Nationals Baseball: Quick angry little post

Monday, September 28, 2015

Quick angry little post

You're going to read a lot of pieces the next couple of days about the Nats. Their season is over and accounts must be taken. Plus you know, the jerkiest jerk that ever jerked a jerk tried to kill the MVP. They'll be talk about leadership and chemistry and the clubhouse... blah, blah, blah.

The Nats have plenty of leaders. They have a leave-it-all-on-the-field, it's-my-team, I'm-better-than-you, fan favorite leader. They have a quiet, play every day, clubhouse leader. They have a fire a fastball by them, squirt some syrup on you leader. They have a put-this-team-on-my-back MVP leader. They have a handful of guys that have been around for 5 plus years, including one guy who's been around from damn near the beginning. They had veterans hugging and rookies who "don't know any better".  They had one of the most respected managers of this generation for 2 years followed up by a hard-driving marine-type former all-star and world series winner. This is all led by a I'll-do-my-job-you-do-yours GM that did his job and turned around a perennial loser.

They are goddamn flush with leaders. The clubhouse outside of Storen and Papelbon, pretty much said everything they should have said and kept trying till... well at least a week ago when reality must have set in. You know what? It didn't matter.

Papelbon didn't go after Bryce because the clubhouse was out of control. Papelbon went after Bryce because the team just got eliminated and everyone is pissed and Papelbon is an ass.

The team didn't lose this year because the clubhouse was bad. The team lost because seasons like this will happen when you gamble on health and allow no room financially to get dealt back in the game.

The team didn't lose in the playoffs in past years because the clubhouse lacked something. The team lost in the playoffs because good teams lose in the playoffs.  See all those teams making it this year? 2 won't get past Game 1.  Another 4 won't win a real series. The last two will fail to make the series. They'll all magically go from teams that have what it takes to teams just not able to come up big. 

We've spent our sports following lives being forced fed a tautology. Winners win because they are winners. They've defined what winners should be and then they fit those that win into that definition. It's stupid. It's wrong. But it's easy and simple and impossible to argue against so there you go. 

They do the same with losers. Losers lose because they are losers. Make no mistake, the 2015 Nats are losers. But if we sit here and focus on how to make them winners through some sort of clubhouse fix we might as well do nothing. It'll probably have the same effect. 

The Nats need to either reshape the team with reliable bats and dependable bullpen arms or they need to be committed to spending more money, maybe a lot more, to fix issues when they come up. If not, well the Nats might be fine next year or they might win 84 games depending how the wind blows.They squandered two years when the wind didn't blow right. Next year could be the last competitive year in the next few.  Don't let them squander another focusing on the wrong things. 

88 comments:

Rob Evans said...

Pap needs a damn blanket party. The guy is the biggest ass I've ever seen on a baseball field. A complete immature jerk.

Mike said...

"Baseball writers and bloggers hate Jonathan Papelbon." But here's another perspective: http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/just-a-bit-outside/story/jonathan-papelbon-bryce-harper-fight-current-ex-players-support-pitcher-long-time-coming-092715

blovy8 said...

Papelbon is a dick, but that's not news and can be dealt with - the worse problem is he's making a ton of money to probably suck for the next year, and his last two weeks screwed his trade value as much as the weeks before did for Storen.

JE34 said...

I like our host when he's angry!

Fries said...

@ Mike

That post annoys me to no end. Why should Harper bother sprinting down the first base line on a short pop up? He has no way of making it to second if the ball drops, and there's no way they could throw him out at first even if he walked all the way down the line. People have been waiting for a reason to jump on the bash Harper bandwagon all season despite his historic season. Harper plays the game harder than almost anyone out there, what's wrong with jogging down to first on an easy fly?

Nats Suck said...

LOLNats

Sammy Kent said...

The Nats lose in the playoffs and then fail to make the playoffs in alternate years because something IS missing in the clubhouse.....or more specifically missing in the ROSTER: batters that can hit and push across runs in the clutch and a bullpen that can hold a lead. Those deficiencies are on Mike Rizzo. When accounts have to be made, he needs to be the first one in line to Mr. Lerner. Matty will almost certainly be gone after another week or so, but if Rizzo doesn't tweak his philosophy on building a team, the next guy won't fare a darn bit better. We'll forever have a team built to win 90 games against the bottom feeders and play about .300 against the good teams--a team whose ceiling is a division title. That's it. You don't get the luxury of playing the bottom feeders in the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

A possible silver lining is that Paps' attack might hasten MW's departure. Fighting in the dugout might be the sort of thing the Lerners don't like. Also, if you're Ted Lerner and Scott Boras is your BFF, don't you have to do something now, like either dump Paps or MW (or both)? (I know Bryce gave MW a vote of support a few weeks ago).

Anonymous said...

Okay so Papelbon did a jerky thing, he shouldn't have gotten physical with Bryce, no argument there. That should NEVER happen amongst teammates, but still it does, and life goes on. However, am I the only one who felt a little bit of satisfaction (glee maybe?) at the very instant Papelbon hit Machado the other night? Granted, my logical side took over about two seconds after it happened, and I arrived at the sane person's conclusion that Papelbon made a bad choice for so many different reasons (put the game at risk, put his fellow teammates at risk of future drillings, etc.). But for f sake, after watching Scherzer pour his heart and soul into that game, only to be knocked down by punky punk Machado (who should have been ejected earlier in the game ANYWAY), I have to say that watching Papelbon drill Machado felt good for a second.

