Twitter is the most negative corner of the Internet, in my opinion. Its short bursts of 140 characters tend to be long on outrage, and media sources are constant targets. ...
I reached out to Lee [Judge], who it should be noted has also been a political cartoonist for The Star for some 30 years. He’s well accustomed to expressing provocative opinions, sometimes in blunt language. His reply, in which he stands by what he wrote:
Judging the Royals is an inside look at big league baseball; it not only deals with how the game is played, it also reveals some of the game’s unwritten rules. In today’s column I said that if Jonathan Papelbon wanted to choke Bryce Harper, he should have done it in private. Ballplayers have scuffles and arguments more often than fans know, but those scuffles and arguments are supposed to take place out of the public eye. Whether fans like it or not, baseball players throw at each other, do takeout slides on each other and sometimes fight with each other. When they do those things, there’s a right way to do it and that’s what today’s column was about.
My own opinion is that a blog may be a place for frank ruminations on these sorts of topics, and I find some of the Twitter hand-wringing disingenuously genteel. You hear stuff far less considered than this every day on sports talk radio and — for crying out loud — from well-known voices on Twitter itself.
The Nationals acted on Monday after a dugout altercation between two of their players on Sunday. Washington announced that closer Jonathan Papelbon has been suspended for four games without pay after his confrontation with outfielder Bryce Harper in Sunday’s game’s against the Phillies.
The Nationals also said that Papelbon has elected to drop his appeal of a suspension issued by Major League Baseball last stemming from his actions in a game on Wednesday against Baltimore. Papelbon was sanctioned for three games for throwing at third baseman Manny Machado. Papelbon will begin serving his MLB suspension on Monday and his Nationals suspension on Thursday.
A different take and some great points by CJ Nitkowski. Papelbon is a wildcard but Harper seems like the kind of guy who, if he doesn’t change, won’t be around long when his talent starts to diminish.
Papelbon is everybody’s favorite punching bag but it’s not deserved here. This is a game that governs itself; it always has and always will. No one is above giving his full effort every time. When you don’t, there will be a veteran teammate there waiting to remind you. Sometimes that might result in a fight and that’s OK. This is not your office.
Yes, Harper risked a reaction—and elicited an overreaction—first by failing to run, then by appearing to tell Papelbon, “let’s go,” after Pap confronted him. Tell another player, “let’s go,” and maybe he drops it or resumes the discussion later. Utter those words to a pit bull— er, Papelbon—and it’s game on.
Whatever, Papelbon vs. Harper was a mere symptom of the larger disease. This is the fourth straight year that the Nats’ season will end in disappointment, even though in two of those seasons they won 96 and 98 games.
New manager needed. New players. And uh, a better marketing phrase, too.
Of course, the ruckus started in the Nats’ favorite inning for disasters involving relievers: the eighth. Why rewrite a polished script? The bullpen’s trashed everything else this year, why not fight the likely NL MVP? Fan Appreciation Day, indeed.
After the game, the Nats had their annual “Shirts Off Their Backs” promotion with each player handing his game-worn jersey to a contest-winning fan. The Nats should make sure two fans receive the first authenticated brawl-used jerseys ever.
An hour after the game, the outfield was filled with fans who took instruction in “Yoga in the Park.” Yes, to improve their serenity. No Nationals participated. ...
On Saturday, after elimination, Williams encountered a century-old ritual for every manager — face the music. What does it all mean, Matt? Now that it’s over, own up: share your analysis or feelings. Or just change expression.
“We have to win tomorrow,” said Williams.
No, you don’t. You’re mathematically dead. Would the captain of the Titanic say, “We have to put that iceberg behind us and get ready for tomorrow”?
Now the 2015 Nationals take their place in a dark D.C. corner with the 2000 Redskins, who boasted of their Super Bowl chances after signing future Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith. Also in that dunce-cap row sit the 2009-10 Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals, who lost in the first round of the playoffs to the team with the 16th-best point total in the NHL in the regular season.
Williams has become the symbol of the season. But the Lerner family who own the team, General Manager Mike Rizzo and $168 million worth of players must bear most of the brunt.
If a team ever needed to look at its issues honestly, while not forgetting its strengths, it’s the Nats now. Organizational culture — whether one of accountability and candor or merely of best-face rationalization — has enormous cumulative impact that can last decades, as Dan Snyder’s NFL team has shown.
