Nationals Baseball: Bryce Hypocriter

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Bryce Hypocriter

This still stands

And this is still happening

As I've said - I don't care if Bryce actually participates in the Derby. Do what you want. I do care that Bryce made a big show at the beginning of the year about wanting to "make baseball fun again" then when given the opportunity to do something most casual fans consider baseball's "funnest" thing, he refuses. If you don't actually want to put effort into making baseball fun - then don't talk about it.

So what does Bryce actually want then? He wants baseball to love everything that he does. He considers that "fun".  Bryce wants to make baseball fun again... for himself.  Honestly this isn't a terribly big deal. But bad show, Bryce. We're past the "just a kid" part of your life. No excuses now for when you do something stupid.

Of course most Nats fans won't care about him not being in the HR Derby*  They'll care about the fact he has not yet began hitting like Bryce Harper can hit. Tehy'll care that he struck out looking (what is he, a Met?) in the biggest at bat last night. They'll care that the Nats are a loss and a Mets win from being right back where they were before the Mets series when a sweep was supposed to propel the Nats to a run away NL East given the upcoming schedules.  Oh well. Nats will be in first place - by a decent amount after
 July 7th.  Maybe a game or two closer than I'd like but certainly not in trouble. Maybe not the way you'd expect them to get here but still here. They are where they should be. That's all you can ask.

*Please note that the idea the HR derby messes you up is almost complete nonsense.  Don't make me go over the reasons why or pull out the stats. I'll do it. 


JE34 said...

I couldn't agree more. I think people generally responded positively to his Make Baseball Fun Again deal. Bryce has an opportunity to step up to game-ambassador status, if he were to be a vocal pied piper for the home run derby, perhaps even calling out fellow superstars to participate, saying, "let's do this!" THAT would be fun.

(Then all we'd have to do is give Chris Berman horse tranquilizers prior to the event.)

Then again, I suppose it's asking a lot for a 23 year old to assume that mantle, if that's not really his personality.

Eric said...

I dunno. I think Harper's point is that the day-to-day aspects of the game are tired. Pimping home runs and Ks, more fashion flare, whatever. I mean, personally I don't care about these things, but I think that's his point.

The Derby doesn't do anything to make the game itself more fun, it's just a fun event in and of itself (for some people...I have about 0 interest myself) that exists outside the grind of the season.

So, I don't think it's all that hypocritical.

BxJaycobb said...

Harper: I think you have this actually exactly backwards, and you're usually right on point. What on earth does participating in the derby have to do with making the game of baseball fun again. You're confusing marketing with changing the game to make it more entertaining. The derby's relative popularity (compared to actual games) with casual fans is a symptom of the very problem Bryce has talked about fixing. An exhibition contest should not be drawing as many casual eyeballs as the world series...the very fact that it's a big deal shows how much that type of celebration/pimping/fun is absent from the slow paced, often dreary day to day games. I actually think the MBFA crowd are properly embarrassed by the ratings the Home Run Derby gets, and point to it as evidence that the game itself can be made more entertaining by relaxing the old school codes, etc. So Bryce not wanting to always participate frankly doesn't surprise me. What would be contradictory is if he, for example, complained about a player pimping a homer in a game. Put simply, why on earth is declining to hit in a competition that IS STATUS QUO contradict a desire to change the way the game is played and regulated. This hangup makes no sense. If you asked Bryce, I bet he thinks the derby itself is tired. If I'm a die-hard MBFA advocate, I don't want the derby to be the main attraction. I want the game(s) to be the attraction. Imagine if the NBA dunk contest got comparable ratings to an NBA finals game. Of course it doesn't because most fans find NBA games super fast paced and entertaining and full of style and personality, etc.

Finally, I'll put aside the fact that I really can't stand sportswriters, columnists, and bloggers declaring what players' psychological motivations are---and just ask, what are you basing this view that his interest in MBFA is purely about making HIS PLAY and HIS LIFE etc fun? This theory just falls on hits own sword, frankly: if his interest was purely ego, why wouldn't he want to participate on the home run derby stage. It just makes no sense. He's full of himself and that's all he cares about, and that's why he's not hitting homers in front of a screaming crowd with the world watching?

