UPDATE: Doug Harris has issued a statement apologizing for his actions. It follows below the jump.
In the latest installment of Insane Comparisons To Past Legends, here's Tony Tarasco, who has become Bryce Harper's mentor in the minors, comparing the nonstop scrutiny surrounding Harper to Jackie Robinson in this week's Sports Illustrated article by Tom Verducci.
"Jackie Robinson," says Tony Tarasco, a former major leaguer and a Nationals minor league coordinator who has become Harper's player-development Yoda. "You have to go back to Jackie Robinson to find anybody who goes through this much scrutiny. It wasn't like this for [Stephen] Strasburg. Wasn't like this for Alex Rodriguez."
Nationals director of player development Doug Harris made the same comparison, albeit he admitted it was "really unfair" and "totally different." Just so we're clear: yes, it's unfair.
Here's Harper in the same story, talking about the scrutiny he gets.
"Some of the stuff I hear, I can't say," he says. "It's bad stuff. I do hear stuff like 'moneymaker,' 'moneybags.' ... I get 'overrated' a lot-that's just old. It comes with the territory, I guess. I'm not going to let it bother me."
The announcement brought media and fan anticipation to a fever pitch, but the reaction of many major leaguers, including several Dodgers, was less than enthusiastic. A group of Dodger players, led by 1946 MVP runner-up Dixie Walker, threatened to strike if Robinson were allowed to start; their sentiments were echoed by a number of other players, including virtually all of the St. Louis Cardinals team.
Totally similar, right?
Truth be told, I sort of get the point they were trying to make. It just could have been made without referring to the man who broke baseball's color barrier.
(via Cindy Boren)
Here is Harris' statement:
"In talking to Tom, my sole intent was to speak to the scrutiny that Harper faces on a daily basis," Harris said. "That said, the hardships that Mr. Robinson endured in/around 1947 were unique and historical in context. While Harper's current situation is extraordinary by most measures, it pales in comparison to the life of Mr. Robinson, nor will it approach the lasting impact. I regret making this ill-fated correlation."