by Rick Snider

Bryce Harper doesn’t want to talk about his new contract next season. Why, the Washington Nationals outfielder told reporters he’s out the door if they even ask about his plans for 2018.

Heads must be bowed, lips sealed or Harper will banish the media from his life. That is, until whenever he feels like discussing it. For now, talk of $400 million, $500 million deals by the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs or Los Angeles Dodgers is forbidden around the Nats star slugger.

Where’s the fun in that?

Washingtonians need someone new to chew on and spit out. Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has spent the last two years “appreciating the question” before saying nothing. But, at least he said nothing interesting when talking to the media twice weekly. Harper thinks he’ll get radio silence on his coming deal, despite daily media scrums around his locker. He’s totally naive.

Money is the currency of today’s sports talk. It’s all fans and media need to become the judge and jury of players’ performances. Maybe Harper’s smart not to feed the firestorm, but he’ll be sentenced to a year of cheers and catcalls anyway.

Cousins isn’t worth $34 million to many fans, so goodbye and good luck. It doesn’t matter that fans aren’t paying Cousins. It’s not like beer will be $5 cheaper this fall at FedEx Field because Cousins is gone.

But no matter. Money taints everything in life, and sports is now cheapened by it. It won’t be enough to Harper to hit .300 with 25 homers anymore. His coming gargantuan contract will demand fuzzy stats to justify his salary when who can say what $400 million really buys. It’s one big setup for disappointment, no matter how well Harper plays. And if Harper performs poorly or gets hurt this season, lots of Curly-W supporters will look beyond him for the next great player like they come along every season.

At some point, Harper will talk to a reporter he trusts, seeking to silence the social media storm. Unfortunately, his mentor Jayson Werth won’t be a locker away telling the phenom outfielder not to listen to the wrath of unending twitter trolls.

Harper’s not going to find peace this season. Just ask Cousins.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter @Snide_Remarks.

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