It has been just over two months since Bryce Harper signed a historic 13-year deal with the Phillies. Harper put pen to paper with full intention of staying in Philadelphia for the better part of his professional career. He received $330 million to play right field for the Phillies, however his signing in Philadelphia means a lot more than that.
The Phillies brought in an abundance of talent to boost their lineup. Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen and J.T. Realmuto are new members of the Phillies looking to make an impact. The signing of Harper was the home run of the off season. On the day that Harper signed, the Phillies sold 100,000 tickets. They totaled 80,000 the following day. This was 200,000 more tickets sold than at any point last season. This is more than just a baseball player deciding where to play a kid’s game, this is a social phenomenon.
There will be pressure. The 2015 NL MVP has battled some injury problems in his career. He has hit over .300 just twice in his career while eclipsing the 30 home run mark also just twice. Harper has been known to strike out and leads the National League in that category so far this season. He is batting .250 with six home runs and 20 RBI’s in 28 games. A video went viral of Philadelphia fans boo’ing Harper after he struck out twice in his first game at Citizens’ Bank Park. The question over the next 13 years will be, was Harper worth it?
Short answer, yes he was.
It is hard to justify any professional athlete making a third of a billion dollars to play a game, but if the money is there, it should go to the best. Harper is more than a baseball player, he is a brand. Making his Major League debut at 19, Harper was pegged as the young, hot-head who wore his emotions on his sleeve. Umpires did not like him, but fans sure did. He quickly burst onto the scene as one of the top players in the game and it made him a villain in opposing ballparks.
Harper received a shower of boo’s when he would go on the road, especially in ballparks of division rivals. Is it a coincidence that he ended up in Philly? It might be, however there seems like no better pairing. Whether it is baseball, basketball or football, Philadelphia fans are viewed as the villains. If a poll was taken on who the worst fans in sports are, Philly would be at the top starting with the Eagles. There is something poetic about Harper waiting to make his decision, upsetting a lot of people and then ultimately ending up with the Phillies.
Ultimately, the Phillies got their guy. They have a player who will keep the stadium filled and produce for a long time. This was plan A for Philly, and it seems like a match made in heaven.
Greg Patuto / Contributor
Philly Drinkers LLC