While thrilling in its own right, Bryce Harper‘s debut with the Phillies still lacked one crucial element: a hit. The newly-signed slugger went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts on Opening Day, crossing the plate only on Rhys Hoskins‘ seventh-inning grand slam.
On Saturday, however, Harper reclaimed his own narrative with a double-deck shot off of left-hander Jessie Biddle. It was his first hit of any variety in a Phillies uniform, and one that sent the fans in Citizens Bank Park into a frenzy.
The solo shot put the Phillies up 7-4 over the visiting Braves. At 113.7-m.p.h. off the bat and a whopping 465 feet into the stands, it’s the second-longest homer Harper has recorded in the Statcast era and, per MLB.com’s David Adler, tied for second-longest by a Phillies player. Harper obliged the fans with a curtain call after circling the bases.
Following Maikel Franco‘s RBI single in the eighth inning, the Phillies currently lead the Braves 8-4 in the ninth. A win would mark their first series-clincher in 2019.
The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.
After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.
Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.
Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:
In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?