The fans came out hot and grabbed all the headlines. On MLB.com, it read "Bryce booed heavily by raucous DC crowd." However, as the game wore on, Nationals fans began to show their true colors. It was a sad display from a fanbase that wanted to make a statement.
Walking the concourse before Tuesday night's game, there was a buzz in the stadium. Nationals fans came out in full force with signs and defaced Harper jerseys. There was even a clown, or three. When Harper was introduced for his first at-bat, the boo birds came raining down on the once-beloved superstar.
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The first at-bat was electric. Fans jeered Harper as Max Scherzer pelted the strike zone with upper-90s heat. It was a spectacle. It was what sports are all about. When Harper struck out, the fans erupted. They had their moment, and the upper hand, but that soon would fade.
After another strikeout, with Nationals fans feeling good, Harper laced a double to right, much to the dismay of the home fans, who, for the third time in the game, actually paid attention to what was going on.
Then, things took a drastic change.
With the Phillies leading 5-0, Harper batted with one on and two out. Suddenly, the boos weren't as loud and the once boisterous fans weren't so boisterous. The fanbase had lost steam after three at-bats and less than two hours.
As the night has gone on, the boos have become less and less a factor.
Bryce's bat has become more of a factor.
Big hit here. pic.twitter.com/DVs1wxuTCa— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 3, 2019
As the sixth run crossed the plate, I heard one fan get up from his seat, look at his friend and say, "I hope we get them next time," as he proceeded toward the exit. In the bottom of the sixth inning, fans raced towards the exit faster than the presidents who raced around the field a few innings earlier.
Signs once held proudly were left abandoned.
The seats, once full of nearly 35,000-plus fans, empty.
All it took was six innings.
The Phillies fans that made the trip, many of whom camped out in right field to greet Harper each inning, and, perhaps, make him feel more comfortable than he otherwise would have felt, took over the stadium. While it was the Nationals fans who showed up in great numbers and voice early on, it was the Phillies fans who ultimately, showed why Harper wanted to play for them for the next 13 years.
… And then this happened.
Harper crushed one 458 feet and the only fans left in the park, wearing Phillies red, gave their new hero a well-deserved applause.
You see, I don't think Nationals fans were here to boo Bryce Harper. They were here to boo, so that Phillies fans couldn't claim that they took over the stadium. It worked for the length of three at-bats and they simply gave up and went home, while the Phillies fans remained.
After all was said and done, the Phillies fans felt authentic, the Nationals fans felt fake and it was a huge night for Bryce Harper and not for the people who came here hoping to see him fail.
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