Paplebon’s Notorious Act and the Hubris of the Washington Nationals
Remember when we loved the Washington Nationals because we liked them? Back when they were appealing not appalling? They were quirky and funny- they were close, they had each other’s backs and they were winners.
I prefer the photo of Bryce Harper hitting a towering home run into the upper deck in right field to the picture of Jonathan Paplebon strangling his young teammate in the dugout. That horrific and iconic image is part of baseball lore now- for all of time. Nice touch too that this historic bit of notoriousness happened on Fan Appreciation Day.
The Nationals do understand that much of the adoration for Bryce Harper comes from kids, right? Little 8, 9, 10 year-olds? We would know these people as children, traditionally a key ingredient to the quintessential family experience that is a day at the ballpark. Well, those kids were horrified and shaken by that blatant act of violence. Hell, I know ADULTS who had trouble sleeping Sunday night after seeing replays of what would surely be considered felony assault in a court of law. Imagine a Little Leaguer seeing never-ending spools of GIF’s of their hero being attacked by that wide-eyed, psychotic creep.
That Mike Rizzo, based on his news conference today, is even considering keeping Paplebon next year is an insult to the fan base and a display of hubris that is difficult to describe for its breathless arrogance.
Rizzo seems hell-bent on keeping Matt Williams too, excusing the underperforming season on all the injuries the team incurred. A fine rationalization, I suppose, except that 95% of the lineup was back in place when the Nats were swept home and away by the NL East Division Champion, New York Mets. That wasn’t injuries. That was a heaping pile of bullpen that in the closing stretch would also cost the club two games to the Cardinals and two games to the Orioles.
But there is much more here that’s nagging at people’s hearts these days about the Nationals than managerial calls, poorly executed bullpen development and deployment or ill-advised desperation late-inning bunt attempts.
It’s about character. Character really does matter. It is an intangible. But we know it when we see it. And right now, in the despicable public act Paplebon committed- in the continuing arrogance and inability to admit error displayed now by both Williams and Rizzo- what we see is a disturbing picture, deeply offensive to children of all ages.