It is safe to assume that Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon won’t be sharing a golf cart this offseason. Even though the Washington Nationals will be hitting the golf course early because they surprised everyone and failed to make the playoffs, Harper and Papelbon will probably both be seething after coming to blows in the dugout on Sunday.
The incident started when Harper hit a pop up to shallow left field in the eighth inning and failed to run it out to Papelbon’s satisfaction. FOX Sports is reporting that as Harper came back to the dugout Papelbon started jawing and that quickly escalated to the two shoving one another and then Papelbon choking Harper. The two were soon separated and the game continued.
In the ninth, Papelbon, who had entered the game in the eighth inning, gave up five runs and didn’t make it out of the inning as the Nationals gave up eight runs in the ninth and collected another loss. Papelbon was heartily booed by the Washington crowd as he left the field. As for Harper, he was replaced in the lineup before the ninth inning began.
Watching the fisticuffs, one comes away with a few questions. First is a closer the one who should be chirping at an everyday player about not hustling. A closer comes in and throws 20 pitches on a tough day and then hits the showers. Second, should Papelbon, a guy who just joined the team a couple of months ago, be dressing down the likely National League Most Valuable Player. If Papelbon really had a problem maybe he should have pulled the 22-year-old Harper aside, away from the cameras, and chatted with him.
Both Papelbon and Harper have had their problems in the past and the latest happened earlier this week when Papelbon hit Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles intentionally. Harper questioned the intelligence of Papelbon’s move and told the Washington Post that he felt he would be in the Orioles crosshairs because of it.
“I mean, Manny freaking hit a homer and walked it off and somebody drilled him. It’s pretty tired. It’s one of those situations where it happens. I don’t know. I’ll probably get drilled tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.”
Well Harper didn’t get plunked, but the league did suspend Papelbon three games for his actions, a suspension he is appealing. After Sunday’s antics he may be facing a team suspension as well.
This is just another low in a lost season for the Nationals and another sign that manager Matt Williams has lost this clubhouse. There will probably be many changes in Washington during the offseason and Williams may be the first change to take place.
Who do you think was in the wrong in this Bryce Harper versus Jonathan Papelbon fracas?
[Image by Greg Fiume/Getty Images]