Rob Manfred: ‘Bryce Harper is a spokesman for this generation’
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on Thursday spoke out in support of players showing more emotion on the field. And while he said he respects the opinions of traditionalists and the like, he believes that it’s up to players like Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper to rewrite baseball’s unwritten rules as they take control of the game.
In fact, Manfred went so far as to say the 23-year-old Harper, one of the most charismatic players in baseball, is “a spokesman for this generation.”
“I think to the extent that you believe, and I actually do, that Bryce Harper is a spokesman for this generation, I suspect that you will see more exuberance from our players on the field,” Manfred said during a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors, via ESPN.
The entire debate concerning the role of emotion and celebrating in baseball began with Harper flaunting baseball’s so-called unwritten rulesby saying during spring training that the game is “tired.”
Around the same time, Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage put the entire new generation of players on blast — specifically Harper, Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista and New York Mets star Yoenis Cespedes — saying Harper has “no respect” for the game and arguing that Bautista is a “disgrace” to baseball.
Manfred seemed to be referring to Gossage when saying it’s not the players’ obligation to do things the way the previous generation did, arguing that allowing the new generation of ballplayers conduct themselves in a manner befitting their age makes the game more attractive to younger fans.
Specifically concerning Gossage’s profane rants, Manfred said that he doesn’t mind the cantankerous pitcher speaking his mind.
“He’s entitled to have his opinion. I don’t happen to agree with him on this particular topic,” he said. “Goose and his peers developed a set of unwritten understandings about what was acceptable on the field when he played the game, and I think the generation of players that are on the field today are going to do the same thing. I think that it may not be exactly the same as it was when Goose played, and you know, from my perspective that’s good thing.”
But overall, Manfred seems to believe it’s up to Harper and his colleagues to “Make Baseball Fun Again.”
Given that Harper is arguably the best player in baseball, using his NL MVP season last year as a springboard to an incredibly hot start to this spring, Manfred arguably couldn’t have identified a better spokesperson.