The first time the Nationals and Phillies played this season, things got a little heated thanks to Cole Hamels sending a message to Washington hot shot rookie outfielder Bryce Harper courtesy of a fastball to the rear.
As a result of that plunking, Hamels got a five-game suspension and Phillies fans found a new public enemy No. 1 in Harper. Prior to the current series, Harper said he was hoping to get "a couple boos" but was also hoping not to get pegged with any batteries.
Just to make sure Harper was safe, the Phillies decided to beef up security around Harper.
“We did take precautionary measures and added additional security in the right field area for last night’s game,” Phillies Vice President of Communications Bonnie Clark said in an e-mail to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post. “We cannot discuss other details of the security enhancement. I am pleased to say there were no incidents during last night’s game.”
What's interesting about this -- and why Clark isn't discussing the specifics -- is that the Phillies apparently only beefed up security around Harper. A Washington Post reader sent the picture above to Dan Steinberg (of D.C. Sports Bog fame), which prompted Kilgore to inquire with the Phillies.
Steinberg also noted that there was some sort of trash thrown Harper's way on Monday night. Harper said, however, that nothing was thrown at him while he was in right field.
“No, they didn’t throw nothing at me,” Harper said Monday night.
Apparently the beef between Phillies fans and Harper hasn't reached the same level as it did with ex-Phillie Jayson Werth, who said Phils fans in D.C. yelled that he "deserved it" when he broke his wrist the first time the teams played.
Harper did manage to get a pretty good, albeit subtle, jab in at the Citizens Bank Park crowd, however, noting that he might have actually heard booing ... if the ballpark had been crowded.
“When I’m walking to the plate, I don’t really think about that,” Harper said. “I’m just trying to think about what I’m going to do this a-b and whatnot. But you can still hear everything. It echoes out there. It’s a good ballpark to play in. It gets really loud. Even if they don’t have that many people in the stands, it gets really loud. I think if they had a packed house, it would get a little louder.”
Of course, if the Phils weren't under .500 and five games back of the Braves in the NL East, attendance might not be an issue -- they still have sold out every game this season. And it's hard to fault Harper too much -- according to Kilgore, he also gave props to Mike Schmidt (and Julius Erving!) when talking about Philly's sports history.
It's nice to see, amid the bad blood and rivalry renewal, that there is a nice amount of respect between the two teams. Now get out there and boo Bryce Harper, Phillies fans.