11/21/21 : Keeping it Real
When Bryce Harper was announced as the National League MVP my heart swelled with pride as a Phillies fan, it was an uplifting emotion and an adrenaline rush that comes with pure joy.
However the prouder moment for me was when he showed his own emotions and let us see more of the human side of him. We all witness the on field efforts, the way he attacks the game but we don’t often see from him the vulnerable side that’s within us all and the inner strength that it takes to overcome self doubts.
Bryce Harper showed us a far different person than what some believed him to be when he was younger … brash and arrogant, outspoken to perhaps a fault. This past week we saw a young family man who went out of his way to thank others and who put his emotions on display for all to see.
One of the folks he acknowledged was Phillies Director of Mental Performance Ceci Craft. Being hit in the face with a 97 mph fastball in April introduced more than physical trauma, the mental side of recovery perhaps was just as large or more of an obstacle to overcome. Bryce spoke about chatting with Craft about it and acknowledged how she helped guide him through the self doubts of getting back into the batters box once again.
There are those who may still ponder the need for roles like Ceci’s on baseball clubs. The “old school” thoughts of “suck it up” and “we didn’t need that in our day” false bravado. What if the great players of eras past had a similar outlet to share vulnerabilities with and get counseling on not only the daily grinds of baseball life but personal issues they were encountering … might it have made them better ? I think anyone with an open mind realizes that answer.
I’ve written many times about the stress of a long baseball season that it’s participants endure. How the game has evolved from showing up to spring training to get in shape to being expected to come to spring training ready to go. How the off-season calendar has shrunk not only in days but expectancies. Some may choose not to acknowledge the evolution of baseball in many aspects but indeed it has become more pressurized than ever and continues to trend in that realm.
That’s likely aligned to the state of our world, where “news” is instant, gossip is automated and criticism is shared by many like it’s a self earned privilege to bestow. The pressure of being a public figure must be enormous. Fan bases have always been outspoken, some relish in their “understanding” of what they pay to watch but seemingly fewer and fewer acknowledge the impacts of their “thoughts” on fellow humans.
It was refreshing to see Mr Harper share with us some of his “softer” emotions. It was enlightening perhaps to some that he has such a big heart towards family and those around him. It was invigorating that he accepted the award with such grace, humility and honor.
A reporter kidded with him during the subsequent zoom press call that “there’s no crying in baseball” and Bryce chuckled. However he showed us that there is crying in life. He showed us the love from within he possesses and that’s more than ok, it’s sincere - that’s truly keeping it real. This fan definitely appreciates that the most.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️