Bryce Harper Is Not Quite a Hero — Esquire
Would still be better than Romney…
Our Athletes Are Not Meant to Fit Our Ideologies
In case you missed it, The Daily Caller, the small dead tree on which Tucker Carlson has hung the remains of his career, probably to frighten off evil spirits and common decency, had a week that will live in the annals of American jackassery. Everybody knows about Caller correspondent Neil Munro’s deft performance in the role of Obnoxious Subway Crazoid in the Rose Garden on Friday. However, all the noise surrounding that may well have caused you to miss what was perhaps the worst piece of writing about American sports since the last time Phil Mushnick saw a kid with his drawers drooping low.
It’s rarely pretty when our young conservatives try to “hip” themselves to popular culture in general, but their attempts at wedging sports into the ongoing shouting match between the voices in their heads are usually the most hilarious. (A while back, The Weekly Standard essayed an all-sports issue that actual sportswriters laugh at to this day. I mean, honestly, Fred Barnes on the NBA? That would have been like sending young Bill Kristol to CBGB back in the day.) This is an attempt to enlist Bryce Harper, the authentic phenom of the Washington Nationals — and I’m not kidding, he came into Fenway and lit the joint on fire a week or so ago, and you you should see him if you have the chance — into the author’s personal quest for a guest slot on Hannity.
(Apropos of nothing, I have simply got to get a copy of this guy’s book on sex, rock and roll, and Catholicism — “Indeed, it is such a ubiquitous theme that it’s impossible to run through my favorite bands without coming face-to-face with it. The punk group the Replacements, my favorite band when I was in my twenties, have a song called “I Will Dare,” about working up the courage to meet a girl. The Allman Brothers sing of “Sweet Melissa.” The entire Motown canon, from Marvin Gaye to Stevie Wonder, is a joyful soundtrack of the quest for love-more specifically, the quest for the love of that one person… — if only to read the lengthy exposition of how, say, “Let’s Get It On” is really about the God-centered quest for monogamous love as demonstrated by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and not about Marvin’s desire to seduce every woman in a 20-block radius. I don’t even want to think about his interpretation of “Sexual Healing.”)
Let us begin with the lead, wherein the author makes sure we know right from the opening pitch that this is more than just his appreciation of a young baseball player’s talents:
Bryce Harper is a conservative hero. The star rookie for the Washington Nationals has woken up Major League Baseball, and watching it unfold has reminded me of nothing so much as the collapse of the old political paradigms and the inevitable and upcoming rebirth of conservatism in November.
In other words, Bryce Harper is a conservative hero because my own very bizarre interpretation of his ascendance makes him one. Bear in mind, I can look at a tackhammer, and it will remind me of nothing so much as the collapse etc. etc. etc. SOROS!!!
This became clear to me on May 26 of this year. The Nationals were playing Atlanta, and in the fifth inning Harper, with his team leading by two, singled to right. The ball was hit to Braves right fielder Jason Heyward. Heyward strolled up to the ball as if he were walking to the corner for a paper. Harper promptly headed for second base. Heyward suddenly woke up and fired to second base, but too late. More than one sports writer has noted that this moment was no small thing for baseball. It was like the part in the movie “Awakenings” when the guy who was asleep for 30 years wakes up.
Yes, because no player in the past three decades ever has taken an extra base on a dilatory outfielder. Then, everybody read Hayek’s Baseball Abstract, and started hustling again. And surely I’m not the only person who’s noticed that the hustling white player and the lazy black player — baseball archetypes since the author’s grandfather was playing in the segregated major leagues — have made an appearance here, which is surely accidental.
Heyward’s bungle showed a complacency, if not indolence, that Harper threatens to destroy, but it also could be a metaphor for the collapse of the old liberal order. Heyward was like one of those public school teachers who, because they are a union member, can’t be fired and so are relegated to the “rubber room” to sit and read the paper and gather a check for the rest of their lives. Or even Obama, who went from Hawaii to Harvard to the White House and never seems to have had to slide head-first into a base his entire life.
