The Washington Nationals' disappointing season has officially reached a new low.
A day after the team was eliminated from playoff contention, tempers boiled over in the dugout Sunday in a clash between the face of the franchise and a trade-deadline acquisition.
Outfielder (and NL MVP favorite) Bryce Harper and closer Jonathan Papelbon got into it during the bottom of the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The incident started after Harper flied out to left field. When Harper made his way back to the dugout, Papelbon started chirping at his star teammate. That confrontation got more heated as the two got closer to each other, and ultimately Papelbon went after Harper.
Update from Monday, Sept. 28
Papelbon will not pitch again this season, as the Nationals have suspended him for four games for the dugout altercation:
The suspension handed down by the team will follow the three-game punishment the league issued for the reliever's throwing at Manny Machado last week.
In addition, Papelbon's jersey has been removed from the team store:
--End of Update--
Papelbon is facing a three-game suspension for intentionally hitting Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado on Wednesday. After that game, Harper seemingly called out Papelbon for hitting Machado, per Chris Johnson of MASNsports.com:
That may have helped set the stage for what happened Sunday.
Papelbon has a reputation for having a temper and being a bad teammate, per CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. The Nationals knew all that when they traded for him in July, but they figured his performance on the field would be worth the negatives he brought to the clubhouse. Since the acquisition, however, the team has not lived up to expectations.
While Harper was removed from the game in the top of the ninth, Papelbon was sent back out to the mound in the 4-4 game. When asked about the decision to keep the closer in after the dugout fight, Nationals manager Matt Williams kept it simple:
Papelbon—who took the loss in the 12-5 defeat—accepted responsibility for the brawl after the game, via Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post:
Williams did not elaborate on the incident:
Here's what Harper had to say, via John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal:
There's still one more week in the Nationals' season.