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The NFL reportedly banked on the Phillies making MLB postseason, and it looks like that backfired

The NFL reportedly banked on the Phillies making MLB postseason, and it looks like that backfired

In a tight NL Wild Card race, the Philadelphia Phillies are on the outside with no view of the inside. Thanks to a 4-1 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday afternoon, the Phillies were officially eliminated from postseason contention.

And based on how the NFL constructed the Philadelphia Eagles' first part of their schedule, where they're on the road for Weeks 5-7, it appears they assumed the Phillies would be in postseason contention.

According to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury, who joined the Nationals Talk podcast, Bryce Harper-mania might have caused the NFL to re-jigger the Eagles schedule.

"If you look at the Philadelphia Eagles schedule, they go on the road the next three weeks and the reason the NFL did that is because of Bryce Harper-mania," Salisbury explained. "They anticipated that the Phillies were gonna be playing October baseball after that Bryce Harper, after that big winter. And they're not, so overall a disappointing season for the Phillies not going to play in October but a good season for Bryce Harper."

MORE: Re-live the grand slam that helped the Nats to the postseason

But Philadelphia hasn't soured on Harper, despite a rocky start.

"Off the field, he's created a buzz. The fans really love him, he's kind of been from a media standpoint great to deal with," Salisbury said. "He does a great job connecting with the fans, you know comes out every night, gives them a big bow, throws balls into the stands into the upper deck. Every kid in Philadelphia wants Bryce Harper to throw them a ball. So I think from a marketing PR standpoint, you know home runs, he's created a buzz about the team."

One way he's created that buzz is because he "roots for the Sixer's, roots for the Eagles," Salisbury noted. Harper is a noted Vegas Golden Knights fan, and rocked a jersey during their Stanley Cup run in 2018 against the Capitals.

Eventually, Bryce wants to be embraced by Philly fans like Allen Iverson, Bobby Clark, and Julius Erving were. But there's only one way to get there.

"Ultimately to be embraced like those guys in this city, like Iverson, he's gotta win," Salisbury stated. 

While his new hometown fans have embraced him, he's angered opposing fans when he steps up to the plate.

"He gets booed in every stadium, he comes to the plate every night to chants of 'over-rated, over-rated,' and I think he gets a little bit of fuel out of that, I don't think it makes him nervous," Salisbury said. 

That fuel might have hampered him early in the season when he was trying to do too much.

"He missed a lot of fastballs early in the season," Sailsbury explained. "I do think there's a difference between being nervous and pressing. Wanting to prove to a new community you're worth $330 million, wanting to put your best foot forward early, make a good showing. Yeah I do think he was trying to do too much too early." 

The Phillies might expect even more from him during the next season after they've flamed out of the Wild Card race.

"I think they need a better season," Salisbury said. "They need more from Bryce Harper, they need more consistency from Realmuto early, they probably could use another bat, they probably could use two starting pitchers and help in the bullpen. There's quite a few holes on this team, but you know I still think ownership is ready to get back out there and mix it up again this winter."

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Carter Kieboom is now focused on keeping his job

Carter Kieboom is now focused on keeping his job

Carter Kieboom was back in a batter’s box Wednesday to face Max Scherzer. He faced him once before, back at spring training in 2017, and struck out. How did it go Wednesday?

“Same outcome,” Kieboom said with a smile.

He’s able to laugh in the moment as the Major League Baseball season resumes. Kieboom is the starting third baseman for the defending World Series champions. Being granted the position is the first step in the 22-year-old’s full-time work in Major League Baseball. He was an injury replacement at shortstop for an 11-game spell last season. This year, he’s mandated with taking over the spot vacated when a 2019 MVP finalist moved on.

In spring training, the third base job was part of a competition between Kieboom and Asdrúbal Cabrera. Martinez gave the job to Kieboom to start “Summer Camp.” When he received the news, Kieboom had a singular thought: “Keep the job.”

RELATED: TREA TURNER CALLS 2020 SEASON A 'FLUID SITUATION'

To do so, all aspects of his game at the major-league level need to improve. That, of course, is a general expectation of anyone entering their first starting position in the big leagues. Kieboom’s small, bumpy, sample size of work from last season will either end up harbinger or outlier. The Nationals suspect it’s the latter.

