I was going to start this off with one of those cliché, “Ah, to be nineteen again” references, but then I remembered that I’m only two years beyond nineteen, so I probably don’t have the right to say that yet. That being said, a few years can make a significant difference in life. If I were still the nineteen year-old version of myself, I’d still have dreams of being the next Bond girl and I’d still be wearing leggings as pants. (Please don’t judge me – I was young and foolish.)
Anyway, my point is that nineteen is a young age. Sure, one is legally considered an adult, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they act like an adult. (I still drove around town with my friends blasting Hanson with the windows down at that age.) There’s still a lot of growing up and maturing to do at nineteen, and there are a lot of tasks that very few nineteen year-olds are ready to take on – such as beginning a career. Working at an Abercrombie is considerably different from working in corporate world. And it’s a hell of a lot different from playing a professional sport.
Bryce Harper is nineteen years old. Believe me, I too was shocked when I found out baseball’s next superstar is actually younger than me. Harper’s received a great deal of media attention – Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci even went as far as to call him, “Baseball’s Lebron”, but any educated individual knows that the media tends to embellish things. However, from what I’ve seen, read, and heard of Harper, the kid (I don’t care if I only have two years on him, I’m seizing the opportunity to call him that) really does seem to harbor a tremendous amount of talent.
So the kid’s got talent and it’s obvious to the baseball world that he’s due to make great accomplishments in his big league career – but when do the Nationals call him up to the big leagues?
Last season, Harper hit .297 in 109 games in with an OPS of .894, 17 home runs, and 58 RBIs. Even during last season’s spring training, many analysts and fans suggested that he immediately start in the big leagues. But while Harper has proved that he has the skill and talent to hang in the big leagues, his maturity still makes some wonder if he belongs there yet.
Many have heard of the incident during which Harper blew a kiss to the opposing pitcher after jacking a home run. The video of the incident immediately raised questions of Harper’s attitude, which further solidifies the case that he could spend some more time in the minors. Though the incident occurred back in June, and Harper has since had more time to grow a little, should there be the rush to get him to the big leagues?
Yes, the Nationals are looking to make a run for the playoffs this year, with the return of Stephen Strasburg and the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez. But rushing Harper is unnecessary and could result in a lot of negative consequences. What if he parties too hard? What if he can’t handle the pressure? What if he can’t adjust to big league pitching? After all, a curveball from Adam Wainwright is a lot different than one from a AA fifth starter.
And even if the Nationals do want Harper suited up on Opening Day, Harper will most likely have to start in the minors for the first month of season anyway. If Harper starts in the minors for 21 days this season, he won’t be a free agent until 2018. If he plays in the majors right away, his free agency will start in 2017. So why not leave him down there for half the season anyway?
On the other hand, what if Harper is the final piece to the Nationals squad?
Maybe age really is just a number. After all, any Clevelander can tell you that a 19-year-old can very easily bear the weight of a team on their shoulders, i.e. Kyrie Irving. And Doc Gooden was only 18 when he was promoted by the Mets. Oh, and Bob Feller? 17 years old when he debuted.
Maybe Harper will start in the majors and hit .300 and meet a nice young girl to settle down with. Okay, that’s a ridiculous statement, but in all seriousness, perhaps Harper has grown up since the kiss incident. Maybe his constant thirst for attention has become a thing of the past. And maybe Harper will adjust to the big leagues with ease. While I personally am questioning his promotion this soon, it’s evident that he’s going to get the chance soon.
So perhaps the argument that Harper is “just a kid” has no validity. After all, doesn’t one have to be a kid at heart to play baseball anyway?