The biggest problem with last night’s bullshit “brawl” was the Nats clearly have lost focus. Maybe lost focus is putting it mildly, because based on a 54-59 season that has the team 14.5 games back in early August, it’s arguable the team lacked focus from the beginning.
But back to last night.
Harper hit a bomb off Braves starter Julio Teheran, and Harper took a few seconds to enjoy it. Everyone who’s watched baseball for a little while knows what happens next: Harper’s getting hit. This is the rule of the land, like getting boo’d wearing an Eagles jersey in the FedEx parking lots.
Don’t lie to yourself and say Harper didn’t show up Teheran, he did, we all saw it.
The worst part of what happened next, Harper didn’t actually want to fight. Sure he wanted to shout and shove and do all the normal bullshit you see from a “fight” on an episode of Real World/Road Rules Challenge, where nobody wants to throw a punch lest they mess up perfect jaw structure.
I’m not advocating to fight, but the choices are either take your base — perhaps with a menacing stare — or charge the mound. Ask Robin Ventura. You can’t half-ass the situation, which is exactly what Bryce and the Nats did.
The far bigger issue, lost somewhere between Bryce Harper’s mustache and Davey Johnson’s feigned interest, is that the Nats continually get caught up in petty bullshit. You want to be mad about getting hit by a pitch?? Win the game. Want to be mad about firing the hitting coach?? Hit better. Upset about questions on errors and misplayed balls?? Field better.
You know who hasn’t been caught up in the petty bullshit?? The Braves, winners of 12 straight and the team way out in front of the NL East.
The Nats have been stiff all year, likely a result of reading spring press clippings that had them in the World Series and without a player in the clubhouse to loosen things up. That guy was Michael Morse, and injured or not, he was the guy this team needed, not only for his bat but to make things fun. At any point has this year’s Nats squad resembled the Beast Mode-goofball team from 2012? Evidence points to no.
Likely none of it matters now. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Nats have a 2.3 percent chance of making the playoffs. They’re cooked.
Next year a new skipper will be in Natstown, but certainly this season didn’t crater because of Davey. A talented team will play baseball on South Capital Street next season, but without focus, it’s unlikely 2014 will look much different than 2013.