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Bryce Harper is willing to break his body to win the hearts of Phillies fans

Bryce Harper and the city of Philadelphia have been on a bit of a roller coaster ride so far this season.

There was the dream debut, part baseball game, part block party, full of Phanatic socks and raucous ovations and lots of elaborate choreography (and, of course, a curtain call). There was the beeftastic return to D.C., in which Harper and a few thousand of his new best friends stared down the makeshift shirts and the wonderfully petty tweets and proceeded to bat flip all over Nationals Park anyway.

Of course, every honeymoon phase must eventually come to an end, and sure enough, the ride got a little bumpy. The team started slumping. Harper started striking out. Everybody started getting antsy, and because this is Philadelphia we're talking about, that angst resulted in some boo birds at Citizens Bank Park. (It's here that I would point out that 13 years is a pretty long time, were I that type of person.)

But Bryce, to his credit, hasn't wavered. He hasn't gotten defensive, or lashed out, or even complained. You get the sense that Harper not only still loves his new digs, but that in a weird way, he loves it even more: To boo is to care, after all, and one of the most self-demanding athletes in sports has found a city that lives and dies with everything. (As he pointed out recently: Based on the last couple weeks, he'd boo himself too.)

No, Harper is all in. He's seen what it's like when Philly loves you, and he'll do whatever it takes -- up to and including repeatedly risking bodily harm, like he did not once but twice on Tuesday night.

Rather than shy away from the rapidly encroaching outfield fence, Harper slid right into it, bending his leg back and getting up with a noticeable limp. Then, two batters later, he did it again, like a gladiator demanding to know whether the crowd is entertained. There will be plenty more booing and consternation over the next 13 years, but never forget that these two are absolutely perfect for each other -- and endlessly fun for the rest of us.

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