Bryce Harper is on a mission. Of course, the reigning National League MVP heads a surging Washington Nationals team that will look to go deep into the playoffs come October. But Harper has his sights set on something perhaps even greater than the Nationals’ first World Series appearance. His mission? Make baseball fun again.
It is kind of a big problem. Baseball, deemed America’s national pastime, seems to be decreasing in popularity, especially in the younger generations. While people gather for Super Bowl parties for teams that most do not really care about, or are watching high-flying basketball players light up the highlight reel, baseball seems to slide quietly by. There is good reason for that. Baseball, especially compared to sports like football and basketball, is a much slower paced game with less moments of excitement. To a non-fan, baseball is boring.
Harper is here to change that. After the Nationals’ season opening win, a game in which Harper also had his first homer of the year, the MVP donned a white ball cap that read “Make Baseball Fun Again.” Apart from the obvious tribute to the campaign of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-In-A-Liberal-Arts-Newspaper, the slogan sums up the new generation of ballplayers who are taking the MLB by storm, a new generation that is, for lack of a better word, fun. With the stars of yesteryear in the twilight of their MLB careers, superstars like Harper and Mike Trout are heading the new class of players deemed best in the league.
Here’s the thing: both former MVPs, Harper is 23 years old while Trout sits at a relatively ancient 24 years of age. They are young, they are talented, but most importantly, they are having fun. While those two have been recognized as the best players in the game, more youngsters are hot on their heels. Guys like Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, Manny Machado, Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Noah Syndergaard and Kris Bryant are breathing fresh life into the antiquated sport that is baseball.
Their fun is contagious. No longer must fans suffer through watching old, steroid-enraged ballplayers who are past their prime. Instead, we have these young players who are transforming the game with their flashy plays in the field, quick base-running and overall joy to be playing on the big stage. Slowly but surely, these youths are connecting to the younger generations of baseball fans who are now eager to see their peers step up to the plate. While the World Series may never draw the same popularity as the Super Bowl, baseball is resurging in popularity. All of a sudden, baseball is becoming fun again.