When Philadelphia Phillies fans think back on Game 3 of the 2023 National League Divisional Series against the Atlanta Braves, they might just remember it as the “Atta Boy Harper Game.”
Bryce Harper hit two home runs, propelling the Phillies to a 10-2 victory that gave them a 2-1 series lead. During both home runs, Harper made sure to locate Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia and stare into his soul. His reason for doing so was because of some comments Arcia reportedly made in the Atlanta locker room following their Game 2 victory. Fox Sports’s Jake Mintz reported that Arcia had mocked Harper while celebrating, saying “Ha-ha, atta-boy, Harper!” repeatedly.
Harper’s repeated staredowns became the story of the night. Asked about it after the game, the Phillies slugger tried to put a jovial spin on it, saying “It’s a game. It’s fun. It’s a lotta fun. That’s what it’s all about.”
However, not a lot of people associated with the Braves seemed to be having much fun with the situation. The Braves radio broadcasters tried to downplay the comments, saying it’s not even confirmed he actually said them.
The Braves radio booth does not approve of Bryce Harper's home run celebrations tonight
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) October 12, 2023
“There was a story attributed to some writer who said he overheard Arcia say something in the locker room that was disparaging about Harper after Game 2,” said Simpson. “There’s no proof that it was even said. Even the writer said he wasn’t sure that’s what he said. But Harper’s taken it to heart and he’s been glaring at Arcia as he rounds second on both homers.”
“That was something that was turned into something that it was never meant to be,” added Powell. “And even if that were the case, okay, so they enjoyed the fact that they doubled-up Harper in the ballgame. Heaven forbid they show joy in doing that. But, when you’re a competitor, you’re looking for anything to drive you. And that’s what Harper has done.”
Arcia did admit Wednesday that he made the comments, though he did so under the impression that what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse. That sentiment is one shared by a lot of different people inside and outside the Braves organization.
“The clubhouse is a sanctuary and I think when things like that get out it doesn’t make people wanna talk to the media at all,” said Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud after the game.
d’Arnaud responded to Arcia’s celebration & the quote heard after the Braves win on Monday. pic.twitter.com/LrzTXi2OcU
— Kelly Crull (@Kelly_Crull) October 12, 2023
In a different interview, d’Arnaud said that Arcia was “joking around” and he feels like when comments like that leak out, it affects the relationship between the players and the media members who spend a lot of time in the locker room.
The Braves drop Game 3 in Philly. And the #Braves react to the Orlando Arcia locker room comments that were shared without him knowing.
Take a moment to listen to Braves Travis D’Arnaud and Matt Olson in my postgame report from #citizensbankpark . #AsOneATL pic.twitter.com/bXA83IMZCr
— Alison Mastrangelo (@AlisonWSB) October 12, 2023
Brave first baseman Matt Olson told reporters that he wasn’t going to “comment much on gossip in the clubhouse.” Meanwhile, through a translator, Arcia told reporters Wednesday night that he didn’t think much of the comments when he made them and “when you’re in the clubhouse, I was under the impression you could say whatever you wanted,” adding “[Harper] wasn’t supposed to hear. That was why we were talking in the clubhouse.”
"He wasn't supposed to hear."
Orlando Arcia discusses his comments made about Bryce Harper in the clubhouse after Game 2: pic.twitter.com/n9U3PS3sVr
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 12, 2023
That sentiment, that the clubhouse is a safe space for MLB players to speak their minds freely without concern for it being reported, was shared by at least one local media member.
“[Arcia], along with many other Braves players, did not know what was being said in the locker room at that time was on the record,” wrote Fox 5 Atlanta sports reporter Miles Garrett on X. “The media and players have a trust about what is on the record and what is not. Whoever this person is, did in fact violate that trust.”
Mintz had stood by his reporting on the quote and hasn’t commented on the reaction as of yet. While Phillies fans and Braves fans are going to have very clear opinions on the matter, it’s certainly possible to see both sides here. On one hand, it’s understandable that players might want to feel like their locker room is a place where they can let loose with teammates and feel like what they say and do is not for public consumption. On the other hand, professional athletes have long had to come to the reality that anytime there are media members around, they’re there to work and report on what you say and do.
By all accounts, it sounds like Arcia’s comments have been blown out of proportion in the name of DISRESPEKT. But then again, that’s how it tends to work.