Baseball prodigy Bryce Harper is facing some scrutiny. He’s expected to be the franchise-saving superman at 18. He has drawn heat for some issues of his own making. He’s the only nationally known name in the low minors. Naturally, not one but two Washington Nationals executives drew a comparison with another baseball player who faced scrutiny, Jackie Robinson.
From Tom Verducci’s SI Piece.
“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.”
Absolutely. Bryce Harper having a few baseballs thrown at him day to day, for being an immature dick, is surely analogous to Jackie Robinson facing the full brunt of America’s racism because of his skin color.
Consider the onslaught Bryce is under. Internet. Cell-phones. 24-hour media. Blogs! They didn’t even have ESPN when Robinson played. When Jackie wasn’t single-handedly confronting an actively hostile public, legalized segregation in the north and south and 300 years of history, he could really sit back and get some me time.
Bryce Harper chooses to isolate himself from his teammates. Many places Jackie Robinson went, the choice was made for him.
[Photo via Getty]