Reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper had a nice Opening Day on Monday, homering in his first at-bat and finishing 1-3 with two walks and a stolen base in a Nationals win. Harper has now homered in four Opening Days over the course of his career, and — insofar as one game is any real indication — looks just as dominant as ever.
In the locker room after the game, Harper busted out a new accessory — an apparent Donald Trump-inspired trucker hat that read, in red caps: “MAKE BASEBALL FUN AGAIN.”
Since he entered the league, and especially over the past season or so, Harper has vocally led the charge against old-school baseball fans who have often criticised younger and flashier players for breaking the unwritten rules of the sport. Harper, a flashy player but also one of the sport’s highest-profile, has pushed back against this and cited it as a reason why people often say the sport is dying.
“Baseball’s tired,” Harper said in an ESPN the Magazine story from March. “It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do.”
“You want kids to play the game, right?” he added. “What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players — Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton — I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.”
After the win on Monday, Harper thrice mentioned how fun the game was.
“Coming here playing, it’s a lot of fun,” he said. “They had a sold-out crowd today. That’s huge. 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.”
As Harper has evidently learned from Trump, it’s one thing to get your message across with some quotes to the media. It’s another to wear that message on your hat.