A pair of teams fighting for their playoff lives met in Philadelphia on Thursday night, with both the Cubs and Phillies desperately trying to improve their odds of making it into the postseason. They effectively created a playoff atmosphere, and, if last night was any indication, then this October is going to be a doozy.
Chicago led 5-1 entering the night, but four hits, an error, and a hit by pitch brought the Phillies to within two runs, loading the bases for Bryce Harper with one out. This prompted Cubs manager Joe Maddon to bring in lefty Derek Holland, a strategy that looked promising when he got ahead 0-2, but shortly thereafter, not so much.
Harper absolutely destroyed this pitch from Holland. Statcast says the home run traveled 413 feet, but the arc of the flight, way down the right field line, made it seem like Harper hit that ball somewhere into deep space. Phillies analyst John Kruk yelled “OH MY GOD” at the crack of the bat. It was that type of moment.
Harper’s elation as he rounded the bases was also special. Sure, he admired his majestic blast at first but who could blame him? I mean, look at that video and tell me you wouldn’t watch that baseball for as long as humanly possible if you’d hit it. But as Harper got to first base, he accelerated and soon became Usain Bolt, flying around the bases like a man possessed. I thought he might pass Rhys Hoskins before reaching home plate.
Never have I ever seen him do this grinch like sprint but it’s a vibe I never knew I needed. https://t.co/kIYo3kcT9r— Kayla Harper (@kayyharper8) August 16, 2019
Holland saw how fast Harper was speeding around the bases and deferentially waited to cross the foul line until Harper blurred by. This makes sense, as Bryce Harper is now legally Derek Holland’s father and it’s good to be polite to your dad.
Look at the crowd reactions to Harper’s home run. Soak in the folks who immediately knew, and raised their hands in triumph, or held their head in their hands in utter disbelief.
A closer look shows J.T. Realmuto in the on-deck circle starting to realize what Harper just did, and just behind him a young kid with his mouth agape, in awe of the moment.
Sometimes we get too caught up in the numbers of baseball, and I’m as guilty as anyone of this. It’s hard to hear Harper’s name without bringing up the $330 million, 13-year contract he signed as a free agent this winter. While he might not be having exactly the type of season many envisioned in Year 1 of his deal, his grand slam on Thursday washed away a lot disappointment. It’s goosebump-inducing moments like this that make baseball great.
Years from now we might not remember how many strikeouts Harper had this season, or how many home runs, or how badly he mispronounced “meme.” But we will remember this grand slam, which was baseball nirvana.