What a difference a week makes.
Last Thursday morning the city was ready to burn down Citizens Bank Park with the flaming piles of stupid money John Middleton taunted fans with before free agency. We wanted to see the world burn. Reports were streaming in that Bryce Harper and the Phillies were “far apart” in terms of money and other franchises were swarming into the fray like vultures circling a slowly dying zebra on the Serengeti, waiting to pick the bones clean after the deal died on the arid plains.
But at 3 p.m. Jon Heyman dropped the bomb that changed everything with the Phillies’ future:
Breaking: Bryce to the Phillies
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 28, 2019
For the next 13 years the Phillies, the losingest franchise in ALL of professional sports, would have the services of a top five player for the rest of his career. The franchise suddenly had the BEST offseason it had ever had in its history and arguably the best lineup in baseball. Frazzled Phillies interns were relieved of their fruitless duties of finding obscure advanced stats that would SOMEHOW show fans that J.T. Realmuto was just as valuable Harper.
A week later the Phillies have Harper. And Realmuto. And Segura. And McCutchen.
And a week later they’re the bad boys of baseball. With Harper leading the charge, Middleton is now walking into the Clearwater facility wearing beige khakis three sizes too small, showing off the bulge that proved so many doubters (myself included) that he could never land the big fish he promised all of us for years.
A week later Harper is openly telling the media he’ll be courting the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, to play with the Phillies in 2021. What world are we living in? What wormhole did we slip into to come out to this glorious new reality?
Harper didn’t beat around the bush either. He wasn’t being coy or mysterious. He told reporters, point blank, he would pick up his rotary phone, ask the operator to connect him to Anaheim, and sell Trout on abandoning the Angels to come home to Philadelphia.
He played the role of a bully in an 80s movie to perfection, except this time Harper side-stepped the Angel’s crane kick and blasted them in the face with an overhand right to win the All-Valley Karate Tournament. Harper left the stadium with the kickass trophy, the Angels knocked out on the mat, and Mike Trout at his side.
Wha….what is going on here? Philadelphia is a destination to play baseball? They can actually court top-tier free agents and pay top-tier money, nay, OVERPAY for top-tier free agents? Harper and this suddenly JUICED franchise has whipped its dick out of its pants, slapped it on the table in front of the rest of baseball, and stared at every other owner until they looked away in shame.
It’s marvelous. The Phillies are strutting around like Stone Cold Steve Austin circa 1999, dealing out stunners to the haters and openly thwarting authority with a brashness that just makes them MORE popular. It is not beyond reason to expect Harper to drive a beer truck onto the field against the Braves in the home opener and douse poor head coach Brian Gerald Snitker with gallons of Budweiser to the delight of thousands at Citizens Bank Park.
When Anaheim got wind that Harper was courting their superstar, they sent a STRONGLY WORDED email to Major League Baseball asking them to make Harper stop.
Harper told them to go screw, but in a much nicer way:
Bryce Harper talked today about MLB looking into his comments about Mike Trout. pic.twitter.com/B203gxezu0
— Matt Breen (@matt_breen) March 6, 2019
“If I didn’t mean it, I wouldn’t have said it…They look into everything.”
Translation: “Go fuck yourselves, Major League Baseball. I AM ABOVE THE LAW.”
I am giddy. Is that what it felt like to be a Yankees fan in the late 90s and early 2000s? Loathed by everyone, deep pockets, signing free agents just for the fun of it? A mentally disturbed owner willing to spend more money than anyone else to spite every other team in baseball? I can see why all these fans were so fucking smug, it’s an intoxicating feeling and I want more.
I want Trout in 2021. I want Craig Kimbrel yesterday. I want Dallas Keuchel tomorrow.
Give them to me. Give them ALL TO ME. We have grown accustomed to only the finest things in Philadelphia sports and it must continue.