Harper Leaving Is Not “Just Business”

Yesterday, MLB superstar Bryce Harper signed a mega-deal with the Philidelphia Phillies for 13 years/$330 million (Check out MSB writer Austen Adcock’s Article about the signing Here).

It is a common theme in today’s sports: A star player hitting free agency and leaving the team that began their career for a massive contract. Often, this leaves a poor taste in the mouths of fans that so loyally and exuberantly backed said player.

Just look at the bad blood between the New York Islanders fans and Jonathan Tavares. All the while, those who are not emotionally invested often lecture the disgruntled fans for not being more understanding of the player leaving in free agency. “It’s just business!” they say. Most of the time, they have a point- this time it’s different.

Bryce Harper was the face of the Washington Nationals franchise. He was beloved by the fan base who vehemently backed him while other groups of fans booed him and labeled him as “the most over rated player in baseball” (*cough* Phillies fans *cough*).

Harper’s adoration in D.C. grew every time he smacked a homer and held those three fingers up as he rounded third. They cheered when his helmet would fly off as he stretched out a double. Harper was on the path to becoming a D.C. sports icon- until he was not.

Towards the end of the 2018 season, the Nationals offered Harper a 10 year/$300 million contract extension. This would’ve cemented his legacy as the face of the Washington Nationals franchise for at least the next decade.

Harper could have followed in the footsteps of Washington Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin- sticking with his team and trying to bring a championship home. Harper decided he wanted to see just how much money he could get instead. And, hey! The Nats’ offer will always be around to fall back on, right? Not a chance. Rizzo and the Lerners moved on, improving the team elsewhere. So where does he end up signing? The division rival Philadelphia Phillies.

No, this is absolutely not the same as a star player just leaving in free agency. This man was offered a record contract (at the time) by the team that drafted him. He decided he wanted to test free agency. Then he signs with that team’s division rivals. This is not just “sour grapes” about a guy signing elsewhere.

The Nationals is a fan base that feels betrayed by a player who signs with the very team whose fans they used to defend him against. So, Bryce, good riddance- and watch out for those D-batteries when you are slumping.

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Justin Meerman

Part time sports blogger. Full time Maryland/DC Sports Fan.

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