Rachel Levitin: Electric Harper challenging short attention spans

It’s not the most reliable of sources, but Bleacher Report had an interesting take on the Bryce Harper kiss situation. While the unwritten rule of respecting one’s opposition by not showing them up was clearly broken, Bleacher Report is under the impression that this is a rule that should be broken. Why? Because people want to be entertained while watching a game.

In today’s 24-hour news cycle and constant state of connectivity, the attention span of the average person has dwindled to dust. It’s like Ellen DeGeneres’ character Dory in the 2003 film “Finding Nemo” said: We can’t remember anything after it’s struck our fancy because some bit of shiny, new information comes to take it over.

We’ve all heard the complaints: “Baseball is boring,” “Nothing happens,” “You have to wait forever just to see some action.” So I get where Bleacher Report is coming from by justifying Harper’s kiss to the opposing pitcher while rounding third after hitting a colossal home run. But as a baseball traditionalist who likes to see the rules followed for the game’s integrity, I feel as if this specific rule should be abided by.

Harper isn’t even in his 20s yet, so he should be cut some slack. He’s learning, but should also know better. Is that what the public likes about him? It might very well be. He could, in fact, be breathing new life into the game Washington fans. He’s a character, much like his childhood idol Mickey Mantle. They both have electricity, a great characteristic to describe their play. That’s what makes Harper so fun to watch.

If he’s got that “touch of Mick” to his performance and demeanor, do fans and players let him get away with breaking an unwritten rule and see if he ever does it again, or hope that he continues to mold his own baseball path by creating an on-the-field personality to match his behavior off-the-field?

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times once wrote, “The home run is hard work. It’s what happens afterward that separates the boys of summer from the showmen.”

For now, Harper is somewhere in between an official boy of summer and a 21st-century athletic showman. After a few rounds in the farm system, though, he’ll put in his time and learn first-hand what it’s like to live and breathe baseball at the professional level. If he keeps this up, he may just create a whole new type of ballplayer for the next generation of fans to admire.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation’s capital this week as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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