Robot said...

The HR Derby is stupid and I don't care if Bryce participates or not.

I would, however, like him to go back to being BRYCE, as he was most of last season and April of this season.

Also, the Nats did what they needed to do against Cincinnasty. Milwaukee is giving them some trouble, but the Mets weren't supposed to shut down the Cubs like that. What the hell, Cubs?

Dave said...

Hypocrite? Your premise is false. The whole All-Star game is basically not fun. It is especially not fun for something that stupid "giving" home field advantage to the team that is lucky enough to be on the winning side. If you want to watch guys hit home runs off someone pitching batting practice balls, then show before any game. You will get your fix...

Bjd1207 said...

Yea I think Bx and Dave get closest to the root of the problem. Shouldn't the fact that a contrived contest only partially related to in-game skill is commonly viewed as the most fun and engaging event of the season be a problem? The Pro-Bowl and NBA all star games are jokes, as they should be. The drama of the finals/Super Bowl trumps those every time.

In baseball it's the opposite because the HR derby is the one time where guys get to relax from the rigid structure of typical MLB games and actually just have fun. What Bryce wants is the FUN atmosphere in the actual games. Get the crowd invested in a 3-2 count and when you jack a homer have a bat flip while they go wild.

In my opinion, the derby is much closer to the stuff we've been seeing the past few years with the NFL draft or the NBA dunk contest. Just clearly milking it for every single minute to jam as many viewers (and sponsors) into it as possible. You can watch pro softball players hit bomb after bomb. The most exciting parts of the game should be the REAL GAME, and if it's not then THAT'S where we start if we want to fix things.

Anonymous said...

Make The Leadoff Spot Productive Again.
Make Baserunners Hustle Out Of The Box Again.
Make Bryce Not Be Terrified Of Walls Again.
Make Ryan Zimmerman Replacement Level Again.
Make Gio A Performance Enhancing Drug User Again.

PotomacFan said...

I'm with Anonymous, at least regarding baserunning. Two times in the Cincy series, Mr. Fun admired a long hit -- that did NOT clear the fence, and he ended up with a very long single. What happened to Mr. Run Hard on Everything? I'm not down on Bryce, but he really needs to run hard until the ball clears the fence.

Mythra said...

Wife was at it again last night. She turned over to the game when I got home around 7:30. Her immediate remark: "Gio is pitching. Do you want to watch until the train wreck inning and then turn on Netflix?"

At least she had a plan B for Gio night. Granted, last night was not bad for recent Gio outings, but the comment still made me laugh and I wanted to share with those who might appreciate it.

RE: All Star and HR Derby. This thing died a decade ago when teams and players started skipping the break to rest their stars. And when one spam-voting fan base (Royals, Cubs) started stacking the votes. Just schedule a 4 game series between the Royals and Cubs and give everyone else days off. For the HR derby, just ban Joe Buck and Chris Berman from being within 500 miles of the thing and I'll be happy. Or better yet, do like the NFL and schedule it for the week after the World Series at Disney World. At least it'll fit in with all the other drama and spectacles there.

Nattydread said...

The undemocratic (vote now, vote as often as you can) nature of All Star Game player selection is sad, not fun. The sell-everything-in-the-shop philosophy of the ASG franchise (and this includes the home run derby) makes me sick. Given the 160 plus game treadmill that is a baseball season, if I were a baseball player I would kill to get 4 days off to do something besides play baseball.

Right now, when I see Bryce, I see a guy who is not having fun because he has come back to earth (anybody notice that his fall from performance grace -- to the day --- came after he sold his soul to UnderArmor) and is flailing and failing miserably. His campaign to bring back fun was important --- I'll give you this, Blog Harper --- when he was at the top of the heap. It is no fun for him when he K's more than Danny Espinosa. But I like Bryce and I want him back.

Wookiee of the Year said...

This might be crazy talk, but...

In the 2013 Home Run Derby, when it came down to Harper and Cespedes in the final, I was driving home from an event and listening to the Derby on the radio (clearly a low point in my life). The announcer commented that the AL bench was loud and cheering on Cespedes, but that the NL bench was empty. Apparently, all the NL players packed up and went home when it was Harper in the final.