Maybe I'm a horrible person, but I'm not afraid to (anonymously) voice my opinion that Papelbon was just doing what others would have been too wimpy/logical/restrained/boring to do. And Bryce, who, likely more than anyone else on that team, has experienced moments where logic and restraint have escaped him, shouldn't have badmouthed Papelbon *in public* after that incident. These guys are so much alike in temperament it's downright uncanny. I love the heart that they give to the game and the team. If they didn't care so much, they would never fight and that would make for a sad, lame, boring team.

notBobby said...

there has to be a clause in Pap's contract that gives the team the right to release him and not pay his remaining salary for that clubhouse altercation. I know there is the slippery slope argument, but that is just a lazy argument. It is very easy to differentiate between teammates getting into something and a just-brought-in relief pitcher physically attacking the team's best player in the dugout. Nats' attorneys need to be scouring that contract for a way to get away from Pap.

BornInDC said...

@Mike, the perspective you linked to bothers me too. It's easy to be "tough"when you're not the one being drilled for being "tough".

As I commented yesterday, Bryce already has a target on his back: the media attention, Bryce's intensity and how good he is guarantee that. A smart manager, knowing this should have let it be known that the Nats have a zero tolerance policy for pitchers throwing beanballs, Bryce is way too valuable to this team not to protect.

Bryce should never have had a reason to call Papelbon out for beaning Machado.

blovy8 said...

When I was growing up in the 70's, things were different, but I think beanball wars are a zero sum game. You put the guy on base, and then if he has speed, maybe he steals, then has a better chance of scoring ANOTHER run against you on top of the homer. How does putting guys on base help you win? What does it prove? What if you hurt the guy? All he did was watch a home run - no worse than what Ramos does every time and no one does a damned thing. Why? Because his OBP is less than 300 and you don't put him on base just cause your feelings are hurt since you are a grown man and not a child. Just pitch better. I suppose getting ejected was the best thing Papelbum did that day.

If there is a pattern of pitching way in to your guys, that's a different thing, but you don't start crap like this over a guy finally getting a hit off of a nemesis.

BornInDC said...

Anonymous, saying Papelbon and Bryce are alike in temperment is an insult to Bryce. Yes, Bryce sometimes loses it, but he is under incredible pressure given the expectations on him and he is still incredibly young for an MLB player.

Also, for just one example of how they are different in temperament: Papelbon insisted on being the closer on any team to which he was traded and has said that the number of saves he has is important to him. In contrast, Harper has had the patience to continue to draw walks, even though it potentially hurts his home run total. Bryce is much more focused on helping his team win than Papelbon is. If Papelbon cared as much about winning as Harper does, Papelbon would have said he didn't care about getting saves and he would be willing to be put in high leverage situations, no matter what inning they happen.

Anonymous said...

Hey hang in there Nats fans, it's not over. Still 3 h2h. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

Rob Evans said...

In case you chesty LOLMets fans have forgot...

The 7 Biggest Team Chokes in Sports History

"#6 – 2007 New York Mets

The Setup: The Mets had a 7-game lead over the Phillies in the National League East with 17 to play.

The Choke: The Mets finish the season 5-12, including 5 of 6 at home to the lowly Marlins and Nationals in front of 48,000-plus every night to close.

The Bright Side: At least the choke job at home didn't come in the final games ever at Shea Stadium. No, Shea closed a year later when the Mets blew only a 3 1/2-game lead in September to lose the division again. See? A slightly less depressing way to say goodbye to the stadium."

http://www.sportspickle.com/2011/09/the-7-biggest-team-chokes-in-sports-history

Steven Biel said...

I dunno. I think the team quit on Williams. You have a few guys with one foot out the door heading into free agency, a few others who feel unappreciated for various reasons, and a manager with the bedside manner of a wall socket.

Carlo Gitto said...

Your GM and your manager obviously need to go. Pap? He's a phsyco. Werth looks like he lives in a garbage dump. Harper? Talent talent talent. He's also an immature dick. Doesn't hustle. Not winning the MVP would probably be another nice piece of humble pie for him. Rewarding a child for bad behavior never works out well. He needs his wings clipped a bit. Great stats leader, a leader of men, and example to others, not so much. Good luck folks. See you Friday. Hold your heads high, your team oozes potential. Next year we do it all over again. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

@RobEvans The biggest choke in MLB history is the Nats crowning themselves champs in February, then losing six straight to the Mets, one of which was blowing a SIX RUN LEAD with 2 outs in the 7th. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH! Maybe Bryce, Werth, and Stras have room for me in their foursome on the links.

Carlo Gitto said...

Poor sad fellow. Lashing out. Your team didn't choke. Injuries, bad trade deadline moves, and an awful manager. Hey, it happens. Great players dont win, great teams do. Chemistry just not there. A cold winter soothes many wounds. See you in the spring.

Nats Suck said...

@Rob Evans,

At least our team isn't an embarrassment to baseball. Teammates choking each other out?

A GM that rewards good play by bringing in a douche-bag closer to take over a guy who was having All Star numbers?

What kind of message does that send to every other player? Good play gets you demoted? What is Rizzo going to do now, go out an get a new right fielder?

Have fun watching the Mets win it all fellas! Pap was probably just giving Harper his ring he asked for before the season started, this one just went around his neck and not his finger.

Carlo Gitto said...

Ooooh you evil little Mets blogger. What a stinker. Ok to have fun, but anonymous?
Courage man.

Carlo Gitto said...

Ahh another fellow Met fan. Peace brother.

Bryceroni said...

