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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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Bryce Harper will not win a championship in Philadelphia


Bryce Harper is a once-in-a-generation talent. But he wasted any real chance of winning a World Series championship by signing with the Philadelphia Phillies. | Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/user: UCinternational

Bryce Harper is one of the most enigmatic players in sports. He’s like the fish at Long John Silver’s or the beef at Jack in the Box: it tastes like fish and looks like beef, but who really knows? What can be certain is this man, and all that hair gel, will never win a championship.

Harper recently signed a record-breaking 13-year $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. The contract will give the 26-year-old slugger enough money to buy a lifetime supply of hair products to keep his mane looking crispy.

Harper’s talent is not the reason he won’t win in Philadelphia. The guy is a statistical machine who is capable of putting up gaudy numbers. Even after a poor 2018 season, his new contract is much deserved and serves as a testament to his abilities.

But he sealed his fate by agreeing to go to Philadelphia. In doing so, Harper sold his soul to the devil, and this contract effectively ended any chance he had at lifting the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Hot headed

Harper is somewhat of a hothead and tends to throw temper tantrums whenever he struggles. He’s emotional to crazy ex-lover proportions. If you piss this guy off, expect to have your tires slashed and “Bryce was here” keyed into the side of your pretty little souped-up four-wheel drive.

This is the same guy who blamed an ejection on his pregame playlist, which supposedly had him too fired up to keep his emotions in check. One of the songs that induced this emotional state was “5AM” by Logic.

Let’s hope he never hears “Baby Shark: Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo,” because that bop of a song would likely cause Harper to enter a new dimensional plane of existence, one where no mercy is shown and all good things turn to ash.

Harper wears his heart on his sleeve and leaves nothing for the imagination. This is a great quality when he’s happy and playing well. But when the going gets tough, you can expect Harper to act accordingly. This has lead to multiple altercations with teammates who take issue with Harper’s antics.

Last season, Harper hit a routine fly ball to left field and lackadaisically jogged to first base. This caused his former teammate, Jonathan Papelbon, to scream at him from the dugout for his lack of effort. An argument ensued and ended with Papelbon grabbing Harper by the throat and shoving him into the dugout wall.

Harper better get used to getting choked out because, like Papelbon, Philadelphia fans will not stand for laziness. They will devour him at the first sign of weakness.

Harper was a kid when he made his MLB debut at just 19 years old. He came into the league with a reputation for being arrogant, which many believed was a maturity issue. But after seven years since his first at-bat, the right fielder has done little to show any signs of emotional growth.

Harper has dealt with criticism from traditional baseball fans who hate when players show any type of emotion. They value sportsmanship and scorn any display that could be considered self-indulgent. But nothing twists traditionalist’s panties more than when a player flips their bat after hitting a home run.

It’s a huge no-no in the “unwritten rules” of baseball etiquette. These rules mostly address sportsmanship with Code of Hammurabi-style punishments for those who break them: rules like “your pitcher hit my batter so expect my pitcher to hit your batter.”

Harper embodies everything traditional baseball fans hate and doesn’t care to follow the “unwritten rules.” In a league full of lobotomized players with less charisma than Mark Zuckerberg, Harper’s personality stands out. He’s not the kind of guy to give a cookie-cutter response for the sake of saving face.

In one of Harper’s more memorable interviews, a reporter asked him what his favorite beer was. At the time, Harper was only 19 years old and he responded, “That’s a clown question, bro.”

Philly fans

Harper better brace himself for more of the same in Philadelphia because they have enough clowns to staff Barnum and Bailey Circus 10 times over. Philly fans are in a category of their own when it comes to fandom, and playing the game the “right way” will be the least of Harper’s worries.

Philly fans drink a lot of beer and live in a city where the temperature can dip below zero — which is cold enough to put the calmest individual on edge.  It’s also a fact that 90 percent of the illiterate population in the United States is either from, or migrates to, Philadelphia. All of these conditions combined create a perfect storm of the world’s most belligerent sports fans.

Philadelphia is a hostile environment for visiting teams, but they at least get to leave once the game has concluded. Players for Philadelphia’s home teams must stay and endure the wrath of their fans.

Philadelphia fans have beat up an opposing team’s mascot, thrown beer bottles and cheesesteak on players, tossed commemorative bracelets — originally given to fans in remembrance of the life of the Flyers co-founder — onto the ice after a bad loss, jumped into the penalty box to fight a professional hockey player and climbed light poles to celebrate a victory after city officials specifically asked them not to and even greased up the poles to try and stop them.

They either hate you or love you. They wear their emotions on their sleeves and let players know exactly how they feel. On second thought, maybe this is the perfect fit for Harper.

But it also might be the worst duo to form since actor Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael started a band called “The Bacon Brothers.” You read that correctly. Kevin Bacon attempted a career in music.

The addition of Harper will make the Phillies an automatic contender. That’s how special his abilities are. He is a once-in-a-generation player that is capable of carrying a team when his bat is hot. But the same was said about the Nationals last season when Harper was there, and they didn’t even make the playoffs.

Now he’ll be playing with less talent than his previous team in front of a less tolerable fan base. And it’s only a matter of time before the emotionally volatile pair of Harper and Philly fans clash. It will be a Greek tragedy that only Philadelphia could write — remember Terrell Owens.

Watching Harper and Philadelphia fans coexist will be quality entertainment, but it won’t produce championships.

Assistant Opinion Editor Anthony Cianciulli is a broadcast journalism senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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