Bryce Harper has a role model. Sure, that role model retired 15 years before Harper was born, but it’s a role model all the same:
Harper doesn’t plan to make any adjustments off the field. Known to speak his mind on Twitter, Harper plans to be himself. Harper is a sports history buff, and he would like to live his life the way Jets quarterback Joe Namath did during his heyday in the 1960s and early ’70s. Namath was known to be flamboyant off the field, but backed it up by having a Hall of Fame career.
Great, now we’re going to be inundated with stories about Harper filming remakes of “C.C. and Company” and making guest appearances on the “Flip Wilson Show.”
But let’s be clear about something: if you are inclined to cut Harper more slack now that he seems less willing to just be a punk kid but, rather, has a role model who lived large off the field but backed it up on the field, know that he called Namath’s era “back in the old days,” and his reminding us of how damn young he is while we grow ever-older is simply disrespectful.
The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.
Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.
Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.
Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.
Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.
There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.
Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.