MIAMI — Baseball needs more Bryce Harpers.
One look up and down the All-Star lineup cards reveals a wealth of young talent, but not the superstar power of the past.
We're less than two decades removed from a 1999 All-Star Game at Fenway Park that featured Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Cal Ripken Jr., Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson.
The personalities that came along with their abilities is what made those players larger-than-life. Harper fits that mold, and is blazing a trail that other young players should emulate.
Not only is the polarizing All-Star one of the best players in baseball, he's one of the most engaging. Love him or hate him, you've got an opinion on Harper.
Since the moment he arrived in the majors as a 19-year old, Harper has been unabashedly himself, no matter who's feathers that ruffled. He's been thrown at, suspended and outspoken. Harper wore a "Make Baseball Fun Again" hat and he's succeeding in doing it.
For a sport with the oldest viewing audience of any, heeding the advice from Harper's headwear should be a priority.
Harper has a marketing team and his advertising deals certainly don't hurt, but at its core, that's not why he's so recognizable. It's the way he plays the game and the way he carries himself afterwards.
"I just try to go out there and have as much fun as I can," Harper said. "Enjoy the game. I don't want to change or do anything else or be different from anybody. I just try to go out there and play the game I can and enjoy what I do. Have fun. Smile. Laugh. Not take it too serious. I just try to do the best that I can and I guess that helps me."
While Harper might not try to be different, he is. The outfielder is the perfect storm of talent, personality, marketability, and he plays on the East Coast.
Clayton Kershaw explained how he believes coastal bias affects the superstar perception. Kershaw's unprecedented dominance has made him a household name, but he pointed to his young All-Star teammates Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger as guys that don't get the same attention.
"We've got guys in L.A. that maybe people on the east coast don't get to see because they don't ever watch our games. There's a lot of talent on the west coast that maybe you don't see in New York or some of the big market," Kershaw said. "Seager and Belli, they're such young guys. I know Seag doesn't love to do a lot of the marketing stuff, I don't really know about Belli yet, but we've got two of the top young players in the game.
"Then Mike Trout too, Mike's the best player in the game and he's on the the west coast too," Kershaw continued. "I don't know what we should do (to market them better.)
While there's something to be said for east coast bias, a young Griffey became one of the recognizable most athletes in the country as a Seattle Mariner. Kershaw and San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner, neither of whom are 30, have an already storied rivalry.
Craig Kimbrel has gained notoriety with an unorthodox stare in to the plate and six All Star appearances. The Red Sox closer believes Major League Baseball is doing its part to get their young players out there.
"I think baseball does a pretty good job of marketing younger guys," Kimbrel said. "Obviously you can always say there's more to do, but I think Major League Baseball does a really good job with that."
Kershaw agreed with that notion, but at the end of the day, the league marketing can only push players so far.
"What can you do? I don't know. You can do a bunch of commercials. I feel like they do a pretty good job of promoting their guys," Kershaw said. "Ultimately it's about the individual person."
If more individuals let their personalities shine line Harper, it'd go a long way towards making baseball more fun again.
Mason covers the Boston Red Sox for CNHI Sports Boston. Follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason