Behind the Mic: Bryce Harper – Enough Already!

Easter Sunday was a really nice day.  The whole family was present with everyone making it to the house.  Once again, my wife put together an extensive dinner, maintaining the traditions of a Ukrainian Easter; paska (Ukrainian bread); one egg shared by all to start the dinner; and a Ukrainian hymn signifying that Christ had risen.  It was sunny and warm outside and inside.  Even sports took a respite for the day.

And then at 11:00pm, I watched the news which has become the most dramatic program on TV these days.  And I always check out the Phillies results.  The Phillies lost.  Bryce Harper hit his second home run of the day on a 3-2 count with the Phils leading 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and two on to Washington.    Do the math – a 6-4 loss.  It was Harper’s 18th home run against the Phillies in his five years with the Nationals.

If you root for any team other than the Nationals, Bryce Harper is not your favorite player.  He just seems to have a way of ruining one’s day.

But, let’s face it – Bryce Harper is REALLY, REALLY good.  He is a baseball superstar who truly lives up to the description every day he steps on the field.  I knew a bit about his journey to the major leagues, but I decided to investigate a bit further.  Wikipedia is always a good place to start.

  • He received his GED after his sophomore year in high school so he could begin his path to professional baseball career at the age of 17.
  • He played one season for the College of Southern Nevada as a catcher with his older brother pitching on the team. Harper was the Player of the Year in the conference.  He topped that honor by being named the best amateur player in the country.  And he played only one collegiate season.
  • He was drafted #1 by the Nationals in 2010; signed a 5-year, $9.9 million contract with 26 seconds left before the signing deadline. His signing bonus was $6.25 million.
  • He struggled early in his minor league career because as an optometrist told him, “You have some of the worst eyes I’ve ever seen.” Once he received contact lenses, he hit an amazing .480.
  • His major league debut occurred on April 28, 2012; he was an All-Star that year; and he was named the National League’s Rookie of the Year.
  • Including this season, he has hit a home run on opening day every year in the majors.
  • His longest career home run (461-feet) is, naturally, against the Phillies.
  • He is a Seventh Day Adventist and drinks no alcohol.

A 4-3 Phillies win at the end of a nice Easter Sunday would have been a perfect way to end the day, but now that I know more about Bryce Harper and his road to the majors, it’s very hard not to respect his talents and his work ethic.  I wish he just wouldn’t be so hard on the Phillies.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. The Eagles might want to consider hiring the “Easter Bunny” as a linebacker. Take a look.

https://twitter.com/Nationals/status/853686707555840000/photo/1

And it was a legal hit – the bunny did not lead with his EARS!!

  1. Image, either good or bad, is so important for professional athletes. It often determines their future once they decide to leave the game they play.  Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning always appeared to be one of those squeaky clean guys, much like his brother Peyton.  Now we hear he may be involved in a memorabilia scam to sell items advertised as game-used when they were not and is being sued.  I have never been enamored with sports mementos, but this should be an interesting story.
  2. Last week, I spoke of some potential rule changes to shorten baseball games. The first report is out for this season and the games are averaging over five minutes longer than last year.
  3. The Chicago Cubs passed out their championship rings this past week. 108 white diamonds, 33 custom-cut red rubies and 46 blue sapphires make up the face.  The inner band features the infamous goat.

Cubs Rings        5.  Our first look at Lafayette’s new head coach, John Garrett, will take place on Saturday, April 29, when we televise the Lafayette Maroon-White game. The action is LIVE at 1:00pm.

Behind the Mic: SportsTalk

I appeared on Sports Talk this past Thursday with Chris Michael and Joe Craig.  I always enjoy the repartee between Chris and Joe, and Chris and the guests.  The second guest was Brian Ludrof, Lafayette’s Assistant Sports Information Director, who just happens to be my grandson.

It was the 500th Sports Talk and that deserves special mention.  Chris and Joe have continuously made this show better.  The guests have gone from just being very local to today, with the advent of Skype, where guests can be from pretty much anywhere.  The show continues to look and sound better and that’s a tribute to the “behind the scenes” group that deals with graphics, audio, and directing.  We all look forward to the next 500!

Chris always has a segment on the show called the “Roundtable Discussion”.  It is a rapid-fire reaction to some of the current sports stories of the day.  The five topics this past week were all intriguing so I thought I would elaborate on my thoughts:

  • Is Bryce Harper worth $400 million?
    • The Washington Nationals’ may have the best player in baseball in Harper, but $400 million? Right now, Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins is signed to a $325 million contract.  I have reservations about saying anyone is worth that much, but I also have no doubt $400 million is going to happen soon.  Harper is the most likely candidate to get it.
  • Is the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas a good idea?
    • Not if you ask the NFL. The League would like to maintain the façade that they are not part of the sports gambling that is associated with the NFL.  Putting a team in the gambling Mecca of the U.S., I’m sure, does not sit well with the front office.  Secondly, Vegas is very small market compared to the rest of the NFL cities.  I do think the Raiders really want to stay in California, so it may very well have more to do with what the San Diego Chargers decide (stay in San Diego or move to LA).
  • Should or will Carson Wentz play three or more games with the Eagles?
    • The RavensJoe Flacco started right out of Delaware, but the Ravens were desperate. The Eagles are not.  Barring injuries to both Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel or a complete collapse of the team indicated by the win/loss record, I do not think Carson Wentz will play.  The Eagles would be best served to follow the Aaron Rodgers plan of learning behind a veteran (Brett Favre) for a few years and then making him the franchise QB.
  • Name a rule change you would like to see in football at any level.
    • I have a few – (1) Make the NFL extra-point rule permanent; (2) Since there seems to be more cheap shots these days, immediate ejection after the second personal foul in one game; (3) Make “half-the-distance to the goal-line” penalties the full distance in order to attain a first down.  In other words, a holding penalty on first down at the offensive teams’ ten-yard line should put the ball on the five, but move the chains to make it 20 yards for the first down (that would still make it a true 10-yard penalty).
  • Name a current athlete who captures your attention.
    • Right now, at this time of the year, it’s Jordan Spieth. He has become my Tiger Woods in the sense that I will watch the tournaments he plays in.  He is not dominating right now, but will most probably be ready for the next major at Oakmont.  I know I will watch.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
 

  1. Joe Maddon, former Lafayette student, has the Chicago Cubs playing the best baseball in the majors by far. His team is already eight games ahead of the second-place Pirates in the National League Central.  The Cubs are winning 75% of their games!
  2. Speaking of winning, how about those Phils? They are six games over .500, own the second best record in the National League, and are only one game out of first place.  Just amazing!!
  3. RCN and The Lafayette Sports Network will be celebrating their 20th year together bringing Lafayette College athletics this coming fall football season. It sure does not seem that long since I sat in the Lafayette Athletic office and cemented the relationship.  That was 1996 and it was a long time ago.
  4. The Blue Mountain League baseball schedule started this past Thursday and RCN will once again have the BML Game of the Week starting Tuesday, June 21.
  5. The US Open is at Oakmont this year which is in Pittsburgh. I played the course a few years back and found it to be the hardest course I have ever played.  I spent more time in the sand than I normally do at the beach.  My caddy put a sand rake in my bag so he would not have to walk for one every time.  On one hole, I avoided the sand, but caught him raking a trap anyway.  I asked what he was doing and he replied, “Just staying in practice”.  I tipped him anyway!