Once a Harper Hater, how Bryce Harper converted me into a fan
by Scott Butler 3/3/19

Bryce Harper Press Conference

Entering this offseason, I wasn't sure if the Phillies would land Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, or both, but I was sure of one thing I did not want Bryce Harper.

I was a Harper hater.

The hair flips and the beard were just the start of it. Bryce Harper connected himself to Scott Boras - unofficially as he pointed out at the press conference - at the age of 14. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 16. He decided from day one that the almighty dollar was the only thing that mattered - there would be no home town discounts for this blonde, bearded man.

That's why it was not even the slightest bit surprising when he rejected a $300 million pledge from the Washington Nationals (which turned out to be worth way less with payments stretching out until age 60, but I have a theme going here.)

I've seen Harper dog it down the line on more than one occasion, and that's just in games he played against the Phillies. And who can forget the time Jonathan Papelbon choked him for not running a ball out. Harper looked like a punk kid learning a lesson from a veteran player. Some might say it is a high compliment if Jonathan Papelbon doesn't like you, but it must reveal something when a teammate gets on you for not hustling.

It also seemed clear that Harper's awful defensive metrics last season were because $300 million was more important to him than making a play for his teammates.

And how about MLB The Show hinting that Harper might announce his new way of video game?

It also seemed quite evident through social media that this would be the most Scott Boras of Scott Boras contracts ever.

Some of the above might be true, some might be completely false, and some of might be in between, but my opinion of Bryce Harper took a complete 180 as soon as the details of the contract came through.

$330 million? No surprise there.

But 13 years? For an average annual value of $25.38 million? WITH NO OPT OUTS?

Bryce Harper was not forced to forgo any opt-out clauses as part of a compromise. He wanted and insisted upon there being no opt-out, despite having an agent who he said “invented the opt-out.”

“I wanted to be able to dig my roots somewhere, and that was through the good and through the bad, through the ups and downs of a team and an organization,” Harper said at his press conference.

Money was a huge factor, as it is in almost all contracts, but it was not the only thing that mattered here. Far from it.

In fact, Harper almost intentionally took a lower average annual value to give the organization financial flexibility to continually improve the roster.

“I’m making 26 million a year, something like that, so I think that’s going to be able to bring some other guys in as well to be able to help this organization win,” Harper said. “I know there’s another guy in about two years that comes off the books. We’ll see what happens with him.”

It was a refreshing demonstration of commitment to an organization he hopes will be his last one. It's also exactly the type of decision that will endear him to Phillies fans and win over haters like myself.

If Bryce Harper nudged me away from the hate with his contract, he catapulted me towards hard core fandom with his press conference.

Harper was articulate and respectful in his first public words to his new fan base. He was genuine and sincere. He said all of the right things, but not in a contrived, scripted, overly measured way.

Myself having never paid much attention to anything Harper said in the past, genuine and sincere were not the words I expected to come to mind. Time to eat my words.

Maybe Bryce Harper was a punk when Pappy smashed him against the dugout wall, but it's hard to describe him that way now.

No more Harper Hate. Now I'm just Harper Happy.

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