The Nationals might not be headed to the playoffs, but they’ve certainly owned the headlines today, thanks to the Jonathan Papelbon / Bryce Harper confrontation yesterday (and Papelbon’s subsequent suspension) and Max Scherzer taking a no-hitter into the eighth against the Reds this afternoon. Here’s the latest from Washington.
- Scott Boras represents a number of key Nationals players, but he rejects criticisms that he has something to do with the team having underachieved lately, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Boras represents Scherzer, Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth, Danny Espinosa, and now Gio Gonzalez and Denard Span. Boras, though, points out that he also has several clients each on the Rangers, Cubs and Royals, all of whom are likely or definite playoff teams. “The issue is whenever I have had a number of players on the team, the vast majority of times it goes very well,” says Boras.
- Nats GM Mike Rizzo’s deal goes through 2016 and contains a club option for 2017, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets. The Nats will reportedly keep Rizzo for next season, although the details of his contract do seem relevant, given the Nats’ high-profile collapse this season.
- Public opinion understandably (and, from my vantage point, very justifiably) came down against Papelbon for his actions in his dustup with Harper, but responses from players were more mixed, pitcher-turned-commentator C.J. Nitkowski of FOX Sports writes. Some said Papelbon’s behavior was acceptable or that they “would have done the same thing,” seemingly proving Nitkowski’s point that “the clubhouse is like no other place.”
- Another former pitcher, Dirk Hayhurst of VICE Sports, writes that the fight was the consequence of baseball’s strange culture in which “the preferred tool for teaching is assault, and no one has any idea what that lesson is actually being taught because all the important stuff is not written down anywhere.”
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, meanwhile, argues that criticism of Harper for the altercation is unfair. Harper did run out the ball on the play that led to the fracas, and he’s played hard this season. He’s also been accommodating of media and autograph requests. And he has, of course, played brilliantly, while some of his teammates have foundered.