Is it possible Harper's still bitter over that treatment and doesn't want to participate for that very reason?

I checked online after the Derby and didn't find any articles mentioning the vacant NL bench, though I did find a few commenters who remarked on it, so I believe it's true. Maybe this is too much conjecture, but I wanted to toss it out there.

Anonymous said...

Step 1 to Making the Home Run Derby Fun Again: Chris Berman dying or being prohibited from announcing the event, whichever is easiest to accomplish.

JE34 said...

(Truth be told, the last derby I watched was the Bryce derby, and he looked like an arrogant jack-hole at the time, as I recall.)

There's a lot wrong with the whole ASG experience, pretty well catalogued here, and I don't dispute that stuff.

I think lots of players value days off more than participating in these midseason exhibitions designed for fan entertainment (and, of course, league revenue). In a 162 game, 6 month grind, they have a sound case. That said, the Derby can reasonably be viewed as a way to give back to the fans, casual or otherwise. We want our superstars to think that way, to give the fans what they want. Which is fun, for them.

We just want to watch them sock a few dingers.

steven hamilton said...

I'm with the general sentiment here. Being elected to the All Star Game used to mean something back before the utter fanservice it's become, especially what NattyDread said about some fanbases dominating the "vote-as-often-as-you-can-with-every-fake-email-address-you-can-think-of" mentality.

I like giving the players a week off in the middle of the monsterouely long season, and if it was more like it used to be - real all stars, not just popularity contest of baseball names that trot out the same players year-to-year even if they haven't had a real all-star year in a long time - I'd be more interested, especially with a 'home field in WS' at stake.

Jay said...

Baker is switching Harper and Murphy in the batting order today. Likely trying to create more traffic on the bases for Harper. They really need Harper to start hitting better. Looks like the Mets are going to win today. Hopefully, the Nats can win one against Milwaukee tonight and keep lead at 4. I'm just hoping for a split against the Mets. We'll see what the next few days brings.

Kenny B. said...

I actually like the All-Star game. That is, I like the actual *game.* It's fun to see all the big stars interacting and having fun, and that I can watch it on national television instead of a local cable sports channel that I don't get. I like that it gives more casual fans a chance to see who is making waves for the teams they don't usually get to see.

I don't like the spam voting. I don't like that it decides homefield advantage. I don't like that they use it to hock a bunch of additional merchandise.

Nvertheless, I understand why players might decide to skip it, as discussed supra.

W. Patterson said...

@Jay - As long as the lead-off grounds out to second, there's one less chance that there will be more traffic on the bases for Bryce Harper.

And to join the ASG fray . . . I don't watch it. (Not that I'm missed. I'd just record it, anyway, and FF through the commercials.)

Sammy Kent said...

Bryce, here's what you can do to make baseball fun again. When you come up with the bases loaded and down by three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, DON'T LOOK AT A CALLED THIRD STRIKE.

Zimmerman needs to take himself out the lineup. Just man up and admit you're sucking donkey weenies and sit down for the good of the team. Dusty needs to give Clint Robinson some regular time, especially against righty starters.

Some of the stuff last night was just unbelievably stupid --cough DanielMurphyloafingthenstopstartingatsecondandgettingthrownoutatthird cough.

BxJaycobb said...

Just to be clear for everybody who's pretty down on Bryce. He's been roughly as valuable according to WAR as folks like Polanco, Cano, Anthony Rizzo, and Jackie Bradley Jr. So....All-Star level value. So he hasn't been MVP level value. Fine. Let's not act like he's been crappy. He's been great by any standard other than his own. Here's to hoping he returns to super-hero status. But until then, a little perspective.

Anonymous said...


THANK YOU. Yes Bryce is not BRYCE right now, but he's not Justin Upton. Plus he just put us on top :)

Mythra said...

Adding to the Bryce comments: He's hitting .300 over the last month and still drawing walks. I think he has some learning still to do before he's given a green light for stolen bases, but that's a new piece of his craft he's learning/improving on. Yeah, watching a long single off the wall just betrays his internal frustration, I think. He's -just- missing with good contact right now, but not 3rd deck contact.

