MLB Rumors: Washington Nationals Out of National League East

Bryce Harper doesn't demonstrate a need to valorize his masculinity by basebrawling or hiding the fact he loves to eat avocado-and-cucumber sandwiches

The Washington Nationals are treating Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper's eighth-inning altercation Sunday a bit more seriously than one would a sibling quarrel. Yes, you want a player to hustle. But emotions ratcheted up when he walked back to the dugout and got an earful from Papelbon, who apparently urged him to run the ball out even if he thought he'd get an out.

Papelbon seemed to retaliate, and Harper seemed to criticize the closer's actions after that game. His Nationals uniform was not hanging at his locker before the game.

Harper will not play on Monday because of his role in the altercation. Desmond tipped his cap to the stands from the dugout, where earlier teammates Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper got into a scuffle. Williams said that he did not know about the altercation after allowing Papelbon back on the mound and there is a chance he would have pulled him out had he realized what happened.

The team also said Papelbon dropped his appeal of a separate three-game suspension issued by Major League Baseball (MLB) for hitting Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles with a pitch last Wednesday.

Washington Nationals General Manager and President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo said that, "The behavior exhibited by Papelbon yesterday is not acceptable".

Washington's final contest at Nationals Park this year was a make-up game.

Greg Fiume  Getty Images

The Washington Nationals added Papelbon for Nick Pivetta, a double-A right-hander from Victoria, B.C., on July 28 when the Nats, everyone's choice as pre-season faves, sat seven games above.500 at 52-45.

"I would have done the same thing if I were Papelbon", one player anonymously told Nitkowski. Papelbon was seen reaching for Harper's throat and shoving the presumptive National League MVP into the wall of the dugout.

After the game, both players downplayed the incident to reporters. With a 79-76 record overall; the Nationals are in second place 9.5 games behind the surprising division champion New York Mets. Machado called Papelbon's antics "coward stuff" and Harper concurred, saying it was "pretty tired". Finally, without ever turning to look at me, he said, "Joel, you can have a [bleep] on your team, but that [bleep] better be Barry Bonds". "It's happened for hundreds of years in this game, and I think it will continue to happen", Papelbon explained. "None supported Harper the most telling response: "(Harper) quit on his team after the fight, just like he does on pop ups". Papelbon has been involved in multiple incidents this season, but finally went one step too far for the Nationals on Sunday.

"We did a lot of due diligence", Rizzo said, "like we do with every player that we acquire at the trade deadline or the draft or anything".


There will be no postseason in 2015 for Papelbon, who sports a 2.13 ERA with 24 saves, or for Harper, who is batting a league-leading.336 with 41 HR and 96 RBI.