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Harris clarifies Harper-Robinson comparison

Jul 27, 2011, 1:24 AM EDT

Nationals director of player development Doug Harris issued a statement Tuesday evening clarifying remarks he made in a Sports Illustrated article about Bryce Harper in which he compared the scrutiny the 18-year-old phenom is facing to the pressure Jackie Robinson faced after breaking baseball’s color barrier.

In the SI article written by Tom Verducci, Harris was asked about the scrutiny Harper has faced in his first professional season, one that has seen the young outfielder criticized for every move he makes on and off the field.

“This is really unfair and it’s totally different, but if I can make a comparison to one guy that has been scrutinized like this, it would be Jackie Robinson,” Harris said in the article. “And it’s unfair because it was a different standard. He was under a microscope in an era when we didn’t have Internet, didn’t have cellphones.

“Now, Jackie Robinson had his life threatened. I’m not comparing Bryce to that. But as far as nonstop scrutiny? Absolutely. Day to day.”

The release of the article Tuesday sparked heavy criticism of Harris’ comparison, prompting the head of the Nationals’ farm system to issue
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  1. Anonymous - Jul 27, 2011 at 3:08 AM

    Granted, it's probably wiser not to make any analogies to Jackie Robinson precisely to avoid this hubbub, but I read Harris's comments to explicitly recognize the important differences and the incomparably greater significance of Robinson's rise to the majors. What's the story here or is this just grist for the insatiable 24 hour media? Seriously, why is this an issue?

  2. natsfan1a - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    What Anon said. It was an unfortunate choice of analogy. Harris could have used, say, Roger Maris, and avoided controversy. That said, I take away the same impression regarding his comments, that he was not by any means downplaying what Robinson endured.On another note, I do think that the Internet and 24/7 media coverage have an impact on how information is disseminated and on reactions to it. imho, that's true not only for controversies but also for hype (see Stephen Strasburg). Back in my day, we waited for the daggone carrier pigeons and we were darn glad to have them, you whippersnappers!

  3. natsfan1a - Jul 27, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    I suppose that the hype part applies to Harper as well, as the other side of the "cocky" meme.

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