Dear Washington Nationals fans,
I know that the last person you would want to hear from is a Philadelphia Phillies fan, but I just want to let you know that I kind of feel bad for you.
As we all know Bryce Harper, the player your team drafted first overall in 2010 and became the face of your franchise, signed a record-breaking 13 year, 330 million dollar contract with my team and your arch-rival, Philadelphia Phillies.
As a Philadelphia fan, I am thrilled to have Harper because his presence alone has finally put the Phillies back into baseball relevance, something they haven't seen since the days of the 2011 Four Aces.
In 2018, the Phillies finally climbed out of the hole of the last place team with a couple of young talents like Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins, but they still needed more, a reason for fans to go to the ballpark. And they got one of so the biggest draws in baseball.
Bryce Harper may not be the best player in baseball, but he's definitely the most exciting player and it's biggest box office draw. The look, the beard, the way he swings the bat, and the fiery temper he displays on the field, Harper holds the spirit of intense competitiveness that another legendary Philly free agent signing had in Pete Rose (let's hope Bryce's legacy doesn't get self-sabotaged down the line like Pete Rose though).
And remember Nats fans, even though we took your star player, I also remember the time when you took one of our star players through free agency in Jayson Werth. You guys took a great Phillie and a World Champion and turned him into a lumber-jack on a perennial playoff underachiever. You even put him in your own Ring of Honor featuring 2 season member of the Nationals Pudge Rodriguez!
But I must confess National fans, through these days of excitement and joy, I still have a nugget of guilt and sympathy towards your fanbase. I know your story well, I remember once upon a time you were the tragic franchise known as the Montreal Expos. A franchise so snake-bit that their best chance to win a World Series didn't happen because the season ended with a players strike in 1994. You were reborn in Washington in 2005, bringing baseball back to the nation's capital for the first time in 35 years. The DC area hadn't had a baseball team win a championship since the days of Walter Johnson in the 1924 World Series win over the New York baseball Giants.
The Washington Nationals: A Legacy of Failure youtu.be
With the Nationals arriving in 2005, they did a great job at making a fanbase that had either been Oriole fans or no fans of no team. They brought up stars through the draft and free agency like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, Jason Werth, and Max Scherzer, but Bryce was the golden child. When you thought of the Nationals, you thought of Bryce Harper first, and this run of four division titles in six years will be remembered as "The Bryce Harper Era."
Harper arrived in 2012 with so much promise. The generational electric player who was going to give Washington D.C. baseball the identity it had lacked for decades. The one who was going to become an all-time and deliver multiple World Series rings and go into the Hall of Fame as a National. And now? Sure he won an MVP and has been elected to several all-star teams, but the championship opportunities have evaded you one year after another.
Now, he's on your arch rival.
For 13 years.
Even though your team spent years beating up on mine and winning division titles, I remember when the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East and the Nationals were the bottom-feeders of the division. The biggest difference between our run of success and yours is that we managed to capture a World Championship during the process, while yours had spectacular first-round exits. Now, this doesn't mean that your window for a title has closed, you still have great talent and the race for the National League East title should be really competitive in the 2019 season. But if success does come, it'll be without the one who you thought would lead the way the whole time.
If this makes you feel any better, in 2001 a player drafted first overall who became a blossoming star on one team and then signed the richest contract in sports history with another within their division.
You might know him as the CEO of A-Rod Corp.
He left the Seattle Mariners to become the highest paid player in baseball with the Texas Rangers. That season, the Mariners signed Ichiro Suzuki and tied the single-season record for regular season wins with 116. The Rangers fell with the first of three straight losing seasons with A-Rod and traded him to the Yankees before the 2004 season.
As a Phillies fan that would be the worst case scenario with this Bryce Harper signing, but I have a feeling it won't come anywhere near that catastrophic for my team.
With that said Nats fans, with Harper now in red pinstripes, I wish you all the best (but not really.)