by Alex Poletti
Realizing he backed the wrong horse at the beginning of the 2019 season, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper tried to sneak back into the clubhouse of his former team, the Washington Nationals, as they played the third game of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Hey, I’ve been here the whole time, just stopping to get some water,” Harper said nonchalantly as he took a seat at the end of the bench in the third inning of today’s action. “What a great season we’ve been having, huh? Glad I could be here for the whole thing.”
The Nationals were quick to catch on to Harper’s scheme. After a half inning of play, the dugout recalled the year they had and remembered how Harper-less it all was.
“At first, I just thought Bryce was back from a break,” 20-year-old phenom Juan Soto says. “But then I remembered that we had been hustling all season and not a single one of our closers had been choked. Once that came back, I knew Bryce was trying to break in.”
After losing their biggest star, the Nationals were not considered favorites by many analysts in the NL East. Atlanta’s young core was impressive, and the deadly combination of Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins was too exciting for statisticians and predictors to pass up. Harper putting up average numbers and a Hollister model managing the team instead of a real coach put a damper on the year, causing the Phillies to finish at 81-81, just one game better than the year prior.
Meanwhile, the Nationals experienced a resurgence en route to a Wild Card berth, thanks to outstanding seasons from the starting rotation and third baseman Anthony Rendon.
“Remember that prank I pulled on you guys when I said I signed with Philadelphia?” Harper continued to an increasingly skeptical team. “I really got you all. I had to commit for the bit, which is why I spent so much time over there.”
In the fifth inning, Bryce Harper was removed from the dugout by security. He returned in a Bobby Valentine-inspired disguise later in the game, this time as bat boy Harper Bryce.
“I’m just a lowly bat boy supporting this team,” Harper said in a higher-pitched voice. “Bat boys get rings too, right? Just making sure here.”