Years ago, in their first contest, Cole Hamels welcomed Harper to the big leagues by throwing a baseball at his spine. We can now point to this as the moment Harper’s relationship with the Phillies began. After today, we apparently know how it will continue.
Bryce Harper is just a man. A 26-year-old man who is a former NL MVP, a six-time all-star in seven years, who will likely hit his 200th career home run in 2019. He is a man the Phillies have watched bash their pitching since his debut in 2012, slashing .271/.378/.519 against them in that time and hitting the most home runs in their park than he has hit anywhere else outside Washington, D.C.
Somewhere along the line, he made himself rather appealing to them. Maybe it was the elite talent. Maybe it was the contact, power, and clutch hitting. Last year, it was probably the walks (130), knowing the Phillies front office. Ask around Philadelphia, and you’ll find a cross section of warped minds discussing how he hustles too much or not enough, he only came here for the money (duh), or this is the place he’s loved playing in his whole career. You won’t have to wait long for commentary from members of the media with onions rings mashed into the keyboards of their phones.
But that doesn’t matter now. What matters is, he’s reportedly a member of the Phillies, signed to a reported 13-year contract for $330 million. The long, cold, probably not as long as it felt free agency period in which the Phillies and White Sox, as well as most of the NL West, vied for his affection has finally ended, and Harper has made some long term plans.
Who is most responsible for this? The Phillies’ front office, working in infuriating silence behind the scenes to put this mammoth deal together? Bryce Harper, for finally accepting the offer after musing over his very clear options in his hideaway in the Nevada desert for six months? Our tough and strong local media members, for dad-shaming their non-son into finally proving he loves baseball more than money, or something? Us, the fans, for staring out window, demanding that he end this process and show he does not hate Philadelphia like everyone, except Bryce Harper, said Bryce Harper did?
Who’s to say? But this isn’t about credit. It’s about what’s happening in front of our faces. This off-season’s glacial pace has been broken up solely by the melting of our own minds.
Harper will bring the productive bat the Phillies have missed for the last couple of seasons and presumably knock in a few of their runners. More will come in the next few days, or hours, but for now, bask in the glory of the Phillies signing a superstar. Or, hate it because it took too long.
It doesn’t matter.
It’s (reportedly) over.