Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 7/11/12

The more we see of Bryce Harper in the majors, the more we get the impression he is not such a bad kid after all. Whether you agree with the way he carries himself or not, you’d be lying if you said he doesn’t play the game the right way. And as for carrying himself, the 19-year-old has done a better job of that since joining the Nationals as well.

One of the biggest criticisms of Harper is that he is too cocky and arrogant. The young superstar told USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale that he understands why people might think that, but he acts that way out of necessity.

“I think that I do maybe come off a little arrogant at times,” Harper says. “But you have to play with a chip on your shoulder. You have to play with that fire and passion.”

Harper insists that he was provoked when he infamously blew a kiss to an opposing pitcher after homering in the minors. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo admits that Harper is cocky and has an ego, but says he has no malicious intent with the things he does. For example, many people blasted Harper for being immature when he smashed a bat in he dugout and gave himself a cut over his eye that needed 10 stitches. Had he simply thrown a water cooler across the dugout like a lot of players would have done, he may not have been injured. Instead, Harper says he wanted to go into the tunnel where kids sitting near the dugout couldn’t see him.

“Look, I don’t want anybody to hear me cussing, or little kids sitting next to the dugout and me dropping f-bombs,” he explained. “Of course you get mad, and frustrated, but when you blow up, you want to go up in the clubhouse rather than doing it out there where everybody can hear you.”

On some level, that actually makes sense. The bottom line is there are much worse role models kids could have. Harper may wear his eye black a bit strangely and style his hair like a clown, but at the end of the day he’s still a teenager. He stays out of trouble and focuses on baseball. What more can you ask for?

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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