Bryce Harper is Proof the Times are a Changin’

by Deegan Stubbs | Posted on Saturday, March 12th, 2016
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Bryce Harper

Special to Baseball Hot Corner by Deegan Stubbs

Recently Washington Nationals sensation Bryce Harper said that in his opinion baseball is a ‘tired’ sport. He was referring to the dim view taken by many of what used to be called hot-dogging.

The ‘in your face’ reaction to hitting a homerun or striking out a batter, including but not limited to an exaggerated bat toss as the ball rattles around in the bleachers and a slow trot round the bases, or staring down a strikeout victim all the way back to the dugout, are becoming commonplace in Major League Baseball. Harper’s point is that these are, like it or not, part of modern MLB.

Perhaps more than any other, baseball is a game steeped in tradition. It has a long rich history that is never very far from the current game. Monuments and plaques honouring former stars adorn ballparks around the league. Rule changes, with the obvious exception of the egregious designated hitter rule, are usually small tweaks to the game.

While the NFL has a taunting penalty for situations of rubbing a player’s nose in it after he has been beaten, many touchdowns are celebrated in what might best be described as unique ways. Gone are the days of the simple ball spike after a TD. In fact some teams must work as much on choreographing their end zone celebrations as they do on running pass routes during practice.

I find myself coming down on the traditional, respectful approach to celebrations. If you hit a homerun off of me, just get around the bases a quickly as you can thanks. Of course in return I would expect my teammates to do likewise when they go long. But then I’m in my mid-fifties. Bryce Harper is 23. His approach to the game reflects his generation.

Whenever I find myself pooh-pooing the trash talk and flagrant embellishments of celebrations while watching baseball, a little voice in my head reminds me of something. There was a time, not so very long ago, when folks of my age were dissing Elvis. That’s not music. That’ll never last. This Rock ’N’ Roll nonsense is just a passing fad. Well, look how wrong you can be.

Mobile phones being used to text during movies and in classrooms is something that was at one time verboten. But even in the relatively short history of mobile phones, a chunk of the population has grown up doing those things, they are natural to them and they are flummoxed as to why they should be asked to stop.

Much like the effect of rock ‘n’ roll and mobile phones on our society, I believe Harper’s attitude toward the way baseball is played is a reflection of the times. And as Bob Dylan, who counts among his thousands of songs the baseball-related Catfish once put it in one of his more notable classics:

Then you better start swimmin’

Or you’ll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin’

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Deegan Stubbs
About the Author

Deegan Stubbs is a baseball fan who still laments the loss of his beloved Expos. Follow Deegan on Twitter @DCMontreal or check out his blog at

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