This was not a toxic clubhouse, but I think it's wrong to just say 'sometimes people play bad nothing to see here.'

Baseball is a game played by human beings. We can't measure what feeling confident, being pissed off, thinking the opponent is a pushover, or the like does. However those things still have an impact.

The failure in this clubhouse is that a ton of players underperformed (I speculate related to a some arrogance) and then the bullpen melted down under pressure and misuse.

For whatever reason, the clubhouse wasn't able to help people get out of slumps, keep confidence, etc.

Jay said...

The problem is that it was Pap doing the beaning and the mouthing off. David Price on twitter made a comment after Pap beaned Machado "Orioles came out on the field and the Nats stayed at their positions. I know what that means." Alluding to the fact that the entire team didn't agree with the beaning. I agree Harper should have run that ball out, but I also think he at least played. Yesterday's game and the rest of them now mean nothing. Werth didn't play. Zimmerman hasn't played in weeks bc he hurt himself swinging a freaking bat. Desmond has done everything but back the moving truck up to the stadium. Keeps talking about his next chapter, and how he appreciated being a Nat (all in the past tense).

Everyone receives blame on this one. The Lerner's for pinching pennies on the bullpen and at the trade deadline. There was no way the Nats were trading for Kimbrel or Carlos Gonzalez if they can't take on payroll. Thus we get Asdrubel Cabrera last year and Papelbon this year. Rizzo for always relying on players that get hurt. Next year I don't think you can rely on Zimmerman or possibly even Rendon. He has to stop thinking that the bullpen is not a big deal and can be made up of scrub pitchers who aren't good enough to start. I still worry that Rizzo is a great scout instead of a great GM. MW - I could go on all day. Needless to say he has made just about every wrong move possible. I wouldn't be shocked if he quit at the end of the year. He seems to have lost all of his fight and is just sort of stubborn and beligerent now. The players have to take blame for underachieving and coming up small in big games.

Also, did anyone else read that article by Barry Svrluga in the Post about MW losing the clubhouse? Wow is all I can say. If half of that article is true then there is no way MW can come back. Wow.

Anonymous said...

If Nats fans really want to live in 2007 to escape this reality, you should be reminded that the Nationals won 73 games that year, 15 games behind the Mets. But I guess that's historically standard for this organization. Yet you call us the LOLMets. LOL... Respect your elders...

Jayson Werth said...

We know who we are. We know our identity. We are the team to beat in the National League. Everybody knows it. We know it. It’s just how it is. It doesn’t change anything.

Wookiee of the Year said...

Harper, I'm curious for your thoughts on what the Nats need to do to rebuild their pen for next year. I've seen a lot of people saying Storen needs a change of scenery after being jerked around so much by the Nats, and now there are suggestions that the Nationals will need to trade or release Papelbon. What are your thoughts? Do they sell low on either or both of these guys and build a bullpen from square one? Do they hold onto them both? No good options here, but I'm curious what you think is the best approach.

Denard Span said...

If I had money, which I do, I'd bet on us to win the division.

Anonymous said...

I'm very curious to see how everything plays out. When Strasburg blew his arm out requiring Tommy John, the announcer at the time for the Nats, Rob Dibble, questioned Stras work ethic (not knowing at the time the extent of his injury). Even after apologizing Dibble was fired. You don't criticize the future of the franchise. So here we have a hired gun physically attacking the prized player of the team. Can't wait to see the response.

Mrs. Papelbon said...

To be able to have a guy like Scherzer come in? I just started laughing. I was like, ‘Where’s my ring?’ You know what I mean? It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid how good our staff is

Bryce Harper said...

Where's my ring?

Robot said...

@Mike - That article is terrible. Maybe it's defensible for Pap to call out Harper for not hustling (I disagree because (1) it was a pop-fly and Bryce was on first by the time it was caught anyway, and (2) Pap isn't the manager), but THERE IS NEVER AN EXCUSE FOR CHOKING ANOTHER PLAYER. Full stop.

What I can't get over is all the headlines claiming "Harper and Papelbon brawl in Nationals' Dug-out" or something similar. This is the type of crap Bryce has to deal with. A teammate assaults him, but in the news it's both of them brawling.

Argh. Whatever. A wise man once said, "That's baseball," or something... Pap attacking the NL MVP front-runner is as a good a metaphor as any for the second-half of this season. Let's hope Boras is able to convince Rizzo to send Pap and MW packing by the end of the week.

Harper said...

Rob Evans - What have you done for me lately always wins. Always. If you are going to try to come at a Mets fan wait until they (most likely) lose in the playoffs.

Nats Suck - Mets win it all? Where's your ring? It could happen but I'll take that bet.

Carlo - Bryce isn't an immature dick. It's understandable you think so, those are ths stories that get promoted, but if you watched him everyday you'd know that. And think about the stories... too much eyeblack, didn't run out a pop-up last April, didn't Charlie Hustle it down the line yesterday. It adds up to nothing unless you fill in the gaps in the stories with constant similar events. Thing is, those don't exist.

Bryceroni - it's not a simple as a shrug, but I don't know how you make the clubhouse better outside of shooting Papelbon from a canon. Where did this clubhouse go wrong? Where does it not follow the standard clubhouse rules? Leaders? Vets? Devil-may-care types? Serious guys? Quiet leaders? Vocal leaders? Where's the hole? We're looking for something that may not be there. Desmond got better. All the injured guys hit better eventually. Strasburg came back better. Some guys got better - some guys didn't. Does the perfect clubhouse get them all back? Is that what you're staying because I don't buy it.

Harper said...

Wookie - That's the million dollar question. I guess you sell low on Drew. This is the second time he's folded when not allowed to keep his closer job, and I don't think the team had any inclination to keep him beyond 2016. That's a mess between Drew and the management and he doesn't seem to be able to get past that so do the best you can. Papelbon, then has to be kept. I honestly think Bryce can get past it if Papelbon sincerely apologies. Of course Papelbon being himself he'll have to make a big public show of being past it somehow, but if Bryce doesn't care, I think the team gets past it too. Grown men should be able to mess up and move on.

SM said...

Hire Bill "Spaceman" Lee. Not necessarily as Manager--no big league team is that brave--but to mellow out that clubhouse.

Rob Evans said...

Appreciate the advice Harper. But I'll come at them when and how I please. It's your blog and I respect that, but these trolls that come out of the woodwork when their team is doing well but then run and hide like roaches when the light comes on when they lose deserve all the derision they get. They're cowards, internet blowhards that don't even have the courage to put their name behind their comments.

Robot said...

Of course Papelbon being himself he'll have to make a big public show of being past it somehow

I move that Pap allow Bryce to kick him in the crotch on the pitcher's mound in lieu of a ceremonial first pitch at the home-opener next season.

Non-trolling Mets Fan said...

Some outside perspective: It's been said that middle relief pitching is the most fickle part of the game. A guy can be great one year and way off the next (Mets fans remember Aaron Heilman for this, as long as we're talking about 2007). Addressing holes in the bullpen in the off-season can be as much of a crapshoot as the playoffs. So why not concentrate your efforts on finding an innings eater? Your biggest bullpen problem is Gio Gonzalez.

Carlo Gitto said...

You WERE the team to beat. Well, you got beat. Now go take a shower. A long one pleeeaaasse. And shave that shitt pleeeaaasse, ya slob.

Carlo Gitto said...

I think they should do nothing. Kinda like them just the way they are.

BornInDC said...

Harper said...

"Papelbon, then has to be kept."

I wouldn't keep him. If you played for the Nats would you want Papelbon on your team? As the owner or GM are you willing to risk that the next time Papelbon acts like a jerk that he injures another player?

Eating $11 million and not having a big name closer next year may suck, but long-term, I think keeping Papelbon is worse because of the image it projects about the team. I don't know what the boundary line is for unacceptable behavior is in a dugout that should result in a player being let go, but whatever it is, Papelbon crossed it.

If the Yankees can have a "no beards" rule, I'm okay with the Nats having a "no choking a teammate" rule, even if it costs the Nats a win or two in 2016.

Carlo Gitto said...

Let me put on some rubber gloves and I'll show you. Now bend over and cough.

Max David said...

It all started from the Machado incident.

Machado didn't even "pimp" his home run either. Did he stand in the box a little longer?? Maybe, but it's not like he did the Ortiz trot around the bases where it takes him 50 seconds to cross home plate. I wouldn't have hit him in the 9th (especially when we were down and could ill afford to give up base runners), but you want to be childish and hit him?? Fine, hit him on the ribs or the back or something, but don't go throw TWICE at the guys head (and I hate Machado), that's career ending. The he got pissed because nobody came out of the Nats dugout. Well, why should they have?? It was a douche move from a douche player! And then Harper's comments afterward the fact probably embarrassed him. Well, guess what asshole: If you don't want to get embarrassed in the media, don't go throw intentionally at guys heads!
Other posters have mentioned this but there was really no reason for him to go all out to first anyways. If the OF drops it, he's not going to second, and he could've crawled to first regardless. And someone mentioned this on Twitter last night, but they brought up Uggla's sac fly in the 7th inning where he basically carried the bat all the way down to first base. Where was Papelbum then?? Oh because he didn't criticize Papelbum to the media he gets a pass??

And the last thing I find totally ironic about the whole thing is this: This is the same guy that REFUSES to pitch in any inning BUT the 9th, yet he's going to criticize the NL MVP for not "hustling" on a fly out to LF?? Get this asshole out of town.....immediately! Not after next season, not in the offseason, NOW! I don't give a flying %$#% if he's owed $11 million or $111 million, all of the Nats fans on Twitter that I know would gladly chip in for the DFA Papelbum fund!

Anonymous said...

Harper was pulled after the fight-Papelbon gets sent out to pitch the 9th. Matt Williams said if he had seen the video, he wouldn't have sent him out to pitch the 9th. My question is if Williams was unaware of what happened why did he pull Harper or did Harper take himself out of the game. Does anyone know.

Mike said...

@ Fries, @Robot -

I tend to agree with you that Harper has no reason to run hard on that pop-up. The last few weeks have been extremely disappointing and any remaining playoff hope had officially ended less than 24 hours before. But what I find interesting about that article is the contrast between how fans like us view the incident and how current and former players see it. Some of their comments are unequivocal:

- Pap did what should have been done three years ago
- I agree with Pap calling Harper out
- I am perfectly OK with Pap’s reaction

Now some of this could be professional jealousy - Harper is an unbelievable talent. But I think it speaks to the culture in the MLB. There is a feeling that no matter how good you are, you still have to pay your dues in some sense. One of the players said, "Albert, Papi and Miggy have earned the right not to run out every ball". Harper's not there yet.

I love watching Harper play every day and am constantly amazed by what he can do on a baseball field. He has the potential to be one of the greatest who ever played the game. But it still just potential. He has a way to go in terms of maturity. In no way am I defending Papelbon physically assaulting his teammate, but maybe this kind of thing was inevitable.

Sammy Kent said...

@ Carlo Gitto,

When you call Bryce Harper an immature dick, you have no idea what you're talking about. Bryce gives his all every night, respects the game, builds up his teammates, compliments the opposing team and players, and plays with an effusive abandon that inspires his peers and excites the fans. Bryce Harper is as far from the image of the immature, childish punk that other fanbases have of him as Pluto is from the sun. He's a great player, great teammate, great example of how baseball should be played. I'll guarantee you every other fanbase that bitches about Bryce Harper's fictional antics would love to have him on their team.

You also are wrong when you lay the blame for this season on injuries. Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon both played like crap when they returned after starting the season on the DL. Ryan Zimmerman played like crap before he went down the first time. The three of them then all spent several weeks together on the DL, during which time the replacement players rallied and put this team in first place. The starters then returned all in the same weekend, and the less talented players that had nonetheless actually got the job done were unceremoniously sent to the end of the bench while the three returning players, except for Zim in spurts, promptly became just as unproductive as before, dragging the team into the downward spiral that continues to this day. The only starter on the DL that actually played as well as the guy who replaced him was Denard Span....and his absence was the only one that seriously cost this team.

In the first 24 games after Werth, Rendon, and Zimmerman came off the DL the Nationals went 8-16 and dropped nine games in the standings. In nine of those 16 losses the Nationals scored two or fewer runs. In one of the eight wins they scored only one run. The pitching, while certainly less than stellar and even plain bad at times, still put the Nationals in position to win most of those games if they could have put some runs across the plate. In the sweep in New York the Mets scored only two, three, and five runs. In three games against the Giants, Dodgers, and Rockies the opposition scored only three runs. Give the Mets the game where they scored five, but that still leaves five very winnable games that this supposedly paragon lineup failed to produce in, and would have made their record in the same time frame 13-11, and had them still two games ahead of the Mets instead of three behind.

Is it all on those guys alone? No. Ian Desmond cost this team mightily with nearly 30 errors and 180 Ks. The starting pitching wasn't nearly as consistent and effective as everyone thought it would be. The bullpen for the fifth consecutive year of competitive level baseball was a daily crap shoot. Wilson Ramos cost this team runs with poor defense, poor hitting, and lazy play in general. Matt Williams lost the team with inconsistent discipline and putting an unproductive lineup together night after night while the players that actually performed collected splinters. There's a lot of reasons why this season failed to meet expectations, but injuries ain't one of them.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

Harper - I love the rational perspective you bring to this blog. It's what keeps me coming back here. But I'm going to disagree in this case that a) there's nothing out of the ordinary in the Nats falling short and b) the damage can be fixed by well thought-out roster moves. Fact is, the Nats are turning out to be a highly dysfunctional organization - a bit shockingly, since until very recently they were thought of as a high-functioning organization, the kind where players wanted to play because they felt they'd be well treated, have their health looked after, be managed for the long term (cf. the Strasburg shutdown). When that perspective goes out the window - as it just has in the wake of the Papelbon trade and then the Nats' astounding mismanagement of public perceptions over the past 16 hours - it's going to have real consequences for the product we see on the field, because free agents will suddenly be less willing to consider DC as a destination, local talent (Bryce) will be more willing to leave, and the core fan base will be alienated, which means a smaller gate, reduced merchandise sales, lower TV ratings, therefore less revenue, therefore lower payroll. I'm speaking (for once) from a professional perspective - I'm a corporate communications adviser, including in crisis situations, and I've seen organizational dysfunction up close. And I've seen it cause real damage. The Nats are acting out a classic example of how not to do it - the fact that Papelbon is on the lineup card today is just astounding. I don't think ownership or management gets just how angry people are and what that's going to lead to. Granted that teams fall short, there's bitterness, people act out, it happens all the time. But that doesn't necessarily mean that people who react to it are falling into a "they're losers because they lose" tautology. Plenty of ground in between one polarity (they're losers) and the other (it's another day in the life). Ken Rosenthal and Mark Zuckerman are dead on when they locate the problem in the Nats' organizational style and in past decisions that management has made. I'll go a step beyond that and say that if they don't get this under control fast - and that means a Papelbon suspension and a dismissal of Williams - the relationship with players and with core fans is going to be soured in a lasting way. And then the Nats will in fact turn into losers as the dollars flow elsewhere. You can't let an expensive discretionary entertainment product turn into a national (sorry) joke. Because if you do, you're going to be playing with Wily Mo Pena-type talent in a big, empty ballpark. My $.02.

Anonymous said...

@Alan G. Ampolsk

. . . and it's at that point when franchises consider relocation.

VI said...

I wonder if those who cry "actually watch him every night" actually do. Harper loves to hit, and loves his stats, but he's on the fast track to becoming an indifferent fielder. I thought it might just be me focusing unfairly on all those one hop singles he casually moves to, instead of getting a real jump, hustling and catching a few. However, a quick look at the successfully making likely plays stats bear this out.

Harper said...

Alan G - Let's see how the next 2 to 24 hours play out. I also think Papelbon should be suspended - you can't go after a fellow player, but might not be handed down yet. Him listed in the line-up card could be a necessary formality. I also think MW should be fired (assuming the Nats aren't giving up on 2016). I think the point is though doing the above and nothing else - that's not going to make the Nats better. It may keep the fans on your side for another year but like I said - the breeze blows the wrong way and the purse strings are still tight and the fans leave just for losing. You can make the Nats better through roster moves and nothing else - but that's a big gamble because if you DON'T get better (and that's a real possibility as things just don't work out all the time) you set up the dysfunctional perspective, true or not. The truth is though - if the Nats did nothing and then started next year 20-5 and went on to make the World Series, there's no souring. I guess what I'm saying is suspend Papelbon, fire Williams (after the season), but consider them just the easy opening moves, not the major decisions.

VI - I don't think he's indifferent. I think he's not very good. He's ok. I think what you say is true - he doesn't get good jumps but he grew up behind the plate, not in the field.

Sammy Kent said...

@ Alan G. Ampolsk

Nail, hammer, head. The Lerners need to get this mess under control NOW. This organization still has a positive future ahead, but that will quickly deteriorate if the dysfunctional element is allowed to fester and flourish. Matt almost certainly would be gone without yesterday's incident anyway, but Mr. Rizzo needs to have his seat warmed and stop letting Scott Boras run the GM's office.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

@ Harper - agree completely that the ultimate fixes are roster-based and long-term. Immediate actions re Papelbon and Williams won't have the same long-term positive impact. But they could have long-term negative impact if mismanaged. There are a lot of things wrong in the naked Nationals city and these (Pap and Williams) are two of them. So I guess where I come out is, first things first. Agree with you about the next things.

Apparently Papelbon has dropped his appeal of the MLB suspension so things could cascade from there - agree that the lineup card may just be a formality or a "we can't get to that yet."

I continue to think that part of what we're seeing is the Lerners' failure to understand - in common with many other owners - that running a baseball team isn't the same as running their core business. In 2008-2009, they decided it wasn't rational to pay for free agents 'til the attendance went up and gave them the revenue. Sensible if your business is Tyson's Corner, but exactly backwards if you're in the MLB. Here you've got the refusal to be flexible with the '15 operating budget, which leads to Papelbon as (they thought) the least-bad and certainly budget-friendly option. Clubhouse poison is not high on their list of things to think about - or it wasn't, anyway. Let's hope it is now.

@anon @9:51 - agree in principle, though I'd be surprised if the Lerners were inclined to think of selling, let alone to someone who'd relocate. The bigger risk is that the public criticism makes them decide to double down, rather than changing their approach. Sadly, wouldn't be the first time.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

Nats just announced (1:35 ET) Papelbon suspended for four games, team suspension to follow his three-day MLB suspension, so he's done for '15.

Good first move. Credit where it's due.

Now let's see how things play out from here.

(Apologies, had posted this in the wrong thread. Now it's in the right place).

Chaz R said...

Great perspective (as always) Harper. I do agree with all of that, but MW is still part of the problem and will likely be again next year. He just is tone deaf, stiff, and not a good baseball thinker- all likely due to his inexperience. Given his work ethic, it wouldn't surprise me if he eventually turns himself into a good manager. I don't see how that can be here in DC, and we especially can't afford another poor managerial performance next season.

These Mets trolls are amusing this season. I don't recall seeing them here in the past... hmmm... wonder why....

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

And then they announce that Harper will be "benched" (on a scheduled day off) for his role in the altercation.

Seriously?

One step forward, two steps back.

#notgettingit

Max David said...

LOL at the press conference. When I think they are going forward they go backwards a mile. Good grief:

Matt Williams yesterday, "Harper has a scheduled day off tomorrow."
Matt Williams today, "Due to his part in the altercation, Harper is benched today."

So to our genius of a manager which one is it?? The ONLY good thing about this season is that Williams will be hitting the road, can't come a moment too soon!

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

Apparently the spin is that the suspension is symbolic.

Problem with that is it continues to set up a false equivalence between Harper and Papelbon.

Not to mention the impact on fan sentiment.

I'm always astonished by the way the Nats manage to conduct themselves as though they're a small/midmarket franchise. Someone really ought to tap them on the shoulder and remind them that they're operating in one of the wealthiest, best-educated, most articulate and most opinionated cities on the planet. So "I wasn't aware of what was happening at the other end of the dugout" and "It's not a day off, it's a suspension" really, really don't cut it.

Robot said...

Just to clarify, Harper is benched on a previously scheduled day off as punishment for getting choked. Got it.


In fairness to ole PBN, he's sticking to the playbook. Today is Bryce's day off, and we're not deviating from that.

Robot said...

@Alan - Agreed; we Washingtonians are smarter than that. It's not like he's dealing with Mets fans.

BornInDC said...


Let Bryce go and prepare to have your core fanbase hate ownership every year that Bryce is in the playoffs and the Nats don't win the World Series. In addition to not forgiving the Nats ownership for the on-field results caused by Bryce's departure, the fans will really hate ownership, because of the media stories, blog posts, etc. reminding them that the Nats were such a loser organization that the couldn't keep Bryce.

As bad as it has been as a fan to endure the "Strasburg shutdown" stories, articles, commentaries, blog posts, etc., the "letting Bryce go" stories, articles, commentaries, blog posts, etc. will be 10 times worse.

And, as has been shown by the Redskins, when fans hate ownership in this town, attendance will decline, even for a once beloved team such as the Redskins.

Sammy Kent said...

Papelbum is done for the year. Good. Him daring to call out other players for not performing is particularly laughable. He has done little since joining the team except make everyone forget it was Tyler Clippard that invented the late inning two-run dinger.

BornInDC said...

