Washington Post – After Sunday’s game, in which Jonathan Papelbon grabbed Bryce Harper by the throat during an eighth-inning altercation, Nationals Manager Matt Williams was asked why he sent a pitcher who had just attacked the team’s star player back into the game to pitch the ninth inning. “He’s our closer,” Williams said tersely, an explanation that was widely criticized and held up to ridicule afterward. Late Sunday, in the face of mounting criticism for his move, Williams took the unusual step of calling reporters to offer a revised explanation. The reason he sent Papelbon back in, Williams said, was that he didn’t know the details of the fight that took place just a few feet from him in the dugout. He was at the other end of the dugout, Williams said, near the steps closest to the clubhouse tunnel, where he normally stands, when the fight broke out. It was a quick fight, over within five to six seconds, and separated by teammates. Harper left the game and didn’t return in the top of the ninth. Williams did not explain why he did not send Harper back out for the ninth. Williams said he knew an incident happened but didn’t know how serious it was. TV footage showed Papelbon talking to Harper as Harper walked into the dugout, then the two players shouting at each other and then the incident escalating when Papelbon grabbed Harper by the throat, leading to the two players wrestling. Immediately after the game, Williams said, he went to the jersey giveaway for fans, where players and coaches present their jersey on the field to season ticket holders. Then, Williams said, he went to the press conference room to speak with reporters. After seeing the footage, Williams said Papelbon’s behavior was not acceptable for the team.
Listen I’m not here to gloat. I’m not here to talk about how Bryce Harper was asking for his World Series ring before the season started, how everyone touted the Nats as the best pitching staff in baseball, and then the Mets beat them in 155 game rather handily despite having a minor league lineup half the season and then giving them about 9 chances over the first 3 weeks of September to get back into it. I’m not here to talk about how Harper completely choked against the Mets all season in every matchup. I’m not here to talk about how every deadline move Sandy made worked like a charm and the Phillies decided to bring in this psychopath maniac as their big move to bolster their team. Thats not why I am here.
I’m here to talk about this strictly from a baseball point of view. If the Nats dont boot Williams right now and cut Papelbon, I cant take them seriously anymore. I mean to be honest no matter what happens this post season, I expect a big bounce back season from the Nats in 2016. But not if they dont show me something right here. I mean the term Pres always throws around busting balls about Ohio State is “institutional chaos.” There is straight up INSTITUTIONAL CHAOS in DC. Saturday you have guys celebrating walk offs after being eliminated, Sunday you have a goddam lunatic psychopath who’s been on the team for like 15 minutes physically attack the franchise cornerstone. Matt Williams who has been dreadful all season long literally has zero control over this team. I mean how can a GM or owner not fire him instantaneously? On what planet does a franchise ordinarily need to worry about the physical safety of maybe the best player in baseball while he’s in his own dugout??? On Planet Williams, thats where. Where he says he doesnt even know there was a fight! And then trots Pap out there in the 9th to give up a 2 run dinger! I mean in the matter of like 5 minutes you saw all the evidence you needed to know that this dude cant manage a team on or off the field, in drastically embarrassing fashion. I honestly think he’s trying to get fired at this point. He’s acting like a dude in his cube who’s already put in his 2 weeks and just DGAF.
And as for Papelbon there is really no doubt he should be axed right this minute. They should have taken his jersey from him right then and there. The team should have thrown a fuckin Blanket Party on him on the spot. If some dickhead, scumbag rental attacks The Franchise like that, he should get his ass beat. If some nobody went for David Wright’s throat I think he’d be dead in the dugout. Let alone go back on the field! I can understand just letting Williams finish the week out before firing him but Papelbon should be released with 7 games to go. Complete psychopath that did nothing but ruin this teams bullpen and then assault the league MVP. Cut that dude on the spot or your team is a joke.
PS – Both the Chocolate Sauce Walk Off and the Dugout Choke-Out would be talked about for the next decade if it were the Mets.