Shortly after the 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) season ended, Philadelphia Phillies owner John Middleton was asked by USA TODAY Sports about how the Phillies would approach this upcoming offseason. “We’re going into this expecting to spend money,” Middleton said, “and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.’’
"We’re going into this (offseason) expecting to spend money," Phillies owner John Middleton told @BNightengale. "And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it." https://t.co/uTHWOH4aem
— Tom Schad (@Tom_Schad) November 16, 2018
To most Phillies fans, this meant one thing: Signing former National League MVP, and six-time All-Star Bryce Harper to a 10-year deal worth around $300 million, making him the highest-paid player in MLB history. Or in other terms:
As I write this—after all the drama, anticipation, and waiting—I can say with full confidence that Bryce Harper is officially going to be a Philadelphia Phillie for the next 13 seasons. On Thursday, February 28, Middleton made good on his statement and offered the outfielder a contract worth $330 million dollars.
But as any Phillies fan will tell you, this wasn’t a walk in the park. We had to endure months of false stories, tweets, and comments that drove this city mad. And the driving force behind the madness? Social media. (Editor’s note: Shocking.)
Social media made Bryce’s offseason a complete circus. Even up until the day of the deal, we saw posts that suggested he was going to sign with the Dodgers. Now, though, that’s all behind us, and the Phillies are left with a roster that is well-poised for October baseball.
As some form of Philly sports fan therapy, let’s break down the three social accounts that drove us up a wall during this process.
Exhibit A: MLB The Show
Along with being the most sought-after free agent this offseason, Bryce Harper will also grace the cover of PlayStation’s MLB The Show 19. The video game has taken a creative approach to Harper’s free agency by running campaigns that tease which team’s uniform he will be wearing in the game.
They’re also fans of stirring the pot:
Relax, there's no hidden Bryce Harper rumor in this tweet. Or is there… pic.twitter.com/nfzR13TscU
— MLB The Show (@MLBTheShow) January 10, 2019
You'll want to keep an eye on this account tomorrow… just saying.
Get hyped: https://t.co/MeSPqa1pm2 pic.twitter.com/TIBlOBgif0
— MLB The Show (@MLBTheShow) January 28, 2019
Just don't say that in front of the @Phillies fans… https://t.co/3vzIm8MvPj
— MLB The Show (@MLBTheShow) January 28, 2019
Exhibit B: Jon Heyman
Jon Heyman, an MLB insider, appeared to be doing his best impression of the “Hey, can I copy your homework?” “Yeah just make sure it looks different” meme throughout the whole process. Featured below are three different tweets from three different days:
While Phillies are seen as the favorite (and may well be), team Harper has been negotiating in Vegas with two teams who were there to see Bryce today, “with more to follow”
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 24, 2019
While Philly appears to be in strong position, word is there is no deal yet with Bryce, and no expectation he will be returning east with Phillies owner John Middleton. “Just a meeting,” is the official word. SF, SD, Wash, maybe 1 more still in the game to varying degrees.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 23, 2019
While Phillies seem like favorite for Bryce (and may well be), incumbent Nats shouldn’t be discounted. While Nats have spent good $ (Corbin, Dozier, Suzuki, etc.) and once seemed ready to move on, they love BH, and final call will be Ted Lerner’s, who signed Scherzer in surprise.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 21, 2019
You can see why my frustration would start to build up, right?
Exhibit C: Bryce Harper
Bryce himself was responsible for a lot of the social media madness that transpired during his offseason. It started out with his engagement with the aforementioned MLB The Show tweets, which I understand—I’m sure there’s a contract somewhere that says he’s obligated to engage with the account.
— Bryce Harper (@bryceharper3) January 16, 2019
Things got a little exciting when he cryptically tweeted “Loading…”, which many people (myself included) took to mean that he was ready to make his decision. (We were wrong.)
— Bryce Harper (@bryceharper3) February 4, 2019
He then took to Instagram and commented on Phillie Rhys Hoskins’ Instagram at spring training. Personally, I thought that “suhhhh kiiiddd” was short for “suhhheeee you soon kid,” but Harper left us hanging for another two weeks after that comment.
I’m not sure what to make of Bryce holding out for so long. Some say that he was just trying to get the most money; others think he was trying to avoid Philly. All I know is that the posts below this are way better than the ones above.
An #MLBTheShow exclusive! @BHarper3407 chose his colors with the @Phillies, now choose yours: https://t.co/c1vYWCZuaW pic.twitter.com/H5DxWMy7Cc
— MLB The Show (@MLBTheShow) February 28, 2019
Breaking: Bryce to the Phillies
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 28, 2019
Welcome to Philly, Bryce. We hope you like Gritty.