Why Nats Fans Should Boo Bryce Harper

By Jim Kessler

When Bryce Harper returns to Washington in a Phillies uniform on April 2nd, should Nats fans cheer in appreciation for the seven years of stardom or boo him for the treasonous act of playing for the enemy? The answer is to boo him. Boo him every at-bat and every lazy fly ball he fields in right. Boo him in year one of his contract and boo him in year thirteen. Boo him until your lungs burn, your face turns purple, and until stadium medics put a paper bag over your mouth from hyperventilation.

Do it for the treachery. Do it for the overpriced Harper jersey you bought for your kid. But most important, do it to bring a world series championship to Washington. Because what the Nationals need most is not a back-of-the-rotation starter or a middle-of-the-order bat; what we need is an enraged and passionate fan base that puts the wrath of Khan into opposing teams and overly comfortable, mail-it-in hometown players.

I’ve been a partial Nats season ticket holder since the team moved to South Capitol Street. I love the stadium. The food is pretty good. And it’s nice I can go with my daughter and she won’t get hit with a projectile, watch a guy get sucker punched for wearing a Mets cap, or hear screaming profanity from irate fans (with the occasional exception of her dad). But enough is enough. The professional class who make up the attending fan base needs to loosen their ties, get off their Instagram accounts, place their craft beers in the convenient cup holders in the seat in front and SCREAM FOR GOD’s SAKE.

Bryce Harper has given us his final gift to do so. He left. For greed. For the almighty dollar. At a price he could have gotten to stay here. And he’s gone to our worst enemy. One hundred thirty-four miles up I-95 to Citizens Bank Park and those arrogant Phillies. It’s worse than your spouse cheating on you with your best friend; it’s your spouse cheating on you with the boss you hate. That’s primal scream stuff. But it’s also how the Nats can win a championship.

By way of background, I was born and raised in Philadelphia and then spent the next ten years in Boston. So as a fan, I was raised right. I booed my hometown also-rans and stars (I’m talking to you Mike Schmidt). I booed out of love, hate, and frustration. But mostly it was passion — of living and dying with every infield pop-up that stranded a runner on third base with less than two out. And I was unmerciful to our foes along with the other 30,000 fire breathers who showed up that night.

And it paid off. Thanks to us, we won a few championships. Ok, maybe I’m taking a bit too much credit, but we had a job to do and we did it. Listen, if you can’t handle a chorus of boos from your fanatical hometown crowd, good luck with that Clayton Kershaw heater in Game Six of the playoffs. We prepared our teams for the pressure to win the ring. So to those who I booed … you’re welcome.

Let’s bring that passion to Washington and our comfortable baseball team. For the first time, Nationals fans can truly feel what it’s like to be betrayed. Use that betrayal to become the fans other teams fear when they enter the park. Let’s stop going easy on our own players, because they all could get a little bit tougher. And by all means, boo Bryce Harper. You can be sure Phillie fans will.

(Jim Kessler lives in Washington, DC and is the person you don’t want to sit next to at a ballgame.)