DOUBLE TAKE: The Nationals have choked and not just figuratively

Matt Algarin and Andrew Metz
Matt Algarin and Andrew Metz

Matt's Take:

Could it possibly get much worse for the Washington Nationals?

They've gone from World Series contenders to chumps this season. Sure, they are 80-76, but they are nine games behind the New York Mets in the National League East and 11 games behind in the Wild Card race.

The Nationals are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, so needless to say they are hot.

But you know what else is impressive? Instead of taking their frustrations out on the other team, the Nationals are taking it out on each other.

During Sunday's game, closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a gasket and went all WWE on fellow National Bryce Harper. This was the choke heard, and seen, round the world.

Pabelbon was crazed, driving toward the star and grabbing Harper by the throat. The scuffle the ensued was pretty intense, as the two players had to be separated by teammates.

I'd say the whole situation about sums up the Nationals season. Needless to say, Major League Baseball acted pretty swiftly, suspending Pabelbon for four games.

Thankfully the Nationals are out of the race, so it won't matter much having Papelbon on the shelf.

With an $11 million option for next season, I'd be surprised if Papelbon is on the Nationals roster next year. But with 349 career saves to his name, perhaps the Nationals let the incident fly.

At least if it doesn't work out for Papelbon in Washington, he can ring up Vince McMahon. The WWE loves celebrity wrestlers, so I'm sure the two sides can work something out.

Andrew’s Take:

Someone put a little hockey in my baseball.

I may sometimes say that I want to pummel certain people, but I definitely don’t support a physical altercation. I’m an adult, and I can resolve a situation with my words.

I’ll make an exception for Bryce Harper.

I’m not saying that I could handle Harper, but I’m really happy that Jonathan Papelbon can.

After Harper loafed a fly ball, Papelbon called him out. Not in a press conference, or on Twitter. When Harper got back to the dugout, Papelbon was waiting on him.

Harper said something back, and then Papelbon went for the jugular, literally.

The Washington Nationals have levied a four-game suspension against their veteran pitcher, which will start after he finishes a three-game suspension for throwing at Manny Machado’s dome.

Papelbon should have received four games worth of bonus pay.

In a world where baseball players can’t match the popularity of LeBron James or Rob Gronkowski, the MLB needs someone to man up, and I can’t think of anyone better than Jonathan Papelbon. The Nationals are becoming perennial disappointments, and “leadership” is clearly the main issue. Why not let a guy bend the rules, and make a statement?

Harper is 22, and his biggest concern is his hair. Seriously, when he gets back to the dugout, whether he just homered or struck out, he makes sure that he is perfectly positioned towards a camera to spray some water in his quaff.

Papelbon is 34. He’s won a World Series. He’s been there, done that and river danced to celebrate.

When Papelbon went after Harper, he did a world of good. Everyone in the sports world is talking about this baseball story just as football takes off.

And now, as a group of young stars take over Major League Baseball, they have an example of what not to do on the field, because someone will be waiting for you off the field.