Blog Entry

Harper facing most scrutiny since ... Jackie?

Posted on: July 26, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 10:55 pm

By Matt Snyder

I don't doubt that Bryce Harper is facing pretty heavy hype and scrutiny as the game's top prospect makes his way through the minor leagues in the Nationals' system. He's reportedly faced lots of profanity and heckles from fans at nearly every stop. Unfortunatly, that's what comes with being a famous athlete these days. What is even more unfortunate is when a pair of his coaches decide to make a Jackie Robinson mention. From an upcoming story in Sports Illustrated:
Harper, a travel-baseball phenom out of Las Vegas at 10, an SI cover boy at 16 and a $9.9 million signee at 17, is the most well-known minor leaguer since Michael Jordan. But Jordan was a novelty, not a prospect. Harper is the most scrutinized prospect since....

"Jackie Robinson," says Tony Tarasco, a former major leaguer and a Nationals minor league coordinator who has become Harper's player-development Yoda. "You have to go back to Jackie Robinson to find anybody who goes through this much scrutiny. It wasn't like this for [Stephen] Strasburg. Wasn't like this for Alex Rodriguez."

Jackie Robinson? Surely Doug Harris, the Nationals' director of player development, with 21 years in pro ball as a player, scout and executive, would find a different comparable for Harper.

Independent of Tarasco, Harris offered, "This is really unfair and it's totally different, but if I can make a comparison to one guy that has been scrutinized like this, it would be Jackie Robinson. And it's unfair because it was a different standard. He was under a microscope in an era when we didn't have Internet, didn't have cellphones.

"Now, Jackie Robinson had his life threatened. I'm not comparing Bryce to that. But as far as nonstop scrutiny? Absolutely. Day to day."
I'm glad Harris qualified his statements and made sure to point out that what Harper faced and what Robinson faced are two completely different things, but that doesn't make the mention any less absurd. As 'Duk at Big League Stew pointed out, Strasburg faced tons of scrutiny and hype just last season.

What exactly is Harper hearing that draws the mention of a man who had to endure brutal racism, death threats and more day-in-day-out that few of us can even imagine?

"Some of the stuff I hear, I can't say," Harper said (from the above linked SI article). "It's bad stuff. I do hear stuff like 'moneymaker,' 'moneybags.' ... I get 'overrated' a lot -- that's just old. It comes with the territory, I guess. I'm not going to let it bother me."

I'll avoid getting sanctimonious or worked up here, so let's just bottom line it. That's nothing the overwhelming majority of major leaguers don't hear on a daily basis during road trips. Harper himself said it doesn't bother him.

This is not the stuff of Jackie Robinson. Let's leave his name alone in discussions like this.

UPDATE: Harris has followed up on the conversation with a mea culpa: "In talking to Tom[Verducci of Sports Illustrated], my sole intent was to speak to the scrutiny that Harper faces on a daily basis," Harris said. "That said, the hardships that Mr. Robinson endured in/around 1947 were unique and historical in context. While Harper's current situation is extraordinary by most measures, it pales in comparison to the life of Mr. Robinson, nor will it approach the lasting impact. I regret making this ill-fated correlation." (CSN Washington)

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 21, 2011 4:10 pm
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 19, 2011 11:01 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 8, 2011 11:12 pm

Harper facing most scrutiny since ... Jackie?

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Since: Oct 27, 2008
Posted on: August 21, 2011 10:44 am

Harper facing most scrutiny since ... Jackie?

C'mon Jackie Robinson? Is this guy serious? Jackie also had to hear it from his peers. Not even close buddy.

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: July 27, 2011 6:06 pm

Harper facing most scrutiny since ... Jackie?

XBombersX - you asked if I personally think Harper has had it tougher than Larry Doby.

Um, of course not.  I think that's a ridiculous statement.  But the fact that someone doesn't remember Larry Doby off the top of their head doesn't make them a heretic.  Mistaken, sure.  But it's not like they've taken Larry Doby's name in vain. 

