It’s official. Bryce Harper is no longer a Washington National. He’s a Philadelphia Phillie.
The 26-year-old, home-run-hitting outfielder signed a contract last week that will keep him with the Phillies for 13 years.
So what are kids who love the Nats and Harper supposed to do? Throw away their Number 34 Nationals T-shirts?
Harper was the favorite player of lots of Washington-area kids. First, he seemed more like a kid than the other players. Harper was only 19 years old when he started for the Nats in 2012.
And he played as if he were a superhero. Harper was fast and could throw the ball a mile. But most of all, he hit home runs . . . long, see-you-later home runs.
In 2015, Harper was simply the best player in major league baseball. He hit for a .330 average and smashed 42 home runs.
Now he’s gone. I suppose kids who love Harper could root for the Phillies. But I’m not sure many kids around Washington will do that.
It’s not like Harper signed with the Chicago White Sox or some other team the Nats seldom play. The Nationals and the Phillies are in the same division. They play each other 19 times every season. If Harper and the Phillies do well, that hurts the Nats.
Maybe kids could find a new favorite player. The Nats have some good ones. Last year, outfielder Juan Soto was only 19 years old, and he had a better season than Harper’s rookie year. Soto hit just as many home runs (22), drove in more runs and had a higher batting average.
Third baseman Anthony Rendon is terrific, too. He was a better hitter than Harper in 2018 and a much better fielder.
But Soto and Rendon are kind of quiet. Harper was a star who walked around as if the cameras were always on him. Some people thought he was a showoff, but he did make things exciting.
I root for players who seem to need help. My first favorite player was Elijah Jerry “Pumpsie” Green of the Boston Red Sox. I loved his nickname — Pumpsie — and he really needed someone to root for him. Green lasted only five seasons in the big leagues and batted a not-so-great .246.
Maybe that’s why my favorite National is Michael A. Taylor. He is a wondrous center fielder who can make incredible catches. But Taylor struggles at the plate. Last season, Taylor hit only .227. He definitely needs help.
So pick a new favorite this season. Soto . . . Rendon . . . Taylor . . . or someone else. But don’t root for Harper.
He’s a Phillie now and long gone.