It's been almost 11 months since Bryce Harper misspoke during his introductory press conference with the Phillies, proclaiming his desire to bring a title "back to D.C." The Nationals did just that in 2019 without Harper, and the team's Twitter account fired a jab at him and the Phillies on Thursday afternoon.
The Phillies' Twitter account sent a tweet just after 1 p.m. Thursday with an image of Harper and the simple caption "No. 3," the outfielder's number in Philadelphia. Eight minutes later, the Nationals' Twitter account posted a photo of outfielder Adam Eaton ecstatically holding the World Series trophy and a caption of "No. 1."
It was a subtle shot because the Nationals' tweet wasn't a direct reply to the Phillies' post; but at the same time, a not-so-subtle shot because Eaton's jersey number is No. 2. It's no coincidence that Eaton was the subject of the Nationals' post given that he was the one to step into Harper's right-field spot this season.
While the Nationals made their playoff run to the title, Harper was forced to watch from home as his first season in Philadelphia ended without a postseason berth after he hit for a .260 average with 35 home runs and 114 RBIs.
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High fives? Nope. Dugout dance parties? Not happening. Group hugs? No chance.
If the 2020 MLB season is played this summer, there are going to be extensive protocols in place that could reportedly limit everything from chewing sunflower seeds to showering after games. The game would look a lot different, and perhaps nothing would change more than how players will celebrate together on the field.
NBC Sports Bay Area talked with Oakland A’s outfielder Robbie Grossman last week about how his team might adapt to the health protocols.
“It’s going to be very hard not to celebrate, shake hands, hug each other, and do all the stuff we’re accustomed to doing,” Grossman said. “But it’s just something that we’re going to have to make an adjustment to. This is the new normal. We’ll get creative and come up with something.”
The Nationals in particular were a team that relied on a tight-knit clubhouse and prided themselves on staying relaxed and having fun even when their backs were against the wall. Even with the departure of the fun-loving Gerardo Parra last offseason, Washington was expected to employ that same approach during its quest to repeat in 2020.
Instead, the Nationals will have to find other ways strengthen their relationships over the course of the season. With players such as Eric Thames, Aníbal Sánchez, Juan Soto and Victor Robles on the roster, creativity is to be expected.
There are still many hurdles baseball officials must clear before a season can be played. But if the Nationals do return to field, there’s little doubt they would find a way to celebrate together.
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Juan Soto is just 21 years old and already has his name scattered across the record books.
He’s drawn the most walks ever by a player before turning 21 with 187. He’s the youngest player to put up a .400 on-base percentage in each of his first two seasons. He’s the fourth-youngest to hit a home run in the World Series.
Have we mentioned he’s still only 21?
The hype is only just beginning for the Dominican outfielder, especially since he had the chance to showcase his talents on the national stage last October. So of course, it’s only natural that teammate Trea Turner do what he can to keep his teammate humble.
Even though Soto is considered an up-and-coming slugger and Turner is more known for his speed, the Nationals shortstop has one thing going for him that Soto does not: hitting the Nationals’ longest home run of 2019.