DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And now we go from minor league baseball to the majors. And you won't need advanced stats to know that two 20-somethings are just tearing apart the big leagues. Here's commentator Frank Deford.
FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: Because college football and basketball are so prominent, when the best players move up to the pros they're already well known. However, baseball's different. How many of you pretty good sports fans can tell me who won the Baseball College World Series just a few weeks ago? Same with the players. Even the stars drafted highest are anonymous except to the real cognoscenti. And even then, whereas invariably the can't-miss prospects in other sports hardly ever miss, in baseball virtually nobody ever says can't miss.
The fact is the ones who miss too often are the scouts. In 2009, for example, a big self-effacing kid in New Jersey - in Jersey for heaven's sake - within easy Amtrak distance of six major league franchises - this outfielder lasted until the cross-country Angels took him with the 25th pick.
Who's he? Well, his name - what a great headline name - is Mike Trout. And most everybody says that even before he turns 24, the day after tomorrow, he's already the best in the game. Power and speed both, the sugar and spice of baseball - everything nice. American league MVP last year - and if I started on Trout's statistics now, we wouldn't have time for words, just numbers. It's not even unusual to hear old, doubting Thomases say that Mike Trout may become the greatest ever. He's called simply God's gift.
Ah, but there has been one exception to the usual what's-his-name baseball babies, a cocky kid from - where else - Vegas, who made the cover of Sports Illustrated when he was 16, called the LeBron James of baseball and declaring himself that his goal was, oh, merely to be the best player ever. His name is Bryce Harper, and the Washington Nationals drafted him first and hey, Harper was can't-miss in the majors as a teenager. He's Pete Rose in Mike Trout's body.
Most famously he put down a reporter, sassing, that's a clown question, bro, a comeback so dandy that Senator Harry Reid borrowed it when he was majority leader. But Harper plays as brazenly as he talks and has a habit of running full speed into outfield walls. He's been seriously injured twice, allowing Trout to be the one that God has tied the Tiffany ribbon around.
But this season, still only 22, Harper's back healthy, dominating the national league, challenging Trout. In fact, we may have to go back to the 1930s when Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams came up to the majors as kids to see when the sport put up such two young competing Lochinvars with such wonderfully different personalities. Who knows? Maybe we can even ask if one of them might end up the greatest ever. And that's no clown question, bro.
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