Bryce Harper of course left the Nationals last offseason in order to sign a $330 million contract with the division-rival Phillies. Harper's first season in Philly was productive (35 home runs and a 125 in 157 games) while still not being quite up to his career standards. The Nationals, meantime, recovered from a slow start to make the postseason and then battle their way to the first World Series in franchise history.
Obviously, that the Nats achieved unprecedented success in their first post-Harper season has led a number of observers to confuse correlation and causation. Whether the Nationals would've made the World Series with Harper on the roster is unknowable, but he's a much better player than Adam Eaton, who replaced him in right field in Washington. Of course, the Nats probably wouldn't have signed Patrick Corbin if they'd been able to re-up with Harper, so there's a discussion to be had around allocation of resources. In any event, how Harper views the success of his former team is a source of ongoing curiosity, and Jayson Stark of The Athletic went straight to the source to find out. Here's a sampling :
Was he jealous, in any way, of all those guys spraying champagne in his old locker room?
"No," Harper said again, without a millisecond's hesitation, "because like I said, I made my decision, and that was my decision. And it was the final decision that I made. You know, jealousy isn't good. For me, it's about having the gratitude to go out and do what I do each day and not having an attitude towards anybody else.
"I think it's about being able to be the person that I am," he went on, "and not saying to myself, `Oh my gosh, I can't believe I'm not a National.' Or, `Oh my gosh, those guys are doing what they're doing. I can't believe it. I'm so jealous.' No. I'm so happy for them. You know how hard it is to get into the postseason and win games. For them to be able to put it together this year the way they have, it's an amazing thing."
Stark's story has much more from Harper and also some words from Harper's former teammate in D.C., Jayson Werth, so be sure to give it a full read.
As for the excerpt above, this is Harper saying the right things. He was a Nationals lifer before signing with the Phillies -- the Nats drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick back in 2010 -- and he necessarily has a long history with a number of players still on the roster. He's a human being, so on some level there probably is a bit of envy, but it may be nothing more than what's present in any big league ballplayer whose team didn't make it to the World Series.
Also bear in mind that Harper mere days ago turned 27. The narrative of his career is far from being fully written, and it's entirely possible he's going to wind up being regarded as a championship player. For now, though, he's taking the proper approach to what's unfolding in his old city and with his former team.