Bryce Harper

Phillies' Bryce Harper: MLB not playing in Olympics 'is such a travesty'

Phillies' Bryce Harper: MLB not playing in Olympics 'is such a travesty'

Bryce Harper is ready to rock the red, white and blue on a baseball diamond.

No, we're not talking about him donning his customary Phillies jersey.

In an interview on the Starting 9 podcast, Harper delivered a passionate address vouching for MLB to allow players to participate in the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

"It is such a travesty to me," Harper said. "The 2020 Olympics, in Japan. And you're not sending big league guys? Are you kidding me? You want to grow the game as much as possible and you're not going to let us play in the Olympics because you don't want to cut out on money for a two-week period? Okay, that's dumb."

Baseball was an official Olympic sport from 1992-2008 and was set to return for the 2020 games in Tokyo. However, big leaguers have been barred from participating due to the games taking place in the heart of a typical MLB season.

The NHL finds itself in a similar situation every four years when the Winter Olympics roll around in February. They allowed their players to play in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 before bowing out of the 2018 games, an unpopular decision from the players' standpoints.

Even with Olympic participation, the NHL teams played full 82-game schedules in each of those Olympic seasons. MLB would likely have to alter its schedule somehow to accommodate Olympic participation.

Starting or ending the season sooner would present logistical nightmares due to potential weather postponements. Scaling back from 162 games every four years would mean revenue losses.

Still, with the Tokyo games postponed until Summer 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and MLB's desire to expand global interest in baseball, Harper believes now is the time for the league to change its stance.

"[MLB has] to do the Olympics every four years," he said. "You want to grow the game, you wanna really take it to different countries and different places? You put baseball back into the Olympics but let the big league players play.

"Can you imagine being in a foreign country, standing on the line listening to your anthem blare? There is nothing better, it fires me up sitting here."

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Bryce Harper doesn't want Phillies to trade top prospect for Kris Bryant

Bryce Harper doesn't want Phillies to trade top prospect for Kris Bryant

Cubs fans are probably relieved the front office didn't deal away fan-favorite superstar Kris Bryant over the winter.

Bryant's buddy Bryce Harper is happy, too — but not for the reason you might think. He's happy his team didn't give up the farm to get his fellow Las Vegas native.

In an interview with Barstool Sports,  Harper rehashed his entire free agent process following the 2018 season and talked about what he was looking for in his new team. And it was during that explanation that he brought up Bryant.

“I wanted a team that was going to (try to win). And they were going to invest and go out and get the guys they needed to, but be smart, as well. You’ve got to understand, you can’t just trade (for) a star player and kill all your prospects,“ Harper said. “I don’t want to trade (Phillies prospect) Spencer Howard because we want two years of Kris Bryant.

“I love Kris. Kris is one of my best friends. He’s a great hitter. But if we can’t extend Kris after we traded Spencer Howard, then what would be the point?”

For someone who signed up to spend 13 seasons in Philadelphia, it's a logical argument. But even two seasons of a talent like Bryant could do a lot for a Phillies team with the roster to at least compete for a World Series, even if it resides in the loaded NL East.

Bryant's name was the subject of many trade rumors over the winter with the idea being that the Cubs could potentially acquire a haul of controllable, long-term pieces for one of the best hitters in the game. And the Phillies were mentioned as a potential destination, along with several of the other third basemen available via trade or free agency.

Who knows if there ever was a proposal that involved Howard coming to the North Side. Howard's one of the top-ranked prospects in baseball, at No. 34 overall on MLB Pipeline's top 100 list. The right-hander pitched at High A and Double-A last season, posting a 2.03 ERA in his 15 minor league starts.

Harper's not the Phillies' general manager, but it sounds like he's adamant about keeping the Phillies competitive for as long as possible, even in favor of playing with his buddy Bryant for a couple of seasons.

Perhaps these comments are as good an example as any of the difficulty of dealing Bryant in the final seasons of his current contract.

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Bryce Harper could have been traded to a White Sox division rival in 2018

Bryce Harper could have been traded to a White Sox division rival in 2018

The White Sox tried to bring Bryce Harper to the South Side via free agency following the 2018 season.

But before he even reached free agency, he almost ended up in the AL Central with a White Sox division rival.

Now in the middle of the 13-year contract he signed with the Phillies, Harper revealed that there was talk of him being traded away from the Nationals in the summer of 2018. The Nationals were struggling to stay in the playoff race around the trade deadline, and apparently there was discussion about potentially sending him to the Indians in a trade that summer.

In an interview with Barstool Sports, Harper listed the Indians alongside a couple other American League squads — the Athletics and the Astros — that might have acquired him for the final few months of his deal before he headed to free agency the following winter.

RELATED: Bryce Harper raves about 2018 meeting with White Sox during MLB free agency

Of course, Harper’s presence wouldn’t have brought anything more than maybe a few more homers to the White Sox-Indians rivalry. The South Siders were on their way to 100 losses in 2018, not a factor in that year's AL Central race, which the Indians ended up winning without Harper’s services.

The White Sox faced the Indians nine times following the trade deadline that season, going 3-6 in those games. Undoubtedly the presence of Harper, one of the game’s biggest names, would have at least made those contests more interesting.

What stung South Side fans more was when Harper met with the White Sox — a meeting he raved about in the same interview — but ended up in Philly the following offseason. Teaming Harper with Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert in the outfield for years to come would have been something.

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