My only quibble with the Bryce Harper interview in GQ Magazine is that it's too short, about 900 words. Still, reporter Will Leitch does an economically keen job of bringing out Harper's bombastic personality. As Harper himself opines to Leitch, the 19-year-old is just what Major League Baseball needs: A brash, cocky, funny, intense and profane figure who can hit the ball a long way. Harper will polarize fans, most of whom will view him as either a jerk or as a blast. But once he reaches the majors with the Washington Nationals (and it might not be until later this season) nobody will be able to turn away.
(Here's a not-safe-for-work link, mostly because of the first word. And maybe one or two others.)
He lights up when I ask him what he misses about being a "kid." "Playing football," he says. "I'm getting chills just thinking about it. That first knock of the game, you are going on kickoff and you are just trying to smack somebody just as hard as you can. That's how I play baseball. I want to hit you. I want to run your ass over. Sorry."
Oh, he's not really sorry. And can you guess where Harper comes down on how Buster Posey got hurt? Also, Harper is under the impression that he and the game's top slugger are comrades.
One minute he informs me that "baseball needs more superstars." The next, while discussing Albert Pujols signing with the Angels, he offers thoughtlessly, "Albert and I know each other and respect each other."
In a sport in which "paying your dues" is practically in the job description—an institution that once made Michael Jordan ride around in a bus for five months—Harper seems to have emerged fully formed to piss off the baseball establishment.
Yeah, but M.J. couldn't hit a breaking ball. If Leitch is implying that Harper is in for a rude awakening, I can see that — if he fails, if his bat isn't as blunt as his mouth. But if Harper is as good as advertised, he'll be embraced. MLB will market him — no, the word is exploit — and Albert Pujols (in public) will treat him like they really are best friends forever. Because, why buck the establishment?
Related MLB video on Yahoo! Sports: