It’s finally here — the real Opening Day of the season. The first three games were nice. After this game, after 40,000 Nationals fans (and Phillies fans) see Bryce Harper in Washington wearing a ‘P’ on his chest instead of the Curly W, he will belong to the Phillies. And this offseason will really be over.
So happy Opening Day (Max Scherzer is even on the hill) — and here’s the scoop from South Capitol:
How Bryce Harper went from ‘I’m going to be a National’ to ‘We’re going to Philly’ (WaPo)
In the middle of a rain delay last September, the Nationals handed Bryce Harper their offer in an envelope, demanding a response by November 1st. Harper went mute before re-engaging with the Nationals, thinking the two sides would strike a deal, thinking that if he could come back, he was coming back. Then, they offered $250 million in January — and with no desire to play on the West Coast, Bryce Harper became a Phillie.
Max Scherzer on facing Bryce Harper as Nationals’ opponent: ‘This is just Round 1’ (WaPo)
Eventually, it'll become normal for Bryce to show up at Nationals Park wearing road grays. Tonight, it will not feel normal whatsoever. Sean Doolittle, for what it's worth, will not be making eye contact.
Bryce Harper to play 1st game as visitor at Nationals Park - (APNews)
“I’ll always remember and cherish all the screaming and yelling and the exciting times that we had the last seven years. Like I’ve said before, I wish them nothing but the best, all the players in that clubhouse. It’s a great fan base. Great city to live in,” said Harper. “Excited to go back. And excited to compete.”
What are people in the Nationals organization saying as Bryce returns to D.C.? (NBCSW)
Max Scherzer is excited for what he calls "round 1," while Anthony Rendon wished him the best and pointed to Juan Soto.
Bryce Harper returns for first matchup against his old team and Max Scherzer (NBCSW)
“Obviously, making a 25-man roster is out of our control,” Rendon said. “We’re just basically pawns of wherever they put us. So I think we have to trust the front office is doing the best that they can and put us in the best situation to win, whether it be now or for down the road.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser joins Racing Presidents podcast to talk Bryce Harper, future of sports betting (NBCSW)
Muriel Bowser was thankful to Bryce for what he did for the city of DC and the cause of DC statehood, but she's ready to watch Max Scherzer strike him out. Also, there are plans to open sportsbooks at Nationals Park, which is, uh, interesting.
Bryce Harper drawn as Benedict Arnold before Phillies vs. Nationals (SI)
Muriel Bowser, despite her appreciation for Harper, still drew the comparison between Harper and another famous traitor.
Victor Robles shows promise at plate for Nationals (MLB.com)
Robles is wildly talented at the plate, wildly frustrating on the basepaths, and still in need of sharpening in the outfield. It's encouraging, given that the frustrating parts should dissipate with time, while the bat looks like it'll return soon. (In the meantime, there's still no info about Michael A.'s timeline to return.)
Bryce Harper says he and his wife are having a baby... (and his wife says it's not April Fools') (NBCSW)
The good news: Babies. The bad news: Bryce Harper said he'll be "Philly-raised," whatever that means especially given that the overwhelming odds are that Harper has settled far from actual Philly.
ESPN’s Alex Rodriguez takes a shot at D.C. as a sports town (WaPo)
Rodriguez called Philly a sports town, while noting that those in D.C. are only thinking about "politics and the White House." If that was true, then it's not exactly a roast (oh NO! informed citizens!), but the great news is that the screaming hordes at Nationals Park and Capital One Arena consistently prove the opposite.
Robles learning with each game to get better in center field (MASN)
"Even with his five-tool plus-plus ratings and top-prospect accolades, there would be growing pains. It would be a trial by fire in some sense, and it has been. But with every play, the 21-year-old Robles is learning from his mistakes and building to get better."