I'd even offer that there are a bunch of other guys who have faced profoundly more scrutiny - the way the article was worded didn't restrict the coaches to baseball players.  Think any President has faced more scrutiny?  Absolutely.  Hell, add the recently acquitted mother on trial.  Think there was just a little scrutiny there?

But this isn't about Jackie Robinson.  The coaches clearly stated that.  What they revealed was that, off the top of their head, they couldn't think of anyone who faced Harper's level of scrutiny SINCE Robinson.  Again, where's the harm in that statement?

But since both guys' names end up in the same sentence, reading comprehension goes out the window and people start screaming.  Because its easier to scream than read, apparently.

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: July 27, 2011 5:58 pm

Harper facing most scrutiny since ... Jackie?

XBombersX, no it doesn't infer that. 

It simply states that the guys interviewed, when pressed for examples of guys who have faced as much scrutiny, couldn't come up with any.  They both stated that Jackie Robinson's scrutiny was different and more intense, but the level of scrutiny for Harper is similar to players in between.

I just don't get this "heresy" stance so many have taken.

If you want to take Larry Doby, maybe you're correct.  Maybe not - because the guys interviewed are obviously discussing the VOLUME of scrutiny, not characterizing it.  It's abundantly obvious to anyone who can get past their grand indignation that the guys interviewed were considering the media first and foremost.

BTW, it's not "disgraceful" to compare any two people or struggles, when you clearly state that the one everyone acknowledges to have suffered more did indeed do so.  If you compare Lindsay Lohan's life to Mother Teresa's and state that Mother Teresa clearly contributed more to society, that is entirely harmless.  The mere fact two things can be compared doesn't harm either one.  It would be entirely different if some clown tried to make the case that, despite knowing all that Robinson went through, Harper is somehow "suffering" on anything remotely close to the same level.  But that's not what the coaches said, and it wasn't implied.  People are simply so Pavlov-trained to take offense that they don't bother to think about what's actually being said.

Since: Mar 9, 2007
Posted on: July 27, 2011 4:07 pm

Harper facing most scrutiny since ... Jackie?

Hawkman: how are you trying to defend this article? No they are not comparing Bryce Harper directly to Jackie Robinson, but the comment infers that his struggle is comparable to the struggles of negro players breaking the color barrier. How about Larry Doby that broke the AL color barrier shortly after Jackie Robinson? Think Bryce had it harder than him?

Its disgraceful to compare a spoiled white kid making 9.9 million at 17 to anyone that broke their team's color barriers after Jackie Robinson did.

Since: Feb 5, 2008
Posted on: July 27, 2011 3:37 pm

Harper facing most scrutiny since ... Jackie?

I can only say one thing.  How dare anybody compare this @sshole pos to Jackie.  Jackie was a legend, and nobody will or should have to go through what he had.  A brave gentleman that is uncomparable in any aspect.  Didnt pay attention to who wrote this article but they should be fired for such humiliating comparison.  CBS, fire this schmuck

Since: Feb 14, 2008
Posted on: July 27, 2011 3:28 pm

Harper facing most scrutiny since ... Jackie?

This is obnoxious.  Jackie Robinson was a hero and a great great man.  Bryce Harper shouldnt even be mentioned in the same breath as Jackie Robinson.
He is a punk, a spoiled brat.  No way is he comparable to Jackie Robinson.

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: July 27, 2011 2:55 pm

Harper facing most scrutiny since ... Jackie?

It's amazing to me how many people can't actually comprehend what they're reading.  They read "Bryce Harper" and "Jackie Robinson" in the same article and act like someone compared the two.

READ the comments, people.  This excuse for a "story" is solely about level of scrutiny, and the comparison is between Harper and the players who have been around SINCE Jackie Robinson.  NOT JACKIE ROBINSON.  Why is that so hard to understand?

Oh, yeah.  Reading comprehension.

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