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In the run-up to the 13-year, $330 million contract agreement between the Phillies and superstar outfielder Bryce Harper on Thursday, the city of Philadelphia was on the brink of a collective coronary event. A few of the city’s less, ah, reliable members of the sports media spoke up about the Harper sweepstakes, which threatened to run into March as the Dodgers and Giants jumped back into the mix in negotiations.
On February 17, 94 WIP personality Howard Eskin tweeted, “@Bharper3407 are you more interested in money or playing for a good team and organization? If it’s about money I think that motivation doesn’t show me your desire to win. You know the #phillies are good organization and team so what’s the issue and holdup. So it is about money!”
Three days ago, Jack McCaffery of the Delaware County Daily Times tweeted, “If I had $3.9 billion, I would *not* allow some baseball player or anyone else to big-time me the way Harper is doing Middleton. Pull the offer, go sign a pitcher, and let future free agents know who is the boss. Realmuto alone made the #Phillies offseason a success.” He added, “All I am saying, really, is that if I had 3.9B, I would laugh at some baseball player trying to make me look bad. Laugh. Out loud. I’d be the big-timer, not the big-timee.”
And earlier today, before the Harper news broke, 94 WIP personality Angelo Cataldi tweeted, “Here’s my latest take on the Phillies quest to sign Bryce Harper: He had a chance to play in sports heaven. Now he can go to hell. When he returns to Philly as an opponent, he will be receive our full wrath with a boo like nothing he has ever heard. Believe it.”
The Philly sports media wasn’t the only entity about to lose its collective mind. Scott Allen of the Washington Post listened to 94 WIP callers, many of whom were upset that negotiations had gone on for so long. One caller said about Harper, “If I had a chance, I would spit in his face.” Thankfully, the hosts — Jon Marks and Ike Reese — pushed back on that idea. Another caller said Harper “played with our emotions too much.”
On Twitter, a fan wrote, “Harper is a coward who couldn’t take the pressure of the #phillies fan base.” While legions of disgruntled Phillies fans promised to boo Harper with as much strength as they could muster, one fan said, “He doesn’t deserve our boos.”
Despite the melodrama, the Phillies finally landed their superstar free agent. Fans will be losing their voices cheering for Harper now rather than booing him. The radio personalities will yell until they’re blue in the face about Harper deserving the NL MVP award; they won’t be yelling because he chose the Dodgers or Giants over the Phillies. Owner John Middleton, president Andy McPhail, and GM Matt Klentak saved the city of Philadelphia from having a massive collective coronary event. And for that, we should all be thankful.