Washington sports fans are notoriously apathetic, and perhaps rightly so when you look at DC’s last two and a half decades of sports history. No major Washington sports team has won a title since the Redskins in 1991. The Capitals have had one of the most consistent teams in the NHL, but zero Stanley Cup appearances during the Alex Ovechkin era. The Wizards cannot seem to get out of their own way, even when a star like John Wall falls into their lap. The aforementioned Redskins have gone through years of futility since Dan Snyder took over as owner, ruining the career of their once transcendent star Robert Griffin III. Fans have seen their DC teams waste the careers of some of the best athletes in their respective sports, toiling in mediocrity hoping one finally breaks the cycle of let downs. Bryce Harper is here to break the cycle.
Last Sunday, Harper was supposed to have the day off. This did not stop him from saving the day for the Nationals again. In the 9th inning, with his team needing a run to tie the game, he stepped in and hit a clutch pinch hit home run. Washington went on to win the game in 16 innings, and it’s the kind of hard fought win that can help swing a season for a ball club. For a team that massively underachieved last season, they know that even these April games can have a huge impact on the playoff race. The Nationals have learned from their past mistakes and are as well positioned as any team to make a run at the World Series. Washingtonians might be preparing for another let down, but Harper has never had an issue surpassing even the most optimistic expectations.
A touted high school phenom, Harper was the first overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. He was advertised as the next great superstar and has not disappointed. He has made three All Star teams, won the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player Award, and helped the Nationals to their only two postseason appearances since moving to DC in 2005. Already in 2016, he is leading the league in just about every batting category including Home Runs, RBIs, Slugging Percentage, and OPS. The man is doing everything in his power to help his team win, giving outstanding production and playing his heart out. He is already succeeding at his goal to “Make Baseball Fun Again”, a phrase he coined this offseason after media criticism of his style of play. Harper wants the older players and managers to relax on some of baseball’s unwritten rules and to not overreact when a player like himself celebrates a big home run with a bat flip, like Jose Bautista did in the playoffs last year. He is doing things his way, not listening to his critics, and bringing excitement to the Nationals, and baseball as a whole, that it hasn’t seen in some time.
It might finally be time for Washington fans to let their guard down, to forget the heartbreaks of the past and to enjoy the pure excitement that Harper brings to the field each and every night. Pack Nationals Park every home stand to witness his greatness. Stay tuned for every at bat, because like we saw on Sunday, Harper only needs one to change the game. And there is no doubt he is the changing the game in DC.
Photo Credit: FOX Sports