Sorry first part of my comment got cut:

I agree 100% with Alan G's comments. And further to those comments, the most important action that the Nats ownership needs to do in the offseason is sign Bryce to a contract extension keeping him a Nat into his 30s. Nothing else ownership does is even close to the importance to making this happen.

Let Bryce go and prepare to have your core fanbase hate ownership every year that Bryce is in the playoffs and the Nats don't win the World Series. In addition to not forgiving the Nats ownership for the on-field results caused by Bryce's departure, the fans will really hate ownership, because of the media stories, blog posts, etc. reminding them that the Nats were such a loser organization that the couldn't keep Bryce.

As bad as it has been as a fan to endure the "Strasburg shutdown" stories, articles, commentaries, blog posts, etc., the "letting Bryce go" stories, articles, commentaries, blog posts, etc. will be 10 times worse.

And, as has been shown by the Redskins, when fans hate ownership in this town, attendance will decline, even for a once beloved team such as the Redskins.

anon@9:51 said...

@ Alan G. Ampolsk

Your first, closely argued post extrapolated the consequences of ownership choosing to squeeze nickels, so to speak, until shit comes out of the buffalo (or beaver, if you're Canadian).

"Doubling down" would only hasten the Lerners' re-evaluation of their investment in the Nationals, especially if your conclusion--empty stadium, declining revenue streams--were to hold true. If the losses were protracted over 3 consecutive years, let's say, you don't think they'd consider selling?

The second Senators franchise lasted--what?--10 years? 11 years? before skedaddling to Texas. Unlike Jack Kent Cooke's, Lerner money is neither media-built, nor media-dependent. In the end, the Nationals are just another mall--albeit a big one--that either makes money or is unloaded.

ProphetNAT said...

I gotta say - the whole situation with Pap beaning Machado sums up the group of pushovers that is this Nats team. David Price made a comment on twitter as mentioned above: "Haha wow Baltimore runs into field...nationals stay at their positions...looked funny...I'm pretty sure I know what that means." What that means is this team doesn't have each others backs. Say what you want about Papelbon, he wears a curly W on his chest. The fact that he inadvertently hurt Drew Storen's feelings, says more about Drew than it does about Pap's. Rizzo made the move for crying out loud. Some people are upset about Pap's "closer clause" in his contract? The dude is an 11 year vet, WS winner, been and one of the top 5 closers the past 10 years - and having a season equally as good as Storens at the time of the trade. Dude has earned that clause. Scherzer gave everything he had in that game only to give up a bomb to that undeniable punk Machado. Wrong or right, Papelbon is sticking up for his teammate and doing what he thought was right. I don't agree with beaning another player for hitting a homerun, Papelbon should have chosen his revenge in a different form. David Price's observation is spot on in describing how soft the Nationals are and that they don't have this particular teammates back. Harper even calls him out in the media - defending Machado! Are you kidding me?? I don't care if the beaning was poor sportsmanship or not, keep it in house! Don't ever throw your teammate under the bus. Ever. But we love Bryce, so he gets a pass...?

Fast forward to the dugout brawl. 2 coaches, Lobaton, and Desmond at the end break it up. It wasn't headed off before by our "leaders," the same ones our blogmaster says we have. No one jumped in to break it up - they just stood their with their pants around their ankles, the same way as when their TEAMMATE closer hits a cocky opposing player.

They fight each each other (on fan appreciation day - no less!) instead of fighting to win a game. They crown themselves in February. And they and lack any sense of urgency when the chips are clearly down. Fans can hate Papelbon, we're entitled to our opinion. But the Nats players feel the same way we do and therein lies the problem. Organization is more a mess than what I originally thought. David Price makes a laughing stock out of us from afar - and if there is any question to the validity of his statement - the Nats themselves just reaffirmed it for ya on Saturday. Open your eyes people.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

@anon@ 9:51/11:31 - fair enough. The Lerners might well conclude that all the public... um... attention... isn't worth the price, and go back to their nice quiet mall business.

If that happens, I suppose I could find my way up the road to Baltimore. Especially if they continue to hire managers with cognitive skills.

Watching the MASN/PRAVDA coverage now. Fun.

Oh, and apparently Harper isn't suspended, just benched. That clears everything up.

Doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

Couple more things:

1) Mets fans, congrats on climbing out of the cellar - enjoy October and find another place to post your opinions.
2) My fellow Nats fans, don't ever bring up the 2007 Mets, this season of ours is just as pathetic - makes the fanbase as a whole look really butt hurt.
3) Humble pie might make us all a little stronger next season. These Nats are eating it now, so we probably should too.

Anonymous said...

Anon,

The Lerner's didn't buy this team for the cash flow. They purchased it for $450M and it's worth $1.3B currently (according to forbes). That's a 12.5% rate of return... assuming they run it at a break-even cash flow (what goes it goes out). The valuation will only increase if TV revenue increases and fans keep coming. For that to happen, the team must perform better than this year for sure, and preferably compete for a championship (or at least give the fans reason to believe they can). I'm guessing the Lerners will continue to spend every dollar of revenue to try and field a competitive team, however, I doubt they will be willing to run it at a loss for an extended period.

Bryceroni said...

I think the 'Harper needs to play the game the right way' stuff coming from ex players is a load of crap. Baseball would be more exciting if the players could get over the ridiculous rules about showing people up and all that jazz.

I like that Harper shows emotion on the field; I wish more players were willing to show some personality. I'll take Harper over trout any day because despite trout being a spectacular player, he has absolutely no personality.

WiredHK said...

