Speaking to the media as All-Star Game festivities were under way in Miami, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper dropped a bombshell. Per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, he said that Phillies fans were not as rude as fans of the Mets and Braves.
There are several possible explanations Philly fans haven’t been as rude to Harper. Perhaps the reputation of Philly fans has been greatly exaggerated. (It has.) The Phillies have been terrible since 2013, so enthusiasm is at its lowest since the early 2000’s. While the Braves haven’t been anything to write home about recently, they have been competitive in the recent past, so there’s just a bit more animus at relevant Nats players. Maybe most importantly, Philly fans may also be aware that Harper can become a free agent after the 2018 season. The Phillies will have tons of money to spend, so Philly fans don’t want to do anything to sour Harper on a potential move up I-95.
It’s not like Harper hasn’t had beef with the Phillies and the fans. Then-Phillie Cole Hamels hit Harper with a pitch in May 2012. After the game, Hamels straight up admitted he was trying to hit Harper intentionally. Hamels was suspended five games. Harper took a jab at Philly fans a couple weeks later, saying, “Hopefully they don’t throw any batteries at me.”
That wasn’t the only thing Harper had to say on Monday, though. He also suggested a potential alteration to the All-Star Game in which two captains draft teams. He imagined Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw potentially pitching to teammate Justin Turner. Interesting.