It didn’t take Bryce Harper long to return home.
Harper and his new team, the Philadelphia Phillies, will open a three-game series in the nation’s capital on Tuesday evening, but the hype has already reached a fever pitch. The drama will generate itself under the circumstances, but what could a few extra nudges from the media hurt.
Harper is living a dream reserved for very few. In February he signed a massive 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies, soaked up the M-V-P chants during an opening week sweep against the division rival Atlanta Braves and announced on social media he will be a dad too.
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The Washington Post added a bit more drama — and some clarity regarding the rumors and negotiations this past winter. Harper told the Post rumors of him potentially playing on the West coast for the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants or San Diego Padres was a “misconception” saying:
“I really didn’t want to play out West. It’s a little close to Vegas, you know what I’m saying? I love my family. But I love the East Coast as well. I love the vibe there, the intensity, the way ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ is actually at night. Stuff like that mattered.”
Harper said Tuesday night will feel “weird,” but over time, the peculiar will become the norm. That’s what happens when two teams play 19 games over a season, and potentially, 247 regular season face-to-face meetings over the next 13 years.
Max Scherzer is ready for the challenge, telling the Washington Post:
“It will be weird to see Bryce because we’ve only seen him in a Nats uniform. So … obviously that’s weird. We’re going to be facing each other a lot. This is just the first. Whatever happens on Tuesday, it’s going to be the course of a career of facing him. This is just round one.”
Sean Doolittle added:
“You know who it is. But you’re putting all that to the side and trying to remind yourself what the game plan is and what you’re looking to do against him. The ultimate goal is to have a mind-set where it doesn’t matter who’s in the box. You’re just executing your pitches and blocking all that stuff out. Sometimes that’s tough to do. But that’s the goal.”
Tomorrow will provide some additional drama, but over time, Harper will become better known as a Phillie than a National. The weird will become the norm; the pinstripes will become stock; the “W” will morph into a “P.”
Time has a way of balancing the scales that way.