A dumbass gets suspended for being a dumbass. Good.
MLB’s ruling, made by senior vice president of standards and on-field operations Joe Garagiola Jr., cited Papelbon “throwing a pitch in the head area” of Machado in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game, an offense the league office takes seriously.
The incident occurred two innings after Machado hit a towering, 2-run homer off Max Scherzer that gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Baltimore’s All-Star third baseman admired the home run and took 26.61 seconds to round the bases, according to Tater Trot Tracker, though Scherzer and Nationals manager Matt Williams said they took no issue with Machado’s reaction.
Papelbon, though, threw a first-pitch fastball near Machado’s head with two outs in the top of the ninth. After a slider away, his again threw a fastball high-and-tight, this time hitting Machado in the left shoulder. Plate umpire Mark Ripperger immediately ejected the right-hander. Both benches emptied, but neither side engaged in any real activities.
“It’s something that’s uncalled for,” Machado said afterward. “It’s [garbage]. It’s something that you don’t do. I expect more from a guy like that, with the past that he has. You’ve just got to go out there and keep playing baseball. It’s part of the game. If you can’t take the heat, just stay out of the kitchen and just go on from it. You don’t throw at somebody’s head. I think that’s [garbage]. I think we’ve just got to keep playing baseball.”
Papelbon didn’t admit he threw at Machado on purpose but didn’t deny the accusation, either.
“They just said they deemed it intentional. They didn’t give me any reason,” he said. “I don’t know if they have to give me a reason or not. But perception is reality. If Manny thinks I hit him, then that’s what he thinks. I’m not going to sit here and go back and forth whether I did or whether I didn’t, cause it doesn’t matter. If he thinks I did, that’s what he thinks.”
Papelbon didn’t receive much support from within the Nationals clubhouse after the game, with right fielder and presumptive NL MVP Bryce Harper publicly calling his teammate out and questioning whether he’d be the subject of retaliation from the Orioles the following day.
“I mean, Manny freaking hit a homer and walked it off, and somebody drilled him,” Harper said. “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.”
“I don’t know if I got a bad rap here or whatever, but I can promise you I was far [from] the bad guy on this team,” Papelbon said before Monday night’s game. “I was one of the few that wanted to actually win, and I was one of the few that competed and posted up every day.”
That’s pretty harsh criticism, accusing former teammates of not wanting to win and of not competing.
Papelbon would not name the teammates that he believed did not “post up” every day. When pressed, he essentially generalized his comments and pointed to the team’s rebuild and the coming and going of young players.
“I say it as a team,” Papelbon said. “If you don’t have a team atmosphere that’s put together that coincides with winning, you know?
“You’ve got one guy going down to Triple A, one guy’s coming back from Triple A next week. You’ve got different positions every week. That to me wasn’t a formula for winning, you know? We just had too many non-regular guys in there, and granted, we did get hurt, but we didn’t have the personnel, the leadership, the A to Z to win. It was felt all throughout the clubhouse and it was felt all throughout the stadium, I believe.”
Who gets the blame for that?
“I think the blame goes all the way from the front office all the way down to the bat boy,” Papelbon said. “When you don’t have an organization that wants to win, it’s pretty evident and they go out and publicly say, ‘We’re not going to win.’ So what more, you know what I mean?”
Papelbon was asked why he did not try to lead more during his time with the Phillies.
“I did. I did. I tried to do certain things,” he said. “I tried to bring certain things to attention that would make us better and it just seemed like everything I brought to attention whether it would be with another veteran or pitcher or infielder or outfielder or another veteran guy, it was like, to me, I was never accepted in that, ‘Hey look, this guy wants to help our team and make us be better,’ way. They just kind of all let it fly by the wayside and never really paid attention to what I had to say.”
Storen reacts like expected. Storen and Papelbon have one thing other thing in common, neither of them are team first players.
Storen didn’t sound like a guy who was happy about the change.
“All I’m going to say is, I’m aware of the move and I’ve talked to Mike about it. I’ve talked to my agent about it,” Storen said. “We’ve had some ongoing discussions. Until those have progressed, I’m just going to leave it at that. No comment for now. But as the situation goes, I’ll keep you guys posted.”