MLB rookies Harper, Darvish garnering a lot of attention |

MLB rookies Harper, Darvish garnering a lot of attention

Sports Geek
Jeff Sauer
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Jeff Sauer

At age 19, Bryce Harper is the youngest and most intriguing player on the baseball diamond right now.

Just two years removed from his stint at the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Harper is now living large in the nation’s capital after the Washington Nationals called him up from the minors a few weeks ago.

Once dubbed “The Chosen One” in a Sports Illustrated cover story when he was all of 16, Harper’s ascent to the big leagues at such a young age is quite the feat when you consider there are only 17 players who have played 100 games as a teenager in the history of the game.

Harper is the youngest to play in the “bigs” since Felix Hernandez, who was seven days younger than Harper when he debuted with Seattle back in 2005.

To say that Bryce Harper oozes with self confidence is an understatement. Some folks are put off by his poise, but the kid backs up his brashness with steady play, and unlike young phenoms in other sports, he understands the game he grew up dreaming to play, along with the rich history behind it.

As for the cockiness, it’s just part of his DNA, and it always has been.

I witnessed it firsthand at JUCO, when he was ejected from a game for arguing a called third strike.

Well, sort of.

After the call, Harper took the liberty of drawing a line in the dirt with his bat to show the umpire where the strike zone was.

It didn’t go over so well.

Call it what you will – pizzazz, flamboyance, showboating? The point is … he’s unpredictable, he plays with passion, and he sparks interest in the game of baseball. Whether he’s blowing kisses to minor league pitchers while circling the base paths or stealing home on the first stolen base attempt of his professional career, Harper has people watching closely, following his every move, and that’s good for the sport.

Down in Texas, Yu Mania is at a fever pitch (pun intended).

Yu Darvish, the first-year Japanese export, reportedly is the proud owner of a nine-pitch repertoire.

For those scoring at home, he throws a hand curve, slow curve, sweeping slider, down slider, four-seamer, two-seamer, cutter, split-finger change and a four-seam change.

Completely unfair, don’t you think? Kind of like the big kid that lied about his age pitching for the other team in Little League.

Darvish hopes to fare better than some of the recently hyped foreign pitchers in Major League Baseball, guys like the Red Sox’s Daisuke Matsuzaka (Dice-K), who have been one-year wonders. He was 18-3 in 2008 and 16-15 over the past three seasons.

Bryce Harper and Yu Darvish are both legitimate Rookie of the Year candidates in their respective divisions, but the fact that both of their teams are sitting in first place and could possibly meet in the World Series is interesting as well.

One thing is for sure. You’ll be hearing about both of these players for a long time.

Jeff Sauer is a longtime western Colorado resident and a former Roaring Fork Valley resident. He can be reached at

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