Aside from the Phillies managerial search, the biggest topic surrounding baseball in Philadelphia is about Bryce Harper’s former team. The Washington Nationals are heading to the World Series for the first time in their franchise’s history just one season after Harper’s departure to Philadelphia.
The narrative out there has been primarily been that Harper signed a gigantic deal to go to a division rival while his former team goes to their first Fall Classic. That statement also leads to the assumption that the Nationals are better off without him there. This discussion has brought up one question. Is Bryce jealous that his former team got over the hump without him there? In an exclusive interview with Jayson Stark of The Athletic, Harper candidly spoke about the subject.
Was he jealous, in any way, of all those guys spraying champagne in his old locker room?
“No,” he said again, without a millisecond’s hesitation, “because like I said, I made my decision, and that was my decision. And it was the final decision that I made. You know, jealousy isn’t good. For me, it’s about having the gratitude to go out and do what I do each day and not having an attitude towards anybody else. “
Since arriving in Philadelphia, Harper has embraced a leadership role with the Phillies. Despite their disappointing finish, Harper had a tremendous second half of the season, slashing .276/.376/.564 with 19 home runs and 52 RBIs.
The other side of this narrative is that the Nationals are a better team without Bryce Harper. Former Phillie Jayson Werth quickly dismissed this idea when asked about it.
“This is such a non-topic,” Werth said. “I think it’s a joke, that people are saying they won because Bryce Harper’s not on their team. They won because they’re dominant, and because they’re a team with no holes – not because Bryce Harper’s not there.”
Although Harper believes the Nationals could have afforded to keep him and also found a way to make their other moves, he realizes they didn’t have to make that choice with the salaries of Washington’s currently out there. Even with that thought, Harper has no regrets about his decision and no hard feelings towards the Nationals. He and his wife Kayla welcomed their first son into the world over the summer.
“Those are the guys I played with and came through the organization with … I wish them nothing but the best. And that’s real. I have no hard feelings toward them, or Mike Rizzo, or anything like that. You know, they’re a great team. And that’s why they are where they are.”
“I made the best decision for my family. And I am so happy to be in Philly. It’s the place that I wanted to be.”
The Phillies have a lot of work to do to improve on their 81-81 finish in 2019. First up is finding a new manager after Gabe Kapler’s dismissal shortly after the conclusion of the regular season.
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