Bryce Harper Buzz Builds Ahead of Phillies Visit
This could prove to be one of the bigger weekends in Philadelphia sports in some time. As the Eagles are preparing to take on the New Orleans Saints on the road in the NFL playoffs, the Phillies are preparing to hit the road to Las Vegas to meet with free agent outfielder Bryce Harper. Ahead of the trip, much buzz is building around the Phillies and Harper. Here is the latest.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today, who reported that the Phillies and Harper would meet and early in the offseason explained on 97.3 ESPN that he felt that in the end the Phillies would land Harper, said that the pursuit had reached a new level. Nightengale appeared on the HIgh Hopes Podcast podcast for Philadelphia radio station Sportsradio WIP and called the Phillies and Harper union "more probable than ever before".
Let's face it: Phillies partial owner John Middleton is making the trip himself. He would not be willing to do so unless he means business. Middleton is said to have a good relationship with Harper's agent Scott Boras, who will be looking to set a record with his signing. The Phillies may have waited out the market and setting itself and now can swoop in and make a deal.
Former Phillies outfielder Greg Luzinski is convinced, for what it's worth:
Meanwhile, the video game MLB The Show is going to feature Harper on the cover this year. The game, set for a release in March, will feature Harper in whatever uniform he will be donning in 2019. The video game's social media is either having some fun, or knows something we do not know.
A tweet sent out with what Harper would look like in various uniforms in the National League East gave predictions for each team and how they would do with Harper on board. Does Playstation have any inside information? The original URL had the words "BrycePhanatic" on it. The social media account later joked that they could be announcing a new mascot.
But of course, there is one "Phanatic", differentiated from the word "fanatic", and he resides in Philadelphia.
But it did not stop there. The following allusions to Philadelphia were made:
- "Cancels Saturday Plans" (referring to the Phillies visit this weekend?)
- A hashtag "#thelieswetellourselves" quoting an article saying Harper's return to the Nationals was "heating up"
- On 75 days until the game's release: "A number better than '76" (possibly referring to the nation's founding in Philadelphia in 1776)
Of course, could Playstation know Harper's destination before it leaked out anywhere else? Seems like a stretch, but one would imagine that they have to start printing covers of that video game soon if the game is now under 75 days from being released.
Finally, Matt Rappa of Sports Talk Philly noted that the HTML code on Bryce Harper's MLB.com player page had some interesting code. The player page, which may be viewed here, had the word "Phillies" in it several times including a mention to the active roster. Could that be a giveaway?
It is possible that the MLB.com website administrators are boosting the search engine optimization so that Google searches for "Bryce Harper Phillies" land on that page. Normally the player pages are not updated that far in advance. Even Jean Segura's is still not that updated, indicating he will wear his rookie number of 9, though he will wear 2. Of course, Harper would represent a major signing, so perhaps they would like to be ready just in case.