Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper is rooting for the Houston Astros to win the World Series
Instead, the Braves defied the odds, won the pennant, and are set to play in the World Series for the first time since 1999.
The Braves will take on the Houston Astros, who also won 95 games and are playing in the Fall Classic for the third time in five years. The controversial team won the 2017 World Series*, lost the 2019 World Series to the Washington Nationals, and are back for more this week.
When they face off, Bryce Harper will be rooting for the Astros.
Not because he’s particularly fond of the team, though. In 2020, he told the Starting 9 podcast that he was glad he never ended up an Astro:
"“I’m glad I didn’t now, knowing what we know – that would have been really bad.”"
Harper could’ve been an Astro himself. A trade between the Nationals and Astros for the star fell through in July 2018, and by 2019, Harper had signed a 13-year deal to play for the Phillies for $330 million, the richest contract in North American sports history at the time. Ironically, the Nationals and Astros faced off in the World Series that fall.
Rather, Harper is rooting for Dusty Baker, who managed him on the Nationals for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. At the end of the regular season, Harper raved about the legendary Baker:
"“I mean, he’s done so much for this game as a manager and as a player as well.Of course he wants that ring so bad, and I think that’s why he keeps going back to the game. Most of all, though, he just wants his teams to have success. He’s been so close so many times. He’s had an opportunity. The teams just haven’t been able to do it. We’ve all wanted it for him. He’s such a great manager, he deserves it. As an opposing player, if we’re not there, I’ll definitely be rooting for Dusty.”"
Will the Braves win the 2021 World Series?
While the Phillies continue to slog their way through a rebuild, the manager they could’ve had is in the postseason for the second year in a row. Baker was a finalist to manage in Philadelphia in 2020 but lost the job to Joe Girardi.
2021 marked a full decade since the Phillies’ last trip to the postseason. Meanwhile, the Braves won their 18th pennant in franchise history (22nd if you include the National Association pennants of the late 1800s) despite only finishing the regular season 88-73. The opponents they had to face to win the pennant enjoyed more regular-season success; the Milwaukee Brewers won 95 games, the San Francisco Giants 107, and the Los Angeles Dodgers 106.
But the postseason is a different animal, and history has shown that anything can happen in October.
That Baker’s Astros would be defeating Harper’s division rivals would only make him rooting for Houston even sweeter.