Primary among his development is his defense. In particular, his footwork at third base. Kieboom practiced individually at home from mid-March, when spring training ended, until work in Washington resumed this week. His preference would have been to be playing actual games, but he thinks the time to relentlessly drill could end up being beneficial.

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"I totally agree with that,” Kieboom said. “I think it's very easy to kind of throw the towel in and get frustrated that you're so close to a season and it all gets washed away the way it did. It kind of was a blessing in disguise because I found some things I was doing in spring training I didn't really care for from the offensive side and the defensive side. I can continue to work on those. Footwork, I have to keep working on my footwork. It bought me some more time to keep working on that, hone that craft. And offensively the same thing, I got to make some adjustments and kind of go back to the drawing board at home and work on those things."

His time now is limited. The season is two weeks away. The Nationals lost their Monday workout window. They were able to face live pitching Wednesday. Thursday will be a quiet day. Friday will resume full workouts. Next Monday, practices will shift to the evenings, one more small step toward emulating the rapidly-approaching season.

Then, eventually on July 23, Carter Kieboom will be standing at third base.

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Trea Turner calls 2020 MLB season a 'fluid situation' but never considered sitting out

Trea Turner calls 2020 MLB season a 'fluid situation' but never considered sitting out

WASHINGTON -- Trea Turner was clad in his cold-weather gear despite the temperature creeping toward 90 degrees. He often starts the season in the Spider-Man style getup, hood tight to his head and up over his mouth and ears. It’s typically used as protection from the chill of Opening Day. Turner does not like the cold.

Wearing it Tuesday was more of a test and sign. Players are not mandated to wear masks on the field. Some do, some do not. Turner said he probably won’t wear the ensemble during the season, but was checking on it during what resembled the team’s first full practice of Summer Camp. That was the test. Seeing him in the gear was a sign of how much players are feeling out the first portions of Major League Baseball’s reboot.

"For me I try to be positive,” Turner said. “There's gonna be bumps in the road and I've always said, control what you can control. We've got a great medical staff in place and what they say goes. They're looking out for our best interests and I trust them. ...But we're gonna have a little bit of hiccups along the way. As long as everyone stays safe and abides by rules I think we can get through a lot of it. Hopefully testing gets turned around a little quicker and they work those things out, because I think that's very important, maybe the most important thing, is to find out those results as quickly as possible.”

RELATED: SOTO REPORTEDLY IN ISOLATION AFTER CONTACT WITH TEAMMATE WHO HAS COVID-19

Turner spent the time between baseball’s initial shutdown and its attempted return at his house in Florida with his wife, Kristen Harabedian. He, like everyone else, had the option not to play this year if he felt unsafe. He never considered it.

“I always was leaning toward playing,” Turner said. “But that's a fluid question. You know, if it's going bad, you obviously can take all things into consideration and whatnot. But I think if we continue to do what we've done so far in these first three days then it's been the right decision, at least for me, to play.”

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Ryan Zimmerman and Joe Ross, two players Turner has now been around for years, chose not to play.

“Everyone's got their own situation,” Turner said. “They've got families. They come from different backgrounds. We'll support each and everybody in their decision whether to play or not to play. Those are guys I have a lot of respect for and I'm happy for them.

“It's a hard decision. It's not easy to choose to play or to not play, because you don't know what somebody's dealing with, you don't know if they're dealing with something, their family's dealing with something, somebody close to them's dealing with someone, whatever it may be. That's their decision and you've gotta support them in it. I hope those guys are staying safe. We're gonna miss them and hopefully we can play some games, because that's what a lot of us are looking forward to."

The Nationals’ trial run into all of this continued Wednesday with their fifth workout. They are 10 days from their first exhibition game and 15 days from hosting the New York Yankees on national TV to start the season -- if everyone makes it there. As Turner said, everything is a fluid situation, from masks to who will play. And, his voice is now becoming more of a factor: Turner will be the longest-tenured Nationals position player on the field for the first pitch of 2020.

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