Debunking Washington’s Spin Against Philly and Bryce Harper

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Meet Jonathan V. Last, a writer for the conservative commentary website The Bulwark, who, like many of us, seems to enjoy sharing his sports opinions online.

Among those opinions is a recent condemnation of the fresh marriage between Bryce Harper and the city of Philadelphia. As you may expect from the opinions of an outsider (Edit: Last actually grew up in South Jersey, so he’s just knocking his hometown), they are filled with lazy, tired clichés about the city, along with plenty of jabs at Major League Baseball’s newly highest-paid player. While the stance of one man alone isn’t particularly noteworthy, many of Last’s criticisms seem to be emblematic of the overall view on Harper and the Phillies emanating from Washington in recent days, so I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to parse this ill-conceived rant.

Come for the slander, stay for the Twitter avatar that looks like it was created after someone called the cops to report a gas station robbery. Come with me and let us marvel together at this vapid slander from a former lover scorned as he works through the seven steps of sports…jealousy? Sports…actually, I don’t even know what this is. He’s from South Jersey!  But there are seven steps to it.

Step 1: Angry Overreaction Because The Sports Thing Happened You Didn’t Want To Happen

The worst match. Ever. Not possibly problematic, or potentially combustible. The worst. Period.

Step 2: Belittle and Marginalize the Player’s Talents

Harper has a career .900 OPS. He had 68 extra-base hits and 100 RBI in a down 2018 season.

As for the touchy part, here’s a cool story:

Bryce Harper played at The College of Southern Nevada during what should have been his junior year of high school. He struck out seven times over his first two scrimmages and immediately wondered if the jump was too much, too soon. He got some reassurance after that second scrimmage, made an adjustment, and proceeded to mash two doubles, a triple, and a homer, while driving in seven runs during his third scrimmage. Touchy guys don’t make that jump, and touchy guys wilt when adversity strikes. Touchy guys don’t go on to shatter a prominent JUCO school’s home run record by 19 bombs while winning the conference’s player of the year, again, as a 17-year-old. Philly is about production and Harper produces. I’m sure he can withstand a boo or two from the fans that are currently making his jersey a historic best-seller. By the way, his hair is beautiful.

Step 3: Misleadingly Prop Up An Apathetic Sports Town

Yeah, Redskins fans seem very positive these days. That explains why attendance at FedEx Field was down a league-worst 19% this season, despite the team being in playoff contention for the better part of three months. As for the Nats, a stacked roster littered with stars and a nearly $190 million payroll commitment resulted in Major League Baseball’s 12th-best attendance last season.

Step 4: Take Unsubstantiated Shot at Rival (That You Grew Up In!) City, Make False Claim

No plan is full-proof. If Harper is brutal and the Phillies fizzle over the next decade-plus, yeah, things could go south. Still, it’s hard to see that playing out. Ask yourself which of the following scenarios is more likely:

A. Bryce Harper, a good baseball player, plays well while actively recruiting talent to a team willing to spend. The team wins lots of games, and, possibly, a World Series.

B. Bryce Harper, a good baseball player, plays poorly. The team breaks its promise to Harper about being all in, and, in turn, the Phillies are a perennial loser and the fans direct their collective ire at Harper.

That’s easy. Also, New York? He doesn’t mix with Philly, but is a mesh with New York? Stop it.

Step 5: Completely Lose Touch With Reality

You know, he’s absolutely right. Mike Trout will fit perfectly here in 2021. Completely agree. A simple glance at the math shows that union remains very much a possibility.

Step 6: Tell (The First) Half Of The Story

Reminder here that Harper is a six-time All-Star. He holds a career .938 OPS over 50 career games at Citizens Bank Park. As for last season, it’s worth noting he hit .300 with a .972 OPS over the second half. I’m not too worried about it.

Step 7: Finish Strong and Play the Classics

When it doubt, play the classics, but fun fact here:

Over the last 19 seasons, roughly 50 million people have attended Major League Baseball games in this city without throwing a battery. Then again, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised a person with a political background out of D.C. spun a story to fit a false narrative. And he’s one of us! Come on, man.

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  • No 401k necessary March 4, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    Not now Wanks, we’re still trolling Kyl3 and Kinkee

  • Ghina Man March 4, 2019 at 3:19 pm

    Tim Fooze, Jerry Tom Fooze. Mini skirt, Jerry
    Mini skirt.

  • So Taguchi - Phillies Legend March 4, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Where is this guy coming from?

    Glad we have a spotless history of well-spoken and classy sports media people in this town, like Bill Conlin and Angelo Cataldi.

  • Barry peppers lonely hearts March 4, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    I guarantee kyle has a subscription to that magazine, so he can read fantasy fiction about Mitt Romney, military intervention and the Mueller investigation. Those people are an angry joke

  • MM March 4, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    The Expos, still, suck.

  • Hipster going to opening day in his customized College of Southern Nevada jersey March 4, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Hoping Harper puts out his own beard balm that smells like tobacco and pine tar. I’m in for a case.

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