Washington Nationals would not be the same without Bryce Harper

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals waves to the crowd following the Nationals 9-3 win over the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on September 26, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals waves to the crowd following the Nationals 9-3 win over the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on September 26, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Washington Nationals wrapped up their 2018 home schedule on Wednesday. It may be the last with Bryce Harper, and things wouldn’t be the same without him.

It was a strange day for the Washington Nationals and Bryce Harper on Wednesday. They had their final home game of the 2018 season, and it may well have been the last time the outfielder dons the home uniform at Nats Park.

The game was cut short after seven innings due to the weather and was deemed a 9-3 Nationals win. It was somewhat poetic that Harper was on deck when the inning ended with a sense of unfinished business that he has in D.C. and with the Nats.

He was asked after Wednesday’s game whether he felt that he still has work to do here. He responded by saying “I mean, we didn’t win. We had a great couple chances to win some games. Your goal at any given time is to win a World Series and we weren’t able to do that., so I guess we’ll see”.

Washington Nationals Bryce Harper
LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 28: Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals smiles as he makes his major league debut during practice before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 28, 2012, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Nationals were his team ever since he was called up and announced himself to the world in 2012. His team was supposed to win at least one World Series, and yet, they could never get past the first round of the playoffs.

Harper has felt the disappointment in those years just as much as any fan of the team, if not more. Sometimes he’s been the catalyst in those games, with key home runs, and others he’s been the scapegoat who struck out to end the run in 2017.

Whichever way you look at it, he’s been at the very heart of this team through its golden years, and it would not feel the same without him. With Harper, you always felt like the team had a chance if he could get to the plate in a key spot in the ninth. He just had that “it-factor” about him from the moment he stepped onto a major league field, and it’s tough to lose those type of guys in any sport.

It would be unrealistic to simply ignore the fact that he may well not be a part of this team next season and beyond. If the team doesn’t make a satisfactory offer or even decides that they want to move in a new direction, then he will be plying his trade elsewhere.

Mike Rizzo is a smart man and has been planning for this possibility for a while now. He’s set himself up with a “backup plan” of Juan Soto, Victor Robles, and Adam Eaton but he knows that in his ideal scenario, Harper would be trotting back out to the outfield, and taking his pre-game bow to the fans.

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In the last few days and possibly months, it’s becoming abundantly clear how much Bryce Harper needs the Nationals, and the Nationals need Bryce Harper. The outfielder sounds like he desperately wants to stay in every interview he gives, and it now seems like a matter of whether the team can make an offer good enough.

Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post even told 106.7 The Fan that the chances of him taking a hometown discount are increasing. She said “I don’t think the deal will be remarkably lower, I don’t see him doing that. But I think there’s a growing chance that he would make things easier on them if Scott Boras lets him”.

Some people will say that this is simply a ploy to get other teams to up their offers by publicly stating his interest in returning, given what he said before the season about not fielding questions on his future. But watching and reading Harper’s numerous interviews on the subject this month, you can tell that he’s sincere in what’s he’s saying.

He got to Nats Park early on Wednesday to potentially soak in every last detail for one last time. That’s not the action of someone who wants to leave. It’s the action of someone who desperately wants to stay and make these moments last, but is also aware of the fact that it may not happen.

All four times he stepped up to the plate in his possible final home game, the crowd stood and gave their appreciation. There was a sense of “one of our own” in the crowd that day. He’s a kid that’s all grown up, and 30,000 proud parents praying they will still see him regularly.

The chance is now there to join some of the iconic players of the sport to stay with one team their whole career. You only need to look across the division at how New York Mets fans are reacting to David Wright‘s final game to understand what it means in baseball to be a one-team man. Based on the reaction of the crowd on Wednesday, it’s safe to say the majority would be overjoyed to have Harper bow to the fans in right field to open the 2019 season.

Next. Harper or Rendon a higher priority?. dark

Washington Nationals fans had long assumed that Bryce Harper would leave once his rookie deal was up. Now that there appears to be more of a chance of him staying, it may be more heartbreaking if he does leave.