Harper: Let ballplayers show a little flair

NL MVP Award winner wishes MLB players could express more emotion

Harper: Let ballplayers show a little flair

Beyond his tremendous skills on the field, Bryce Harper is known for playing the game with visible passion and intensity -- even to the point of igniting controversy. But the reigning National League MVP Award winner isn't backing away from wearing his emotions on his sleeve while on the field.

Speaking to ESPN The Magazine, the Nationals outfielder complimented the "excitement" and "flair" of other young stars, and said he wished that baseball players gave each other more freedom to express themselves the way NBA and NFL stars do.

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"You can't do what people in other sports do," Harper said. "I'm not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it's the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that's Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig -- there's so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.

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"Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn't care, because you got him. That's part of the game. It's not the old feeling -- hoorah ... if you pimp a homer, I'm going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot ... I mean -- sorry."

High Heat: Harper's comments

Harper went on to compare baseball to other sports, for which shows of emotion are more accepted.

"If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I'm going to go, 'Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time,'" Harper said. "That's what makes the game fun. … 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."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.