Yeah, it sucks when he Ks with the bases loaded in the 8th. But Mighty Casey struck out too. No joy in Washington DC or Mudville, apparently.

4 games up today and 4 head-to-heads with the Mets coming up? If you'd have said that April 1st, every one of us would have been giddy with joy.

SM said...

Yes, Harper, explain--and pull out the stats if you have to--why the Home Run Derby doesn't affect the participants.

The usual way to explain it is to pull out each winner's splits and demonstrate no deleterious second-half effects following the Derby. And since 1985, most haven't shown such effects.

But I tend to look at it from another--albeit cynical, if you wish--viewpoint.

Many Derby winners don't decline offensively in the second half, but a number of them do. Is there a common denominator among those who continue to pound the ball? Or those who fade in the second half?

Well, one particular thing in common of Derby winners who declined in the second half--Junior Griffey twice; Justin Morneau; Frank Thomas; Todd Frazier; Garret Anderson; Luis Gonzalez; Tino Martinez; even Darryl Strawberry AND Wally Joyner in '86--is that they were not bedeviled by constant rumours of Performance Enhancing Drug useage.

This is neither to say the above-mentioned didn't use PEDs. Nor is it to say that all Derby winners whose second half production continued unabated used PEDs.

Still, the list of Derby winners without a significant second half decline--Bonds, Sosa, McGwire. Tejada, Cano, Cespedes and Ortiz among others--have all fought accusations of PED useage more than a few times, some, obviously, with less success than others.

Second half declines are attributable to any of several factors--fatigue and injury most prominently. Rolling along without any second half declines is attributable to any of several factors, too--absence of fatigue and injury also most prominently.

Make of the Home Run Derby effects what you will, but I don't buy that it has no, or even marginal, effect on a hitter's second half performance. (I think it's fatigue more than "messing up swings.")

Harper said...

Everyone - It sounds like you are saying "By 'make baseball fun again' - Bryce does not mean creating a enjoyable atmosphere around the entire sport which may bring in more casual fans, but instead making the regular game fun again for guys like me who are die-hard fans but appreciate a bit of attitude".

I re-read the article and yeah, that may be the case but the former makes more sense to me as a goal. If Bryce is serious about only allowing joy and emotion to come into the game (when apprapo) but not going beyond that... it feels like a half measure to me.

SM - you are leaving out a huge important factor here - selection bias. A lot of guys that make the HR derby do so bc they are having unusually powerful first halfs, halfs that are on some level out of character. So the second halves are less about "decline" and more about returning to normal. You also have to be careful looking at some of these stats because it's HR rate that matters not HRs. There are a good 20+ games less in the 2nd "half" so there is going to be fewer HRs.

Froggy said...

The HR Derby should be longest drive...10 swings per round only. Longest ball moves on. Currently it takes too long and isn't fun to watch batters just barely clear the fence after taking a bunch of pitches.

Robot said...

Thought: Every time Trea is moved around in AAA, his big-league counterpart has gotten hot. Danny has been on fire lately, Ben Revere is finally showing signs of life.

Any chance we can toy with giving him the closer's role? Or Gio's spot?

Ric said...

@SM, " I don't buy that it has no, or even marginal, effect on a hitter's second half performance."

@Harper, "Selection bias. A lot of guys that make the HR derby do so bc they are having unusually powerful first halfs, halfs that are on some level out of character. So the second halves are less about "decline" and more about returning to normal. You also have to be careful looking at some of these stats because it's HR rate that matters not HRs. There are a good 20+ games less in the 2nd "half" so there is going to be fewer HRs."

Perhaps Bryce doesn't want to participate in the Derby because HE thinks it effects his second-half performance. In 2013, Bryce hits 13 HRs in 201 ABs before the ASG. After the ASG/HRDerby, Bryce hits 7 HRs in 223 ABs.

We can agree that Bryce was not having an "unusually powerful first half". And seven HRs in half a season is not "returning to normal" for Bryce.

I'm not arguing that there is cause/cessation here. But in Bryce's mind, there probably is.