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Box Office Bryce

by Matt Smith

Bryce Harper came to the attention of most baseball fans when he was labelled “Baseball’s Chosen One” on the front cover of Sports Illustrated as a 16 year old.

Human nature being what it is, from that very moment there were people all too keen to see this precocious young buck fall flat on his face.

In some ways they got their wish on Monday night when Harper went face-first into the outfield fence at Dodger Stadium in a classic ‘that’s got to hurt’ moment that is sure to be replayed countless times over the years.

However, far from knocking him down, the incident illustrates that the bold predictions of greatness from a young age were not mere hype.

There are talented athletes and then there are a select few who somehow capture the public’s imagination more than the rest. People are drawn to them, everything they do becomes a story and their triumphs and failures seem that much more extreme.

In part it is a direct reflection on their ability. In Harper’s case, he is clearly a gifted sportsman capable of producing athletic moments that even his teammates marvel at. The Washington Post recently published an outstanding feature on the young slugger’s hitting prowess – setting the benchmark for other media outlets on utilizing graphics, video and text in a compelling piece of online analysis.

But it goes beyond his skills and production at the plate.

Quite simply, he’s the sort of player you want to watch because you know that at any moment he can do something that will make you say ‘wow’; whether that’s hitting a monstrous home run or using his face to the test the structural soundness of a wall.

The attention he receives will mean some will soon be sick of the sight of him, if they’re not already. The most outstanding players tend to provoke extreme reactions; either you love them or hate them, there’s no in between.

But what everyone should agree with is that baseball is a more exciting place to have young stars like Harper coming through and making a name for themselves.

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