Can a blue-collar city accept a star like Bryce Harper on the Phillies?
Philadelphia sports, not just the Phillies, needs a superstar to revive a town starving for wins. The city has bounced from Illya Bryzgalov, to Andrew Bynum, to Cliff Lee, to Joel Embiid.
Anyone who’s followed the Phillies recently knows the rumors being floated regarding the 2018 offseason when Bryce Harper and Manny Machado become free agents. With only Odubel Herrera’s contract on the books going forward the Phillies have the ability to spend big after next season.
Harper could potentially be the biggest name to hit free agency in the history of sports, which comes with the largest contract in history as well.
Predictions on what Harper, who’ll turn just 26-years-old after next season, have peaked in the ballpark of $400 million. That’s what Alex Rodriguez made in his entire career with Seattle, Texas, and the Yankees.
Financially the move makes sense, but can the Phillies and the town handle Harper’s “Hollywood” personality?
Jonathan Papelbon is an example of personalities gone wrong in Philadelphia baseball, but when he was lights out there weren’t many people complaining. It’s when he went downhill people took exception to his antics and lewdness.
Can we handle Harper not always running out ground balls? We did when Jimmy Rollins, the franchise’s all-time hits leader, did so.
Can we accept the fact he’s not a hometown player, and unlike Jim Thome would have the attitude many don’t appreciate? We did with Cliff Lee until his production flattened out.
Can we handle the fact he’s getting an enormous paycheck at such a young age? We did with Ryan Howard when he was the MVP before a career threatening injury.
More importantly, can Harper handle the fans and media in Philadelphia? It’s certainly much more aggressive in this town than D.C., where people are just now learning what baseball is. That’ll be the biggest question should this relationship come to fruition.
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Signing any player to a long-term contract for that amount of money is a risk, and in some cases, it was worth it. A-Rod, while a headache, in the end, was part of a championship team in New York, to the disdain of Philadelphia fans.
You’d be signing a player who was an All-Star in four of his first five seasons and can hit 40 home runs with a .330 batting average. Not to mention he’d be playing half his career in a ballpark with a power ally suited to his play.
Some people bring up the prospects in the Phillies organization as a reason why Harper wouldn’t make sense. The team has two years to hopefully learn about Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens, yet regardless, we are talking about a perennial MVP candidate in Harper.
Philadelphia hates Harper because he’s with the Nationals, and their feelings towards him may never change. But the second he hits a walk-off home run off the bell in center field or wins a championship in this city, our opinions will take a180 degree turn.