humble superstar you may wish he was, but he’s going to be our superstar. And even if you don’t always like him, just think about how much everyone in Philadelphia is going to hate him.

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