‘We all needed to hear that’: Inside Bryce Harper’s speech to the Phillies after their historic loss to the Mets
Harper's meeting lasted no longer than a minute, but the 2021 NL MVP made his point.
Bryce Harper walked into the Phillies clubhouse Thursday night, not long after his team’s bullpen had blown a 7-1 lead to the Mets in the ninth inning. It was one of their worst losses in recent memory, and his teammates were still reeling from it. So Harper decided to hold a players-only meeting.
The meeting lasted no longer than a minute, but the 2021 NL MVP got to his point quickly.
“He basically said this doesn’t define us,” third baseman Alec Bohm said. “Obviously, nobody wants that to happen. This sucks right now, but we can’t let it affect tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day. We play 162 games. If we waste a couple of games because we’re feeling bad about how Thursday went, that’s not a good recipe for success.
“It was one of those situations where we needed to hear something. I think we all needed to hear that.”
Thursday’s night loss to their division rivals marked the Phillies’ fourth straight defeat and their fifth loss in their past six games. The Phillies are now 11-15 and seven games behind the first-place Mets in the NL East standings. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Phillies’ loss Thursday was only the fifth time in their 140-season history in which they’d lost after leading by at least six runs in the ninth inning or later.
Outfielder Matt Vierling described the team as “in shock” after Thursday’s loss but said Harper’s words resonated with them, especially since they came from a team leader. Harper, through a team PR representative, declined to comment on his postgame speech.
“He believes in this team,” Vierling said. “He knows how good we are. This kind of stuff happens. He said it’s time for us to put it behind us and move on.”
It’s likely that no one felt Thursday’s ninth inning collapse more than reliever James Norwood, who allowed four hits and four earned runs (including one home run) in just one-third of an inning pitched. Norwood struggled to locate his pitches in that outing. He was trying to hit the corners, but instead, found his pitches crossing over the middle of the plate and low in the zone.
“Instead of throwing to my strengths, I was focusing on hitting the glove,” he said of his outing Thursday. “Next time I’m going to approach it just using my strengths. I know where I need to throw my stuff for it to work well. The way my fastball works, I have to get it up in the zone and instead of just focusing over the middle of my the plate, maybe up in the zone and on the corners more. With my splitter, to lefties it works better where it’s arm side and low, and to righties, it would be glove side and low.
“Harper said stuff like this is going to happen, and it’s true. It’s about how we take it and how we move forward. Just use it to build and not go backwards.”