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A first look at the old Vet Stadium Liberty Bell now outside of Citizens Bank Park

A first look at the old Vet Stadium Liberty Bell now outside of Citizens Bank Park

It was 15 years ago today that Veterans Stadium went crumbling to the ground. But a piece of Vet Stadium history has risen from the ashes for a second life at Citizens Bank Park.

The giant 19-foot Liberty Bell that stood high atop Vet Stadium has been refurbished from storage and placed near the Pattison Avenue and 11th street entrance of the ballpark, next to the new Pass and Stow area that will feature a beer garden and some great new food options. The Pass and Stow name is in homage to John Pass and John Stow who re-cast the original Liberty Bell in 1753. Their names can be found on the original, slightly more famous bell with a crack in it across from Independence Hall.

With opening day just a week away, fans passing the ballpark on Thursday got their first glimpse of the bell’s new placement. The bell was installed today.

It’s hard to miss and will surely make a nice new photo opportunity for Phillies fans and out-of-towners looking to capture a memory.

The bell you see today was actually the "second and final bell that was displayed at Veterans Stadium," according to the Phillies. It was installed on the Vet's catwalk prior to the 1983 season and remained there before being removed prior to the Vet's implosion in 2004. It is made of steel and aluminum, weighs more than 5,000 pounds and contains over 300 light bulbs.

The new (old) bell outside the ballpark will make a nice complement to the bell inside the park that lights up and rings whenever a Phillies player hits a home run. In a nice twist, this season the Phillies' team Twitter hashtag will be #RingTheBell. Brett Brown likely approves.

As you can see from the short video of the bell above, the weather in South Philly today was wet and dreary. The forecast for opening day next Thursday when the Phils host the Atlanta Braves is much better, with no rain currently in the forecast and highs in the upper-50s. Not exactly hittin’ weather, but not bad for the first day of baseball either.

We can't wait.

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Here's a look at the Vet going down 15 years ago today. Miss that dirty old place.

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Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

Bryce Harper meets some Philly sports legends at the Sixers game

The new big man in town, Bryce Harper, went to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night to take in the Sixers game against the Milwaukee Bucks. He rubbed shoulders with some of the previous biggest (little) men in town.

Harper was in attendance and rang the bell prior to tip-off — something he'll surely do many times during Phillies games across the street this summer.

When Harper made his way to his seat in a suite, he was seated alongside Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. Rhys Hoskins was also in the suite as were all of the aforementioned players' significant others. Talk about some serious Philly sports firepower right there.

And then later in the game, the Sixers shared an image of a couple of legendary No. 3s meeting in the bowels of the Center. I'd love to hear the conversation between Allen Iverson and Harper.

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was also in the building, sitting a bit closer to the court. Rapper Meek Mill was also in the building and took a photo with A.I. Which got me wondering: What's the perfect storm of Philly sports stardom in a Rat Pack sort of way? Obviously you had Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid on the court last night. In terms of the Flyers, aside from Gritty, you'd have to go Claude Giroux or maybe a fun-loving guy like Scott Hartnell from years past? Recently retired players that could fit the bill from other teams would have to include Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and maybe Pat Burrell just for fun. Is anyone in recent Eagles memory a bigger name than Brian Dawkins? He'd fill the fedora quotient. Nick Foles could be fun in a clean and wholesome sort of way.

My Philly sports Rat Pack would consist of A.I., Simmons, Embiid, Kendall Jenner, Wentz, Jason Kelce and Gritty. We got a good portion of that in the building last night.

Who is in your Philly sports Rat Pack?

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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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