Some of Bryce Harper’s teammates and opponents viewed his routine before each at-bat, which included putting pine tar on his bat and checking the condition of his cleats, as arrogant. Even on a peaceful August afternoon, Harper never failed to play his walk-up song, which included a few easily recognizable notes.
— MLB (@MLB) October 23, 2022
On Tuesday night, he strolled from the on-deck circle to home plate at the perfect pace, allowing the furious crowd to settle down before Moby’s “Flower” brought him into the most significant stage he had ever stepped foot on.
The first pitch was a curveball, and the next swing sent the ball soaring into the right-center field seats for a two-run homer that seemed to confirm the postseason celebrations were still going strong. With four home runs and a shutout, the Phillies won 7-0 and took a 2-1 series lead.
Bryce Harper’s “punch first,” according to Rhys Hoskins, who hit one of the Phillies’ five home runs against Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr., energized the crowd. Nonstop.
It wasn’t until Tuesday night that this city finally hosted a World Series game after Harper’s selection in 2009. From left to right: Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels, who all caught ceremonial first pitches for their respective clubs in 2009. Despite not expecting to, Philadelphia was prepared to host the World Series this year.
Harper, his smile returning, continued, “Just coming inside the stadium, just being back home, I think is such a momentum swing for us.” They always show up, and we know there will be 46,000 fans here shouting, chanting, and going wild,” the player added. “We all come here ready to go, happy to get on the field.”
The Philadelphia Phillies’ carefree style seems tailor-made for this passionate metropolis. Kyle Schwarber raced out to left field and motioned for the crowd to roar as loud as they could by pointing, waving, and placing a hand over his ear. To play to their strengths, the Phillies should have made their first World Series trip in 13 years against the Houston Astros, the most boo-able team in Major League Baseball.
When José Altuve entered the batter’s box to open the game, he didn’t give the other players much time to welcome him. He hit Ranger Suárez’s first pitch for a home run into short right field, where slugger Nick Castellanos, a poor defender, was stationed. As he did in Game 1 of the World Series and throughout October, Castellanos made a great sliding catch to deny Altuve a hit. As the right field crowd applauded, he stood up.
Harper always appeared suited to theatrics like leisurely walks to home plate, M-V-P chants, and big-game home runs. The perfect homer, the astonishing World Series lead, and the total enchantment of a metropolitan region are not easily achieved.