As one of baseball's best players, Bryce Harper's voice and opinions carry more weight than the average MLB personality. And with his platform, the Washington Nationals star has chosen to deliver a specific message: that baseball should be fun, and "unwritten rules" historically enforced by older players limit everybody's fun.
Last month, Harper spoke about those "unwritten rules" in an ESPN feature:
"Baseball's tired," he says. "It's a tired sport, because you can't express yourself. You can't do what people in other sports do. I'm not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it's the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that's Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig -- there's so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.
"Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn't care. Because you got him. That's part of the game. It's not the old feeling -- hoorah ... if you pimp a homer, I'm going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot ... I mean -- sorry."
He stops, looks around. The hell with it, he's all in.
"If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I'm going to go, 'Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.' That's what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players -- Steph Curry, LeBron James. It's exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton -- I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It's that flair. The dramatic."
Continuing on his mission to return expression to the game of baseball, after belting a home run in an opening day win over the Atlanta Braves, Harper donned a hat very similar one popularized by someone who might also soon dwell in the nation's capital.
Regardless of your thoughts on the current Republican presidential frontrunner, or the current state of the MLB, this is objectively funny.
So, the next time Harper cranks one out of the yard and it takes him a bit longer than usual to round the bases, just remember, he's just trying to Make Baseball Fun Again. And when an opponent might seem to show his team up in a big moment, he'll need to remember the same thing.
Already 15 years and three names later, AT&T Park remains the best place to watch a Major League Baseball game. Between the amazing food, packed-out stands and the glistening bay in right field, San Francisco is lucky to call it home.