Is Bryce Harper Baseball’s Wayne Rooney?

One more thing. I had a nightmare recently that I can’t shake.

Look at this goofy picture of Bryce Harper.

Now look at this photo of Wayne Rooney.

Harper needs no introduction for readers of this blog. Wayne Rooney, on the other hand, may be less familiar to baseball fans. I’ll give you the short version: He broke out into the English Premier League–the biggest of the big-money European soccer leagues–as a 17-year-old goal-scoring phenomenon. He played several seasons for Everton F.C., a fine club, but overshadowed by richer rivals like Manchester United and Liverpool, F.C. (the Yankees and Red Sox of English football, if you like). At 20, Rooney joined Manchester United, and proceeded to astonish the soccer world with his goal-scoring prowess.

Okay, you’re saying, if Harper turns out like Rooney, then the Nats have a real treasure on their hands! Sure. But the sporting world has come to expect two things out of Rooney: sublime talent and vile thuggery–the latter the product of a violent temper. Rooney is, in my opinion, one of the dirtiest players in the world.

In my deepest nightmares, I see Bryce Harper as a baseball Wayne Rooney: crushing home runs like Rooney scores goals–and starting needless fights like, well, Rooney starts fights needlessly.

OK, maybe it’s just a nightmare, after all.

Tuning In

Over the off-season, ;Fangraphs polled their readership about the MLB TV broadcast teams. Readers were asked to rank broadcasters on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being best) for their charisma, the quality of their analysis, and their impression of the broadcast overall. They’ve been releasing the results this week, and the Nats’ MASN TV crew of Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo ranked 23rd out of 31 broadcast teams. Frankly, that’s a lot better than I thought they would rank.

I would be a bad Nats fan if I did not also point out with glee that Bob & F.P. rank above both the Braves (27) and Phillies (26) broadcast teams. Atlanta and Philadelphia fans may have watched their teams win more ballgames than Nats fans did–but their broadcasters sure didn’t make it any more enjoyable for them.

F.P., in particular, is singled out for praise in the comments as a thoughtful color commentator. Speaking for myself, I’ve actually grown to like F.P. It’s tough for me not to like a guy who is still–still–so obviously excited to be paid to watch baseball games. Sure, he may sound a bit Scrappy-doo at times. But watching a few MASN Classics “assisted” by the grunting and grumbling of Rob Dibble made me realize just how bad the Carpenter/Dibble team was.

Of course, Fangraphs didn’t rate the radio broadcast teams. I can’t wait until Charlie Slowes and Dave Jaegler get back from the Great Silence and fill the airwaves around Washington with the sounds of Nats baseball again. As the D.C. Sports Bog put it recently:

Slowes, if you think about it, is one of the very few public figures associated with the Nationals remaining from their first season in Washington. The team has changed its ownership, front office and manager, hired new television broadcasters, introduced new mascots, and turned over its roster entirely, but Slowes has remained.

Dave Jaegler, of course, joined Charlie in the booth in 2006–Ryan Zimmerman’s first full season with the ballclub. Given that the Nats just signed Zimmerman to a long-term contract extension, isn’t it time the Nationals gave Charlie & Dave the same contract extension, too? It would seem strange to me to hear of the Z-man’s latest exploits from any other voices.

The return of regular broadcast baseball will finally will mean that their so-called Flagship radio broadcaster (to whom I will not link) will be compelled to broadcast some baseball-related coverage, instead of endless discussions of the NFL Draft Scouting Combine.

Wilson Ramos’s Tattoo: A Quick Exegesis

OK, so this has nothing to do with baseball, but I figure it’s interesting and vaguely related to the Nationals. There’s an awful lot fuss being made about Wilson Ramos’s new tattoo, which apparently is the text of Philippians 4:13, and the amusingly loose translation of that verse that the Nats press corps has been slinging around. Here’s Mark Zuckerman:

Wilson Ramos arrived for spring training with a new tattoo emblazoned on his left forearm. It includes a flock of doves and a biblical quote in Spanish, which translated reads: “I put everything in Jesus, because he’s got my back.”

Adam Kilgore was careful to attribute the translation to Ramos:

The tattoo is a Bible verse in Spanish, Philippians 4:13, that Ramos translated as, “I put everything in Jesus, because he has my back.”

Naturally, that got Scripturally-minded Nats fans riled up–there are a lot of ways to read and translate a Bible verse, after all! Most Spanish translations render the verse as it’s written on Ramos’s arm: Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece. That is, “I can do everything in Christ, who gives me strength.” (and indeed, the verse is so rendered into English in the New International Version– “I can do all things through him [Christ] who gives me strength.”

But one of the perils of translation is that each translation adds overtones and false cognates that makes for tricky reading. Take the Spanish verb fortalezar–sure, it means “to give strength,” but is also used to mean “to fortify” in military contexts (a fortress is a fortaleza, for instance). That adds a martial undertone to the verse that might not really be warranted. In the original Greek, the verse is πάντα ἰσχύω ἐν τῷ ἐνδυναμοῦντί με. My Greek is pretty bad, but the second half (ἐν τῷ ἐνδυναμοῦντί με) doesn’t carry the same “fortify” sense–it’s more like “in Him who increases my strength.” Saint Jerome rendered it into Latin as omnia possum in eo qui me confortat: “I can do all things in Him who increases my courage,” a slightly different shade of meaning again.

So no, Nats town: this is not really a verse about a vengeful Jesus watching Wilson Ramos’s back–but it is a nice look at how Wilson Ramos seems to be looking at his life after the kidnapping. Whatever he does this season, for Ramos, it’s going to be the best season ever. As Kilgore quotes Ramos: “I feel like I’m living again…I’ve got a new life.”