It’s understandable that Bryce Harper vowed his allegiance to the Vegas Golden Knights. He is a Las Vegas native, and has the right to jump ship to root for his home team. I can recall doing the same thing when D.C. was awarded the Nationals. I grew up an Oakland A’s fan thanks in large to the Bash Brothers being on top of the world by the time I understood baseball, as a small child.
But Harper’s allegiance to Vegas isn’t as cut and dry as it seems. Sure, it’s unfortunate that the year his hometown gets an NHL franchise, they are really good and it’s the year the Washington Capitals decide to overcome all of their postseason demons and march right to the Stanley Cup Final — against the unsuspecting expansion Golden Knights.
Harper’s allegiance presents a problem. And as he stood in the stands of Capital One Arena with his wife, dawning Golden Knight jerseys, during Monday night’s Game 4 it was awkward and distasteful for many Washingtonians and nearby residents. Harper sitting alongside his Nationals teammates in a sea of red wearing a Vegas jersey was an eye sore. He looked out of place. The sight brought about the thoughts of Harper’s pending departure from the Nationals, as he is playing in his final contract year before becoming a free agent this winter.
Other thoughts surface, like remember the time when the Chicago Blackhawks were the cream of the crop in the NHL and Harper was sporting around the Blackhawks merchandise, flaunting his love?
Or how about when the Capitals won the President’s Trophy in back-to-back seasons and it appeared they were primed to get over the proverbial hump, and Harper along with other D.C. sports stars chanting for the Capitals?
All of that is no more, now that the Golden Knights exists. Are we to forget about those times? Maybe we should forget that a Vegas native cheers for Duke and sometimes UNLV in college basketball. Don’t forget he is a Dallas Cowboys’ fan. Oh, and a Los Angeles Lakers fan. How about his love for Ohio State in college football when Maryland is now in the Big Ten? And what about his allegiance to the New York Yankees?
Bryce Harper, wearing a Golden Knights jersey, looked demoralized after Vegas's Game Four loss https://t.co/smPs0ar17k
— RMNB (@russianmachine) June 5, 2018
Certainly, one can argue I’m reaching with this analogy, but you can sometimes gather a man’s loyalty by the teams or things he favors. Harper’s sports allegiance is all over the place which could be the slighest indication of how loyal he can be to the Nationals. And on the heels of the Capitals quite possibly grabbing their first ever Stanley Cup, expectations have amplified for the remaining three major pro sports teams in the city.
No longer are the Wizards’ second-round failures brushed aside. The Redskins need to get on the ball, and start winning and put a cease to all the 7-9, 8-8 and one-and-one in the playoffs seasons. And yes, just winning the NL East only to be bounced in the NLDS is no longer to be tolerated from the Nationals, Harper’s team.
Harper is headed to free agency no matter the outcome of the Nationals’ 2018 season. Anything short of a World Series or at the very least getting to the NLCS is a failure. The fans of the city will be holding the lovable losers accountable with a possible Stanley Cup in the bag. Twenty-six years is a very long time between championships in the city, and the near taste of having one puts every team on notice. We want more.
And if that means rejecting Harper’s aspirations of landing a $400 million contract, will give the Nats’ owners, the Lerner family, flexibility to get a World Series here, then so be it.
The Capitals were supposed to scale back this season with a retooling of their roster, however, they exceeded expectations and overcame the playoff demons to get one game away from winning a championship.
The leaks of interest with the Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia Philles are no longer threatening or frightening. Definitely not with 19-year old Juan Soto and 21-year old Victor Robles standing in the wings waiting to get their shots as possible faces of the Nationals. Soto’s emergence to the majors and solid play gives a glance of what the future can be even without Harper. Robles is already dubbed as the Harper replacement, now getting Soto on point gives Washington two?
Before this hockey season, there were many kings of the city. Harper along with Ovechkin and John Wall of the Wizards were at the top of the list. However, it looks Ovechkin has broken through and set to bring the city its first pro title in nearly three decades. Harper, Wall, and the Redskins are on notice. Being great without a title is no longer tolerable and how can the Nationals keep a competitive roster with $400 million committed to one man?
How can $400 million be committed to a .211 career hitter in the postseason? So, when he stands there defiantly with a Golden Knights jersey and flaunts his allegiance to another major league club, one that is the envy of all other MLB clubs, if he does not want to be part of D.C., so be it, right?
With what Harper exposed our eyes to on Monday night, if he chooses to leave D.C. and the Nationals for greener pastures, coping with his loss has become easier. .