First of all, sliding head-first is stupid, and most coaches will tell you that. Bryce Harper seems a nice enough lad, but he’s the product of a two-parent Mormon home in Las Vegas, Nevada, and he has been on a very comfortable sleigh-ride to success since he was 17. When Barack Obama was 17, his father was long gone, and he was one of three black students at Punahou Academy in Honolulu. We have moved in our parade of Nasty Racial Archetypes from the Lazy Black Ballplayer to the Unqualified Affirmative Action Hire. On the basepath of polite conservative racism, Judge is playing station-to-station ball.
Watching Bryce Harper play is like listening to an economic speech by Paul Ryan: It’s long on reality and short on excuses.
Excuse me for a moment. Common sense got caught in my throat for a second here.
Harper has slapped baseball awake, and every time he steps up to the plate, years of crusty baseball routine no longer apply. He swings the bat with a blinding snap of force, and in the outfield dives for balls that bored veterans would let go.
And this makes him different from, say, the young Ken Griffey, Jr., how, exactly? (Ooh! Ooh! I know! I know! Call on me!)
When he hits a double he usually tries to stretch it into a triple. Manager Davey Johnson tries to bench him for being hurt, and Harper confronts him and says, like a person with enough dignity to refuse welfare: Let me work. Then he wins the game with a crucial hit.
When Paul Ryan was 17, the same age Bryce Harper was when people began to notice how good he was, he was living on Social Security survivor’s benefits. And there was no shame in his game, either.
Harper also adapts. When pitcher Livan Hernandez froze the 19-year-old Harper with a slow curve ball, Harper adjusted his batting and next time up Harper hit a game-winning home run.
Again, until the imminent triumph of conservative ideas, no batter ever tried to outguess a pitcher. Good thing Jim DeMint and the Club For Growth figured it out.
The left, like Jason Heyward dozing in the outfield, sees nothing wrong with the way things have worked, or even not worked, for the past 40 years. Teachers should never be fired, no matter how incompetent. It is anathema for public-sector union members to pay for even a small percentage of their own health care. Sex-ed taught without reference to the human soul can only do good, and has nothing to do with promiscuity and the collapse of female self-esteem. And we can spend all the money in the world and never have to pay it back.
The Left is all lazy undignified blackity-blacks.
But the world changes, and we are supposed to learn lessons from those changes. Conservatives, and even a few young liberals, accept that life isn’t fair, but that winners tend to be people who shake things up and pivot, even while never forgetting sound fundamental principles. This a good definition not only of Bryce Harper, who electrifies even while never botching the basics, but Mitt Romney, who understands the creative destruction of modern capitalism even as he has mastered the fundamentals of economics. Liberals will falsely claim that Romney wants to return to the 1950s, while never admitting that they are stuck in the much more dysfunctional 1960s.
Bryce Harper has worked very hard to get where he is today. Mitt Romney was born in the dugout with three runs in and the bases loaded, and he’s pissed because the umpire just called a ball. Bryce Harper’s fundamentals are finely honed, hour after grinding hour. Mitt Romney’s fundamentals can be summed up in the phrase, “Don’t ever spend the principle.” And, actually, Mitt wants to return us to the 1890′s.
We have to do things differently, just as Bryce Harper is not playing baseball the old way.
Wait. I thought that Harper was a throwback to the old way of playing baseball, before old man Rickey went crazy and let all those lazy blackity-blacks into the game to ruin it.
Harper is not going to sit back and accept what the status quo tells him to accept (where does he get off stealing home?). And conservatives are not going to expect to retire at age 65 or to send their kids to the college of their choice if it costs $50,000 a year. We are going to adapt.
Actually, most of you are going to eat catfood, die of once preventable illnesses, and wonder how it all happened to you, and probably blame The Government, or The Liberals, or the lazy blackity-blacks. (Mitt Romney’s great-grandchildren, meanwhile, will be doing fine, thanks, and will send their regards.) And what “status quo” is Harper refusing to sit back and accept? The entire game is at his feet right now. If you don’t believe me…
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