11:54 PM ET Seventy minutes after hitting the two-run home ball that gave the Philadelphia Phillies the National League Championship Series on Sunday, Bryce Harper was in the middle of the clubhouse with his teammates as beer and champagne were sprayed on anybody nearby.
The series MVP yelled to his squad, “Give me all of it, give me all of it.” His hope was immediately fulfilled as beer rained down on him from all sides.
The fact that Harper created the event that advanced his Phillies to the World Series and placed him at the center of the celebration was only appropriate. Since the day in 2019 when he committed to the city for 13 years when owner John Middleton wrote a $330 million check to lure him to Philadelphia, he has served as the face of the team.
Harper has always loved Philadelphia, despite the many times he may have wondered if he made the correct decision to move there as a free agent after leaving Washington. Even after the Washington Nationals, his former team, won the World Series in 2019. Even when Philadelphia changed general managers and managers multiple times during their rocky first four years with the team, such as when Rob Thomson replaced Joe Girardi this season after the team’s 22-29 start.
With his MVP award next to him, Harper stated after the game, “I don’t enjoy looking back.” I enjoy looking ahead and making progress. What have you done for me lately is the name of this game.
He never wavered in his belief in Middleton’s assurance that the company would always prioritize winning.
Soon after the Sunday home run, the star and owner met on the field amidst the commotion of the party. Their embrace lasted longer than the ball’s flight, which left the field at 108.9 mph. Middleton was questioned regarding the significance of the embrace.
You can bet it did, he said. “$330 million later, and mutual commitments to winning and going above and beyond to win.” He executed that.
Harper’s home run, which advanced Philadelphia to the World Series for the first time since 2009, made the Phillies’ investment in him as well as the free agent signings of Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos this spring justified. Both players saw Harper’s home run firsthand, Schwarber from the dugout and Castellanos from the on-deck circle. The dugout rail looked like I was doing an exorcism, Schwarber remarked in the beer-stained locker room. Man, the guy is evil.
Castellanos was struck by how dissimilar the celebration was from the one that followed Harper’s walk-off home run against his Cubs three years prior.
Castellanos remarked that the manner he went around the bases “in 2019” was “wild and energetic.” He was the stadium’s most composed spectator this evening. I consider that to be significant growth on his part.
“Watching him tonight taught me a valuable lesson,” I said. It was f—-ing amazing how he was able to focus on the present and remain composed. Use those words exactly, please.
The aim when Castellanos and Schwarber joined with Philadelphia days apart after the lockout was to give Harper some much-needed thump around his own power bat in the lineup—a clubhouse cluttered with empty Budweiser and champagne bottles.
Since being selected by Detroit in the 2010 draft, Castellanos has been searching for the winning club, and he has finally found it. He has had three champagne celebrations only this month, breaking a postseason series drought of ten major baseball seasons.
When asked what he had discovered about Harper this season, Castellanos replied, “We both want to win so much. “That’s one thing we share,” she said.
Schwarber has never had a problem with winning. All throughout his career, he has done it wherever he has been. Schwarber has participated in six league championship series for three different clubs and has been hailed as the greatest glue guy in the Phillies clubhouse during this postseason. But in 2016, when the Chicago Cubs won the World Series, he was injured and missed his career’s lone pennant-clinching victory. Up until this point, he had never experienced a full playoff.
He remarked, “It was cool for me,” on Sunday as he took cigar puffs. It has been amazing to be with them for the entire year, from day one. The last time I was in Chicago, I was depressed for an entire year.
First baseman Rhys Hoskins, who has played for the Phillies for the longest, also experienced this first. If not for Harper’s heroics, Hoskins would have won the MVP award for this series with four home runs in five games, but he couldn’t make himself to care about that as he celebrated his first pennant victory.
After the game, Hoskins exclaimed on the field, “It’s a dream.” “This organization gave me the chance to have a positive impact on the city of Philadelphia in any manner I could,” the individual said.
After years of disappointment, Harper’s arrival made it clear to Hoskins that the team was serious about winning. Hoskins had never participated in a postseason game before to this season; instead, he had to listen to tales of triumph about previous teams. Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, and Shane Victorino—all players of the team’s 2008 World Series-winning squad—were always watching down from the seats as he glanced up at the video scoreboard during this series.
Once Harper arrived, the desire to succeed those prior players as champs became a reality. Hoskins wasn’t shocked that Harper made the crucial play to get him there in the end.
Hoskins remarked, “It’s probably something he’s been thinking about since since he picked up a bat.” It has been some while. He had to adjust to a new organization after moving to a new city. It’s truly amazing how he came through in that situation.
Later, while still holding his MVP award, Harper enjoyed a moment with actor Miles Teller, a die-hard Phillies fan, in a hallway beneath the stands behind home plate. The squad isn’t content with merely winning the pennant; there are still four games left to win, he added while sitting in the media room. Instead of preparing to leave for Game 6 across the nation, Harper appeared to be most at ease in the clubhouse, where he let beer to be spilled on him while celebrating the series’ conclusion.
He admitted, “I didn’t want to board the trip back to San Diego.” I just didn’t want to board a flight that would last 52 hours. I wanted to stay at home and take it all in with these people, this group, and this fan base.
Harper is the reason why the Phillies will play in the World Series. His bravery allowed the home crowd to enjoy the victory at their ballpark because this is his team and now his city.