Julio Teheran blatantly drilled Bryce Harper after he thought Harper showed him up after hitting a long bomb on August 7th. There was no question the pitch was purposely thrown at Harper. (By the way; watch the video of that home run and try to find the objectionable action there. Maybe he pauses slightly, maybe he tosses his bat away instead of dropping it, maybe he runs slower than normal. Not one of these actions comes even close to what some guys in this league do on EVERY homer, ahem Yasiel Puig).
What did the Nats do in response? Nothing.
Last night, Harper was hit not just once but TWICE. First in the 4th inning on an errant Alex Wood curveball, then again in the 8th when Luis Avilan threw a ridiculous pitch behind Harper’s head.
What did the Nats do in response? Again, nothing.
The Nats broadcast team (as heard in the link for last night’s game above) said it right: “What is going on??”
I don’t care if Harper got hit with a curve (not on purpose) and a wild fastball (probably not on purpose, since it put the go-ahead runner on base in a tight game). I don’t care what the situation is; YOU HAVE TO RESPOND in kind. Enough is enough. That’s three straight plunkings of our best guy by the same team inside of a week.
The reaction of the Atlanta crowd was rather telling. Pathetic in that they cheered the HBP and then gave Avilan a standing ovation. However also telling because the message is clear; the Nationals ball club, for whatever reason, is not responding in kind to their best hitter getting repeatedly thrown at.
What is going on?? Why aren’t the Nats protecting Harper? Why aren’t they responding to these HBPs?
The correct response to the August 7th event would have been to hit Justin Upton in the middle of the back the next time he came to the plate. First pitch. Plain and simple. Why Upton? Because it was Upton who just the night before did the exact same thing that Harper was accused of, only it took him LONGER to prance around the bases. If Harper got hit because the Braves thought he was too slow around the bases, then how exactly do they excuse Upton’s trot, which was 4 seconds longer? And the correct response last night was to absolutely drill the first guy up in the bottom of that inning. No questions; first pitch, in the back.
I don’t know what the hell Davey Johnson is doing. Why wasn’t he out on the field last night, defending his player? Why wasn’t he calling out Atlanta’s manager Fredi Gonzalez? Why isn’t he ordering a response?? Why isn’t he showing any of the passion you would expect from a hall of fame manager who should know better? Better question; why aren’t Harper’s teammates taking any initiative here and doing what should be done? Where’s the leadership on this team? Where’s the leadership in this clubhouse??
If your answer is, “well it was a close game and the Nats couldn’t afford to purposely put a runner on base” then my response is this: 59-62. That’s the team’s record right now. You want another couple numbers? 15.5 (games out of first place with 6 weeks of the season to go), or how about 9.5 (games out of the wild card behind a team clearly better than them). The point is this; the season is over. They’re playing out the string. Time to start standing up for yourselves, protect your teammate, show some g*d d*mn spine, and protect your best hitter for the future.
I can’t image what Harper is thinking about his manager and his teammates right now. If it were me, I’d be asking my manager and my teammates point blank to their faces why i’m not being protected. It almost makes you wonder if his teammates flat out don’t like him. Is that what’s going on? Is the Nats clubhouse, which I’ve accused many times of being dysfunctional, even worse than we thought?
If you don’t think beanball justice has a role in the game, then you’ve either never played the game or don’t understand this aspect of it. The Nats are sending a message that its ok to go after their guys. That’s a really bad precedent to create.