This Bryce Harper Thing is About More Than Baseball Now

PHOTO CREDIT: GEOFF BURKE-USA TODAY SPORTS

Imagine, if you will, Bryce Harper signs with one of the 29 Major League Baseball teams that is not the Philadelphia Phillies. Let that idea enter an orifice of your choosing and marinate for a minute.

You get the text, or see the tweet. You process it. After all of this:

“He’s going to San Francisco!”

“Magic Johnson got us again!”

“All of THIS, just to go back to Washington!”

This scenario feels like the sum of all fears after months of wishing, waiting, and furiously searching social media for even the slightest clues throughout #Harperwatch. Plane tracking, Jon Heyman, Bob Nightengale, more Jon Heyman, and you remember, of course, “Hey, what about Manny Machado?”

This repertoire has become part of my daily routine, like showering, brushing my teeth, or contemplating the general meaninglessness of my daily existence. And with that, it now feels like this whole thing is no longer just about baseball.

Consider the following:

Is adding Harper the difference between falling short of the postseason for an eighth consecutive season and meaningful October baseball? Maybe.

Would his career .900 OPS and consistent 40 home run potential greatly help this team? A decisive “hell yeah” is the correct answer, but here is the more important question – is dropping a decade-long deal worth well north of $300 million the only way for the Phillies to get to where they want to go? You know the answer, temporarily unfulfilling as it may be.

I wrote the following about the decision facing John Middleton and his front office just a little less than two weeks ago:

Why gingerly tread with apprehension along an alternate path when you can, quite literally, parade right down Broad Street like the god damn rock stars you would become by signing one of these guys?

Of course, “these guys” included Machado, who has since signed with San Diego, leaving Harper as the guy. And while I still feel this way, I also feel myself become increasingly aware that this isn’t a do or die scenario for the Phillies that I, like many others, have made it out to be. It just feels that way.

Why? Because for many, this has now become about the chase. Simply winning the contest after months of wrangling with internal strife has superseded the actual worth of the end game, because the hype and expectations have swelled beyond the actual impact of the prize. And that’s not meant as a knock on Harper because the guy straight rakes, but for many fans here, it’s become clear this is now about validation that Philadelphia can land the superstar. Not draft one or trade for one. Sign one. That a guy of Harper’s stature could possibly be wooed by several front offices, but in the end say that he wants to do it here.

That desire is interesting and it shouldn’t be overlooked. If the Phillies hold up their end of the deal and make the strongest offer, Harper’s decision is going to come down to whether or not he wants to spend the rest of his career playing for fans that care so much that they take things, things like his own free agency process, personally.

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22 Responses

  1. “Neither of these guys [Machado or Harper] want to have to spend ten years in Philadelphia.”

    Turns out that was a true statement

    1. Aren’t you that lizard lot tranny that gets passed around the New Smithville truck stop? The one nicknamed ‘sandpaper’ because of your tongue? I hear good things otherwise…

  2. This has gotten personal. Signing Harper became about civic pride more than the missing piece. Do I think he can hit 40 HR’s here? Yes. Would I like to be able to watch him swing from the heels4 Times a night?Yes He’s a really good and very entertaining player, but he’s not a great player. I had my heart set on it but fuck it. Let’s talk to Boras about Keuchel and improve the starting pitching.

    1. Stop with this keuchel nonsense. He’s garbage and on the decline. He’s simply not good and you would be drastically overpaying for him.

  3. I agree with Buster Olney. Set a deadline. If he does t dig by the deadline, pull the offer and move on. Keuchel and Kimbrel would’ve better.

  4. this article sucks…

    The owner literally said “stupid money”

    That is why they have to win, or it fails on the promise made to thier fans…

    None of these terds in front of the office–have any balls to acctually put thier money where their mouth is.

    People are like 30 mil a year is alot of money for an everyday player, but Kershaw, Grienke those guys can make 34 and play every fifth day..
    Do some research

  5. It’s so obvious that he never wanted to play here, and I’m guessing Machado didn’t either.

    Who would choose Philly over California when you just set up your family financially for multiple generations? I love Philly because I’m from here, but it’s objectively a shittier place to live than the west coast, it just is.

    Once it became clear that Philly was the only team willing to go long-term, they decided to consider short-term deals to bring LA, SF, and whoever else back into the fold. They’ll now bid against each other and he’ll end up with 3 years at $100+ million. And he can do this all over again in 3 years after Trout’s next contract pushes baseball salaries even further into the realm of absurdity.

    Nola better put one in his ear the first time he comes to CBP.

    1. I agree with most of what you are saying but it does have to be pointed out that the taxes in CA are way worse than playing in PA and while it makes sense that Trout’s next contract will set the bar even higher for salaries, will it? There could be a lock-out. The tv $ bubble could burst. Harper is injury prone (missed 40+ games in 3 of his 7 big league seasons). There is definitely a very real reason financially to take this deal from Philly. A short term deal in a high tax state on the verge of a lock-out while being an injury plagued player is a questionable decision when he can guarantee himself 330(?) million dollars today by simply signing his name on the dotted line.

  6. It would appear the player is hoping some team will make an offer so he doesn’t have to play for Phillies. Does the owner want that player around a team that wants to be here?

  7. The Phillies shouldn’t expect the casual fan to be fired up about next season if they don’t get Harper. Middleton is the guy that was out there talking about spending stupid money and basically doing whatever it takes to win not the fans. He is the one that put the bulls-eye on the team. Without Harper no they did not spend stupid money and I feel like the team as constituted while improved is not one of the top 6 teams in the NL. Basically they will have raised the fans hopes through the roof and then disappointed them.

  8. Your post is not over the top, but a lot of fans make it seem like the Phillies should just give Scott Boras a blank check and let him fill it out for whatever amount he wants. Remember, Harper, while a great player is only the 14th or 15th best player in MLB. He was worth 1.3 wins above replacement (Arenado ~5, Machado ~4. I like how competitive he is but you can’t keep a player from going where he wants. Also, we as Phillies fans have to realize we’ve created perceptions around professional sports that we’re not easy to please because of “our passion as we call it”. Not every player looks at it as passion. Some look at it as pain in the ass fans

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