Nationals Eliminate Bryce Harper, Phillies from Playoff Contention with 4-1 Win

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2019

Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper walks off the field in the first inning of the first baseball game of a doubleheader against the Washington Nationals, Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

Sometimes things come full circle in sports. 

The Philadelphia Phillies signed right fielder Bryce Harper this offseason after he spent the first seven years of his career with the Washington Nationals and appeared well on their way to a potential playoff run. However, Washington eliminated the Phillies from postseason contention with a 4-1 victory in the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader.

The irony of Washington eliminating Harper from playoff contention was not lost on the fans at Nationals Park. Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press reported the elimination came to the "delight of fans," who booed the six-time All-Star and former Washington star in each of his at-bats. 

Tuesday represented more than just an opportunity for Washington to knock Harper out of the playoffs.

A victory in the second game of the doubleheader paired with a loss by the Chicago Cubs at the Pittsburgh Pirates would clinch a postseason spot for the Nationals. It would be the fifth time in eight years Washington reached the playoffs, although it missed out in Harper's final season with the team in 2018.

The Nationals will have to play in the National League Wild Card Game, likely against the Milwaukee Brewers, because the Atlanta Braves have been a dominant force in the NL East all season.

They have an 8.5-game lead over the Nationals and 16.5-game lead over the fourth-place Phillies.

"Obviously, it's disappointing," Philadelphia first baseman Rhys Hoskins said of his team's position in the standings, per Fendrich. "You set out at the beginning of the year, the beginning of the offseason, spring training, whatever it may be, with the goal in mind, right? And obviously we've come up short this year."

This is surely not what Harper envisioned when he signed a 13-year deal with the Phillies this offseason. He still has plenty of time to help lead Philadelphia to the postseason like he did multiple times in Washington, but his old team is on the way to October baseball while he has a long offseason in store.