Bryce Harper started a revolution to “Make Baseball Fun Again”, and it is on full display in this World Series!

Photo from ESPN The Magazine , Photo by Peter Hapak

Bryce Harper got plunked and it turned into a brawl…three years after he hit two NLDS home runs off of Hunter Strickland in 2014. A year and a half before that brawl, Harper was talking about emotion in baseball in an interview  by Tim Keown with ESPN The Magazine:

“Baseball’s tired,” Harper said back in the off-season after the 2015 season to Keown. “It’s a tired sport because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair.”

Harper was criticized loudly by Goose Gossage who called Harper a “young punk” referring to the ESPN interview. There were few players who publicly backed Harper up. One who did back Bryce up was Joc Pederson who had just completed a break-out rookie season although he has been rather quiet since then. Pederson was snubbed and not on the Dodgers NLDS roster this season then made the NLCS roster only to get 5 at-bats. Pederson made the World Series roster while veteran Curtis Granderson did not, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts clearly made the right choice.

“And [Joc Pederson] continues to amaze us and put together good at-bats,” Dave Roberts said.

Roberts has given Pederson some key starts in a total role reversal, and Pederson has rewarded his manager with some key hits leading the Dodgers starters with a 1.581 OPS and 149 points over the team batting average. It is Pederson who has been the offensive star for the Dodgers, and he now has a Dodgers record tying 3 home runs in this World Series so far.

The Strickland incident just shows how tired baseball is when a pitcher holds a vendetta for 3 years to exact some revenge because Harper showed some well-earned emotion which was tamed compared to Pederson and Jose Altuve and Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor and George Springer and Alex Bregman. The young stars are on display. Should Carlos Beltran wait 3 years to get Kenley Jansen who fist pumped after he struck him out to end game 6 last night?

Harper continued, “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. That’s what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players – Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton – I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.”

Bryce Harper has tried to freshen up the game of baseball and imbeciles like Hunter Strickland have inserted themselves like yellow caution-tape that there can be repercussions several years down the road if you show emotion or get the better of someone. Most of baseball had Bryce’s back in that brawl as far as they could and in the end they still suspended him.

Tim Keown who wrote the groundbreaking piece on Bryce which was published in March 2016 and Keown responded this morning with a comment to my comment:

Should Joc Pederson expect Joe Musgrove to plunk him in a few years? It’s a fair question given the Strickland scenario. Pederson has 2 home runs off of Musgrove like Harper had off of Strickland.

Enjoy game 7 tonight and be ready for some emotion and celebrations.

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