If there were any question about how the Nationals fans would greet Bryce Harper on his return to Washington, they would receive a good response before the first pitch. A tribute video, which usually inspires warm fuzzies, before the grudge begins, was played on the scoreboard and booed vociferously. Then Harper himself was booed. And booed and booed and booed.
"I heard the boos," said Harper, "and I just remembered that there were 45,000 people and more in the city of Philadelphia who shouted cheering at their TVs." However, some Philly fans were not in front of their TV sets, or even in Philadelphia. Some of them, maybe a couple of thousands, were in the National Park. You could see them in the crowd if you looked close enough, but you really could not hear them yet. Not about the boos. But they could wait.
The rain helped, delayed the game 41 minutes and pushed the final much closer to the time when the Metro would stop working. However, the Phillies' offense did the most, chasing after Max Scherzer after five and then hitting the bullpen for a Phillies 8-2 victory. And Harper? Yes, he can hit in C. (we already knew that). Harper had 3 of 5, including a home run and three RBI.
It was Harper's single in the sixth inning that made the game 6-0, and he sent a bunch of Nationals fans drenched and shot down in the direction of the exits. So when Harper ran into right field by the end of the inning, most of the Phillies fans stayed to greet him.
And by the eighth, when the stadium was even more empty for Nats fans, Harper's two-run player sounded like he was performing before a local audience.
How about that excellent bat flip? "It's the thrill of the game," Harper said. "That's it, that's all."
By the end, the rest of the audience was no longer even slightly mixed. It was just fans of the Phillies singing MVP, and the Phillies exchanged handshakes after winning, and there was Harper, again on the field in Washington, but this time on courts, only the first of many, many times in the next 13 years.