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Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

Nationals fans don’t get to be mad at Bryce Harper

They can boo him. They can even hate him. But there’s absolutely no way Washington Nationals fans can fault Bryce Harper.

Sportswriters instructed Nats fans not to show up to the stadium unless they plan to boo Harper. Metro TV personalities smashed a pinata with the six-time All-Star’s photograph. Fans destroyed their No. 34 jerseys and showed up to the ballpark with signs that read “traitor.” The mayor of Washington D.C. took to social media to compare a baseball player to Benedict Arnold.

And yet, on Monday it was revealed in The Washington Post that the Nationals didn't just offer Harper less money and fewer years than the Phillies. The structure of the 10-year, $300 million contract proposed in September would’ve deferred payment on $100 million – 33 percent of the total value – until 2052. Then, in January, the club followed up with an even worse deal: 12 years, $250 million that wouldn’t be fully paid until the year 2072.

Harper would be 79 in 2072, assuming he lived that long.

There’s loyalty and hometown discounts. Then there’s situations that just don’t make sense.

Now seems like a good time to point out the Nationals are owned by Ted Lerner, whose own net worth is estimated to be in the multi billions. The team has done pretty well for itself at the gate, finishing 11th in Major League Baseball in average attendance in 2018 despite some of the highest ticket prices in the game. And while the TV contract is in dispute, the organization will eventually claim hundreds of millions of dollars in right fees dating back to 2012.

The money was there. Even without Harper, the Nationals have the seventh-largest payroll in baseball this season – never mind management’s inability to construct a winning team with that checkbook.

Why is this coming back on the player?

It’s one thing for fans to suggest a professional athlete should consider taking less money. It’s quite another to argue the athlete should sign a contract where a sizable portion of the cash might be paid when he’s living in a nursing home.

On some level, this is all reminiscent of when Jayson Werth pulled a reverse-Harper and left the Phillies to sign with the NL East rival Nationals in in 2011. The Phillies chose to allocate finances in such a way the club decided it would only retain Werth for below-market value, so he left. Fans weren’t happy, and he was booed every time he came to town.

But Werth wasn’t a generational talent. He was a cog, people ultimately understood he got a better deal, plus letting him go meant the Phillies could re-sign Cliff Lee, for example.

The Nationals let the face of baseball leave D.C. without a serious offer, and all they got was the money to sign Patrick Corbin.

Hey, it happens, and Nats fans should boo Harper for all 13 years in red pinstripes, the same as any Philly fan would in their shoes.

Just don’t cry Harper is a traitor. He’s in a Phils uniform because the Nationals screwed up, and the only place fingers need to be pointed is directly at the front office.

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Phillies crush Nationals with epic Ariana Grande clapback in Twitter beef over Bryce Harper

Phillies crush Nationals with epic Ariana Grande clapback in Twitter beef over Bryce Harper

The Phillies took on the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night in Bryce Harper's first game in D.C. as a member of the visiting team.

It proved to be an epic battle between the two clubs ... on Twitter.

Things started out promising for the Nationals' account when Harper struck out in his first at-bat against Max Scherzer.

Baseball Twitter was loving it. And, admittedly from a Philly angle, it was a solid tweet.

For the pop culture newbies, the Nationals' tweet was referencing the song "thank u, next" by Ariana Grande, which Wikipedia will tell you should be stylized in all lowercase. It's a breakup song. Because Harper broke up with the Nationals, in a sense, when he turned down their less-than-impressive offer in favor of a much more lucrative deal from the Phillies. We'll come back to this jam in a second.

The Nationals later followed up the Ariana Grande tweet by referencing the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Philadelphia's own Will Smith.

Again, pretty solid tweeting there from the Nationals' social media people. But there was plenty of ballgame to be played at the time of that tweet.

Harper came back to bite them. As did the Phillies' social media team in a big way.

After a big top of the sixth inning in which Harper hit an RBI single and the Phillies took a 6-0 lead, Harper trotted out to right field, where he greeted the hundreds of Phillies fans who made the trip down to D.C. to take over a portion of the outfield near him. Harper did a bow and fist pump in their direction similar to the move he did at Citizens Bank Park on opening day.

The Phillies' social media team GIF'd the moment, went a bit further down Ariana Grande's lyrics page, hit send and waited for the RTs to roll in.

The fun didn't end there, though, as Harper absolutely crushed a baseball in the eighth inning to light a proverbial match to whatever was left of Phillies and Nats' Twitter at that point. The bat flip was extra spicy. It was Harper's third home run of the season.

Ballgame.

It's always nice to come out on top, as the Phillies did on social media and on the field on Tuesday night. And shoutout to the resurgent @Phillies social team; they've upped their game in step with their new on-field lineup this season.

The Phillies defeated the Nationals by a final of 8-2 on Tuesday. The Phillies remain undefeated on the season at 4-0.

Nationals fans, for their part, hit the road early last night, as seen below.

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Bryce Harper shares emotional message thanking D.C. prior to return with Phillies

Bryce Harper shares emotional message thanking D.C. prior to return with Phillies

Bryce Harper will make his return to Washington, D.C., as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies and will play against his former Nationals teammates for the first time this evening.

It's safe to say many in D.C. are still bitter that Harper opted for more money with none of it deferred to play in a city just up the road. D.C.'s Mayor posted, and then deleted, a social post calling Harper a traitor. Countless fans have altered their old Harper jerseys. Some have even changed their dog's names.

And the reception today when Harper takes the field will surely be chilly.

But that doesn't mean Harper won't always have fond memories of his time in D.C. He did win some games there. But really missed that real playoff success.

Harper took to Instagram this morning to share some of his feelings about his departure and his time in D.C.

"If you would have told me 5 years ago I would be walking into Nationals Park as an opposing player, I would’ve told you that you were crazy," Harper begins his Instagram message. "Five years later, I’m doing just that."

"The things that I will miss most are the relationships I gained on a personal level with so many of the Nationals staff and workers around the ballpark. Every day I walked in, I got a smile or shared a laugh with you. I especially want to thank The Lerner Family and Mike Rizzo for the unwavering support they showed me during my tenure in DC," Harper wrote.

"The city of DC was home."

Note the past tense.

He ends by thanking D.C.

You can read the whole message below. And watch Harper and the Phillies take on Max Scherzer and the Nationals this evening.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvwYAn4AFPN/

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