ATLANTA — In case you haven’t heard, Bryce Harper is all about the fun.
Following the Washington Nationals‘ 4-3 season-opening, extra-inning win over the Atlanta Braves, the reigning MVP addressed reporters while wearing a white trucker’s cap that read, “MAKE BASEBALL FUN AGAIN,” in red capital letters.
“Coming here playing, it’s a lot of fun,” said Harper, who was booed vigorously and repeatedly by the Turner Field crowd during a game in which he homered in his first at-bat of the year.
He didn’t miss the opportunity to take a subtle dig at the Braves’ boo-birds. “They had a sold-out crowd today. That’s huge,” he said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen Turner Field sold out. It’s a lot of fun to play here and enjoy that with the fans, and it was a lot of fun playing today.”
If you’re keeping score at home, that’s three times in one sound byte that Harper used the F-word. In all, Harper uttered the word “fun” five times in his 3-minute, 35-second postgame presser. Although fun frequency is nothing new for the Nats outfielder — when talking to media, he uses the word almost as much as the Smurfs use the word “smurf” — the Trump-like cap was an added wrinkle for the 23-year-old superstar, who has been increasingly vocal about the need to reinvigorate the Grand Old Game.
“Baseball’s tired,” Harper said in an ESPN The Magazine cover story published last month. “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.”
Count Harper among that group.