National’s Jonathan Papelbon Slams Teammate Bryce Harper Against the Wall by His Neck

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As a Phillies fan, I was ecstatic when they signed closer Jonathan Papelbon away from the Boston Redsox a few years ago. Papelbon’s entrance into Philadelphia, however, seemingly marked the beginning of an end for a semi-dynasty that the team had built up over the prior 5-6 years. The Phillies had tried for a couple years to trade the disgruntled closer to another team, even willing to pick up a large part of his salary in the process,  but because of his hefty salary, combined with the pitcher’s sometime controversial outbursts, they had a difficult time finding any takers.

This past July, it finally happened though, with Papelbon being shipped off to the division rival Washington Nationals, becoming their problem, if you may. Since his arrival in Washington, the Nationals have done nothing but play poorly, officially being eliminated from playoff contention just the other day. Last night, however, things reached a boiling point, when the National’s best player, and probably MVP of the league, Bryce Harper returned to the dugout, after “not running hard enough” in Papelbon’s eyes, after grounding out. As Harper walked into the dugout, Papelbon had some words for the star outfielder, to which Harper responded with some of his own.

It didn’t end here though. Instead of walking away, Papelbon, who is known for his outspoken nature and sometimes ridiculous behavior, grabbed Harper by his throat and slammed him against the wall.

To some people’s shock, National’s manager Matt Williams removed Harper from the game, but allowed Papelbon to continue pitching.

“He’s our closer,” Willams said, not giving much more of an explanation for his move.

After the game, Papelbon apparently apologized both directly to Harper, as well as publicly, by saying, “I’m in the wrong there.”

Today comes news that the Washington Nationals, after reviewing the incident, realized that Papelbon deserved more than a simple slap on the wrist for his immature actions. They have officially suspended the closer for the remainder of the season.

“The behavior exhibited by Papelbon yesterday is not acceptable,” GM/president of baseball operations for the Nationals, Mike Rizzo, said in a release announcing the decision. “That is not at all in line with the way our players are expected to conduct themselves, and the Nationals organization will not tolerate it in any way.”

What do you think? Should MLB take further action?

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