I wish Bryce would choke out our entire bullpen, except they're all expert level at doing that just fine all by themselves.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

One of the interesting side effects of a Bryce Harper controversy is watching the reaction of in-market vs. out-of-market observers. People who don't follow him/the Nats every day are aware of him mainly for a few stats and a lot of brash moments. They don't get to see the day-to-day improvements, or the seriousness he brings to his study of the game. Makes me reluctant to pass judgment on other teams' players - I'd much rather ask the locals what they think. Seems like a truism but Harper firestorms (and the earlier Strasburg shutdown fun) really bring it home.

JE34 said...

@WiredHK - well played, sir, well played.

@Alan A - I've noticed the quality manager they have up the road in Baltimore. But that's no reason to support a Peter Angelos owned franchise.

SM said...

David Price was probably woozy from the champagne and Cuban cigars when he tweeted. But if he's "pretty sure" he knows what "that"--the Machado beaning/non-brawl--means, he isn't saying.

That the Nats are a bunch of cupcakes? That most of the team loathes Papelbon? Who knows?

Price pitches at Baltimore on Thursday, and I'd be curious to see what would happen if an Oriole pitcher grazed Edward Encarnacion's whiskers after one his parrot-on-the-forearm home run trots.

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

Just tweeted by Dan Steinberg (@dcsportsbog): "Fan at Nats Park screaming at others: "Hustle back to your seats! C'mon! More hustle!"

Oh my!

Anonymous said...

Steinberg had a great column on MW today: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2015/09/28/matt-williams-again-relies-on-routine-circumstances-be-damned/

Alan G. Ampolsk said...

@anon @12:37 pm - Agree, great piece!

VI said...

@Harper

Maybe. His advanced fielding metrics suggest he isn't getting better over the past three years. In fact, they are trending to a slight decline (although, the inherent shortcomings in fielding metrics make stop short of that conclusion). It's anecdotal, but I see a different RF out there when an opposing runner tries to go from 1st to 3rd on a single to right. That guy looks like a defensive player.

He has all of the physical tools to win Golg Gloves. Maybe it is about background and where he sees his value, and best uses of his time.

Anonymous said...

Let's look on the bright side Nats fans..while we Met fans are watching playoff baseball this Papelbon vs. Harper MMA style melee A) gets your minds off this difficult to watch collapse by an underachieving team B) is a great start to the hot stove league and C) was one of the few times in the last several weeks when a Nat player actually hit something hard

Non-trolling Mets Fan said...

Now, now... this is Bryce Harper we're talking about. If anything, Papelbon should feel lucky Harper didn't take a swing at him, since everything he hits goes 450 feet.

Anonymous said...

Well from a female's perspective, I can tell you that nobody should be messing with Bryce as he is just too damn gorgeous. If anybody messes up that face, the Nats will lose 90% of their female fans, and probably a good portion of the male fans. Yes, I'm talking about you F.P.

Anonymous said...


http://m.mlb.com/video/v24549587/chcwsh-harper-takes-one-inside-benches-clear-again/?c_id=mlb

For those who have maybe forgotten what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a douchebag pitcher.

Funny, but I didn't hear Bob and FP express this much disgust towards Papelbon when he beaned Machado.

Anonymous said...

Bryce Harper could murder a baby and ya'll would be like "That baby had it coming. Harpy Bear wouldn't hurt a baby unless it was necessary. He's such cutie pie perfect sweet sweet man. He's so amazing omg that hipster gay guy haircut is yummy in my tummy. "

Anonymous said...

@4:32 AM Wow, it's like you know me. You clearly read my diary.

Oh and you are also clearly an LOLMetsFan and would cream your pants if Harpy Bear was on your LOLteam

Anonymous said...

@Anon Harpy Bear would love to be on my LOLNLEast Champs team. He'd live in a better city, and playing meaningful baseball with players who don't choke out their own teammates.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 6:55

...maybe its because it wasn't the Nats that were getting beaned? Go follow your own team and stop spouting off-base rhetoric. And if you are a Nats fan - thats even more embarrassing. You and everyone else knows the answer to that question, so please stop stirring the pot, take your wooden spoon and go home, you're drunk.

Clip&Store said...

Yeah rizzo architected this team from miserable to among the most talented in baseball the past 4 years while maintaining a strong farm system. He surely needs to go.

And the Bryce comments aren't even worth acknowledging beyond this.

Kenny B. said...

I love how the post here was about not focusing on "clubhouse culture" as the way to make the team better, and then 75% of the posts are people complaining about how the Nats have a toxic clubhouse culture and everyone is a jerk. This team needs a good bench to back the injury-prone regulars, and a good, all-new bullpen. And hopefully soon a new manager. The best thing for "the clubhouse" is winning.

These are just the throes of misery, folks. Glad they suspended Paps, and can't wait to see Williams go, but now is probably not the time for the team to make franchise-defining decisions. Some cooling off is in order if they are to approach the offseason with a clear head and a solid plan.

Man, Washington sports fans are quick to pull out the torches and pitchforks.

Froggy said...

'...they should do nothing...'

Wut?

Your too stupid to even realize your sentence construction and grammar are incoherent and clearly representative of your New Jersey school system.

Now beat it eggplant

John C. said...

Skimmed over most of the posts because of the trolling. Internet trolling is a sad, pathetic pastime that says more about its practitioners than it does about their targets.

As for Harper in RF, while UZR isn't a fan, I'll note that DRS loves Bryce's work in RF. So perhaps he's not so terrible after all. Or at least it's not cut and dried that he is.