(CBS Philadelphia/CBS Local) — So Bryce Harper got booed in his Philadelphia Phillies debut. Welcome to the city of brotherly love, Bryce. It’s all fun and Gritty t-shirts until the games actually count. And then everything changes.
Harper’s first game was just the latest of Philadelphia sports’ most anticipated debuts. Recent history has given us a few, so let’s take a look, starting with yesterday.
Bryce Harper, Phillies
Expectations were sky high Philadelphia after management promised to spend “stupid money” in the off-season and then inked the top free agent available to a record contract. Bryce Harper, the newly signed $330 million man, debuted in front of the hometown fans yesterday, when the Phillies opened the season against the Atlanta Braves. Harper has played many memorable games, but this one was rather forgettable. He went 0-3 at the plate, striking out twice and grounding out to first; he also walked and scored a run. And while fans cheered his introduction and when he took the field on defense, some also voiced their displeasure after his second strikeout. Harper is currently on pace for 0 home runs and 322 strikeouts (which would make Orioles Chris Davis look like a good investment), but that will likely change this weekend, when the Braves-Phillies series continues.
Joel Embiid, 76ers
The 76ers were coming off a 19-63 season, which included a 26-game losing streak and only four wins after the All-Star break. Trust in the Process would have to be strong, because things would get worse. With the third pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, the team selected Joel Embiid, Kansas’s one-and-done center. He missed the entire 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons due to a broken bone in his foot and the resulting complications. All this is to say that expectations were high when Embiid finally debuted on October 26, 2016 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In 22 minutes, he put up 20 points and pulled down seven rebounds. The 76ers still lost, but the future looked a little brighter.
Ben Simmons, 76ers
The Process was well under way when Ben Simmons came to town. And trust was wearing a little thin. The 76ers had just finished a 10-72 season, among the worst in NBA history. Embiid had yet to play, and Jahlil Okafor, another top pick, had missed the last month of the season with a knee injury. The 76ers selected Ben Simmons with the first pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. The 6’10” point guard broke his foot in preseason practice and missed the 2016-17 season. He played his first regular-season game for the team on October 18, 2017 against the Washington Wizards, contributing 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. The 76ers lost… again, but team had kept pace with a projected Eastern Conference contender.
Carson Wentz, Eagles
The Eagles managed a disappointing 7-9 record in the 2015 season, missing the playoffs. Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez had been inconsistent at quarterback (never mind Chip Kelly’s play-calling), and new coach Doug Pederson needed more from the position. The Eagles selected Carson Wentz out of North Dakota State with the second pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. Wentz debuted in the Eagles 2016 season opener, going 22-37 for two touchdowns and no interceptions. The Eagles beat the hapless Cleveland Browns 29-10.