Saturday, December 17, 2016

Paying the Bryce

Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has let it slip he's seeking a ten-year contract for 400 million-dollars.

In a coincidence that is beyond remarkable, so am I. Of course, rain that gets hurt while falling is more likely than yours truly ever seeing such a thing.

Bryce, on the other hand, is another story.

The precious millennial, known for wearing a hat with 'Let's make baseball fun again' embroidered across the front and for telling a grizzled sportswriter “That's a clown question, dude”, is a good-but-not-great player.Yet in our culture of microwave celebrity, he is considered a brilliant one.

He did stitch together a nice 2015, for which he was immediately awarded the National League's Most Valuable Player trophy. But aside from that single season, his play has yet to spark even a single rumor that Babe Ruth has returned from the dead and is inhabiting a Washington Nationals uniform.

Maybe Bryce is just having one on us. Using Harper-speak to get us to lighten up. And if so, good for him. Few things in life are reported with the grim severity as the unmet needs of a professional athlete with an expiring contract.

On the other hand, maybe Harper is outrageously-coddled. Maybe he is someone who's never held down an after-school job, much less a Monday through Friday one. Maybe he's been given a pass from the demands and expectations of the maturation curve because he could hit a baseball. 

Add to this equation that his agent is Scott Boras, one held in contempt by more than a few baseball GMs for his fuck-your-team-I-play-for-my-client mentality, and things take a decidedly darker turn.

Forty-million dollars per for a guy who's never driven in a-hundred runs, never lined two-hundred hits, never won a batting title, finished one season with a slugging percentage over five-hundred and can claim but a single post-season performance that wasn't a disappointment?

The guy who finished in the top ten in his league's WAR exactly once (there's that word again) should be highest-paid player in baseball? Based on what? All of this factors into the Nationals' failure to advance beyond the opening round of the playoffs even once in three tries.

At his peak in 1930, Babe Ruth earned 80,000 dollars a year. Adjusted for inflation, that equals 1.1 million bucks a year in 2016 dollars. Any idea—any idea at all—why someone named Bryce Harper is worth forty times that?

Me, neither.

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