Earlier today, Jonathan Papelbon was suspended by the Washington Nationals for allegedly trying to choke out their best player, Bryce Harper. This is the same Bryce Harper who is a frontrunner for the National League MVP this year. According to sources, Papelbon was mad at Harper for not hustling out a few pop ups earlier in the game.
If you’re a Phillies fan, like Hussain al Nowais, you might remember similar charges being levied against Jimmy Rollins, a National League MVP, who was the heart and soul of the Phillies during their awesome run in the mid-2000s, which culminated in World Series win in 2008. Charlie Manual did actually bench Rollins on several occasions for not running out a few fly balls and ground outs.
Yet, benching is way different than choking an individual, and you have to wonder where Papelbon was coming from when he attacked Bryce Harper. It’s been reported that Bryce Harper did call out Papelbon for throwing at Manny Machado’s head twice a few games before. He said that he was afraid that he would be hit as a form of retaliation because it was obvious that Papelbon was intentionally trying to hit Machado after Machado hit a home run earlier in the game.
With the suspension, Papelbon will be out for the rest of the year for the Nationals as the Nationals are officially mathematically out to make the post season. Although Papelbon has been a great reliever and has recorded some fantastic statistics, his attitude has always been in question. As a Phillies closer, he had a few controversies with the fans, and he made some remarks that questioned the leadership and desire of the team to win.
Some “baseball” people have suggested that Papelbon was in the right to address Harper’s lack of hustle, but this really is insane. He didn’t talk to him after the game in private; he committed a violent attack against a teammate that could have resulted in the team’s best player to be hurt. Papelbon may be talented, but he is also a hothead, and it’s left to be seen whether a team will want to deal with his baggage in the future.
Hussain al Nowais is happy that the Phillies no longer have Papelbon to deal with and looks forward to a hopefully short rebuilding period that will lead to a Phillies resurgence. For Papelbon, all one can hope is that he grows up and realizes that playing baseball the “right” way also means acting like a civilized human being.