This year, that great American tradition comes to an end. To be honest, it was a little beneath us. Although I tried to keep the list from becoming a clearinghouse for personal vendettas (otherwise, 17 of the 20 players would have been Red Sox), it was still essentially a list of people I don’t like. So this year, we’re changing gears and only naming the single biggest douchebag in all of baseball:
Bryce Fucking Harper
And holy shit do I love him.
In placing at number 15 on last year’s countdown, Harper impressed with his douchebaggery before he ever caught whiff of a big league at bat. I wrote:
Oh, yes. Fresh, douchey blood. I couldn’t be more giddy with anticipation for Harper’s arrival in the big leagues. Just this year alone, he blew a kiss at a pitcher while closing out an interminable home run trot…
…got these tattoos…
…and bought this vehicle…
I think Bryce might be around on this countdown for a loooong time. And together with Strasburg, he could help form a douchebag nucleus that carries the Nationals right through this decade.
In retrospect, I underestimated Harper. He’s not going to be on the countdown for a long time…because he ended it single-handedly.
Since making his major league debut, Harper has added to his resume by:
- Flinging his helmet off while running the bases upon getting his first hit — solely to show off his fauxhawk
- Responding to Cole Hamels giving him a “welcome to the bigs, kid” plunking by stealing home — purely as a “fuck you” to Hamels
- Injured his face by slamming a bat into a wall — and being unprepared for the ricochet
- Coining the phrase “that’s a clown question, bro” — and then legally trademarking it
Harper is without a doubt the biggest douchebag around, and that’s precisely why I can’t get enough of him. His streak of jackassery combines with his enormous ego and his outsized talent to create the most compulsively watchable player in baseball. He has the most must-watch at bats since Barry Bonds in 2002 (before we were all sick of him).
Baseball is typically considered a staid, polite game, but there’s nothing inherent in the nature of the sport that demands it be so. Baseball players, managers, and fans tend to respect history and tradition to a fault, resulting in a strange adherence to unwritten rules about showing the other team up. Now, I’m not advocating for a return to the spikes-up play of the racist 1910s, but baseball can definitely use an infusion of personality.
On one side of that coin, we have R.A. Dickey, an eminently likable player and a seemingly great, intelligent guy — who has become one of the two best stories of the season. On the other, we have Bryce Harper — as hatable as Dickey is likable, and seemingly a dummy and an asshole. They’re both exactly what baseball needs, and it’s impossible to take your eyes off either one.
Harper has no interest in paying his dues or waiting an appropriate amount of time to cash in on his prodigious talent. He thinks he’s the best player in the game (he’s not…yet) and he carries himself as such on and off the field. And he plays the game with a violence that’s apparent in the way he swings, fields, throws and behaves. That aggression translates directly to charisma — even if it’s the charisma of an unlikable prick.
Baseball needed Bryce Harper. Its biggest douchebag and biggest draw.