By Robbie Cruz
Groups of students from The Catholic University of America faced stormy weather and rushed to the Metro on Tuesday, April 2nd to Nationals Park for The Philadelphia Phillies game against the Washington Nationals.
This wasn’t like most games because a former MVP and superstar right fielder, Bryce Harper, returned to Nationals Park for the first time since he left the Nationals as a free-agent.
Harper left the Nationals to sign a 13-year $330 million with the Phillies. This was the richest contract in the history of baseball, as it surpassed Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year $325 million contract. The Washington Post said that the Nationals had offered Harper 10-years and $300 million, but Harper has stated that the number of years in the contract is what brought him to the Phillies.
Since signing the contract, Harper has met expectations for Phillies fans, as he has hit .417, with three home runs and eight walks in only seven games. Harper finished the game hitting 3-5 with a home run and 3 RBI.
According to Nationals fan and freshman business major, John Anthony Buono, the reaction to Harper’s return surprised him the most.
“I was surprised he got booed so much, I definitely expected people to boo, but I expected the fans to be a lot better to him for his return,” Buono said.
According to Buono, fans all around the stadium were calling Harper a traitor for leaving the Nationals.
Freshman Pennsylvania-native and politics major, Paul Tsikourus, was also surprised about the boos, but he was more surprised about the amount of Phillies fans that attended the game to support Harper.
“The amount of Phillies fans that showed up to see him at an opponent’s park was incredible,” said Tsikourus. “Sections were bought out to accommodate the Philly fans, and this showed me that the city of Philadelphia was fully behind their team and their new hero, Bryce Harper.”
Ever since the Phillies signed Harper, they hold a 7-3 record and are first place in the National League East. The Washington Nationals are currently 5-5 and remain 2 games out of first place. There are 162 games in a baseball season, which is why Buono is not worried about the Nationals being in fourth place in the East.
“I think the Nats will be just fine without him,” said Buono. “Despite the MVP, Silver Slugger, Rookie of the Year presence in that lineup, I think the Nationals have all the weapons available to them to win lots of games without him.”
The Washington Nationals can also look to build around their pitching for the next few seasons. The Nationals have a rotation that features three-time Cy-Young award winner, Max Scherzer. The rotation also features Stephen Strasburg and then recently added Patrick Corbin from the Arizona Diamondbacks for 6-years and $140 million.
The Washington Nationals have a lineup that is full of young players that the team believes in. Players including Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Trea Turner, and Anthony Rendon are pieces that the Nationals could look to build around for their future.
The game featured fans being thrown out of the game due to spectators that were heckling Bryce Harper most of the game.
This was a game that Tsikourus and Buono claim that they will never forget. Bryce Harper is a Philadelphia Phillie and this move is expected to change baseball for the next 13 years.