ESPN - "MAKE BASEBALL FUN AGAIN." Four words, stitched in red onto a white trucker's cap, sitting atop Harper's head as he addressed the media after homering on Opening Day. Let the fun begin. Let the culture war begin.
Mike Trout or Bryce Harper? This was the question all of baseball was asking themselves back in 2012 when both players were rookies. Trout had the better season, finishing second in the MVP voting, but Harper was still an all star and at just 19 years old was a year younger than Trout.
In the two years that followed Trout dominated Harper in every aspect, finishing second in the MVP voting in 2013 and finally winning the award a year later. Trout was humble and durable while Harper was thought of as an injury prone jackass.
Things began to change last year when Harper became the youngest unanimous MVP in baseball history. In his age 22 season Harper led the league in OBP, slugging, and WAR while hitting .330 with 42 homers. Trout was still great with another second place MVP finish, but it became clear Harper had figured things out. If all of baseball had a re-draft Bryceshould be taken first overall.
What most separates Harper from Trout is his marketability. Trout is the humble, soft spoken golden boy who calls his mom after every game. Aside from his gameplay he doesn't make many headlines. Harper is bold and brash. He isn't afraid to run into walls or say that baseball is tired. Now Harper is making headlines with his "Make baseball fun again" slogan.
Even baseball diehards will tell you that the game needs a little bit of life, which is why Harper is coming along at the perfect time. He is having a great start to the season too, leading the league with nine home runs and 24 RBI. He has the same amount of homers as strikeouts. Trout is great for the game too but he isn't having the cultural impact Harper is. This time last year Trout was the reigning MVP and Harper was an overrated punk. Things have changed. Here's to hoping Bryce can continue making baseball fun again.