Before we get to the “action” we have to acknowledge that Tanner Roark pitched seven shut out innings, the Nationals bullpen showed some grit, including Shawn Kelley pitching out of a bases loaded 8th and Koda Glover with his nasty slider. On the Giants end, Matt Moore looked pretty good as well, although the final score doesn’t really reflect it. Their bullpen also did not give the game up, well sort of.
If by some chance you do not have Twitter or are miraculously without any social media channel in 2017, then you probably didn’t hear that Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland got into a bench clearing brawl today. No worries, I’m sure it will make the sports section of any news station tomorrow morning.
In case you missed it, here it is:
Harper v. Strickland pic.twitter.com/jNgfTlSmXj
— Morgan Bagg (@MorganBagg) May 29, 2017
Now, I enjoy some “extracurricular” activity in a game as much as the next person. I mean, I am a hockey fan, but today was just ridiculous. Giants were down 2-0, and here comes Hunter Strickland. Here comes Harper. MASN’s F.P. Santangelo set it up going to commercial, talking about the history between the two. In case you weren’t there for the 2014 series, that ultimately ended up with the Giants prevailing and going on to win the World Series, here is a brief recap:
This was the first time Hunter Strickland had faced Bryce Harper since the 2014 NLDS, when he went 2 for 2 with two monster homers off him.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 29, 2017
Now let me preface this next bit with, Bryce Harper had zero business throwing his helmet (if that’s what you’d call a throw). I agree with that. It was a reckless decision and he should be relieved that helmet landed well outside.
However, I’d argue that while people love telling me what a terrible person they think Harper is, I’ve seen him do a lot more than just stare at a pitcher when rounding the bases. And for the record, any person telling me that they would let a pitcher hit them with a 90mph fastball and not have some instinct to go stand up for oneself, they’re lying. It’s a fight or flight moment, and Harper, who is not well known for being the most level headed on the field by any means, opted to fight.
So here’s why Hunter Strickland is wrong:
In his post game conference, Strickland insisted that he was just trying to go inside.
Hunter Strickland’s postgame reaction to the fight: pic.twitter.com/kaolXjX2U9
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 29, 2017
I’m going to go ahead and call bull on that one. Of the 20 games Strickland has come in this year, the first player he hits? Bryce Harper. Add on to the fact that when most pitchers lose control, the pitch goes upstairs most of the time (not always, I know). As Harper even acknowledged in his post game:
He hit me in the right spot. I do respect him for that. He didn’t come up and in at my face..
Looked like a perfectly square fastball to the hip, but sure, everyone will see what they want to see.
Moving on to the subject of Buster Posey
You could dig through a TON of video of batters charging the mound. Natural reaction for a guy coming at your teammate? Step on in there and try to drag the batter back. What did Posey do? He stood there, as he should of. Coupled with the fact that Strickland was harboring some 3-year grudge, and Posey just back from a concussion, he wanted zero part of it. Good for him.
And believe me, I heard all about people saying “your teammate is your teammate, no matter what.” WRONG. If your teammate acts like a moron and takes things into his “own hand” (literally) you do not defend him. Look at Dustin Pedroia and Matt Barnes. I do not know what Posey knew before the at bat, but his actions do show that Strickland’s pitch was not worth defending.
It’s Time to Move On
While Strickland will never admit openly that he had 2014 fresh in his mind when he faced Harper today, everyone else seemed to go there. So let us go there. Having never been an MLB pitcher, I cannot relate to getting lit up by two home runs. However, having been an athlete, I can relate to being competitive as hell. We get it, it was probably super embarrassing to have that happen not in just any game, but the playoffs. Ultimate payback? Strike out Harper (because he hates that) and then help your team to potentially win the game at hand.
Want to know who hangs on to 3 year old grudges? Girls. And no that is not sexist, it is from personal experience as well as movies, general history, etc. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” they say. Well pitchers who get lit up for two home runs might have something to say about that, apparently. Honestly, seems like something absolutely absurd to hold on to, and like I said, we will never know with 100% certainty that is the reason that HBP went down, but the timing seems fishy seeing as though Strickland and Harper haven’t faced each other since 2014.
Ready for the kicker? Coupled with the fact that his team lost and there could be potential injury to his teammates involved in the actual fighting, teammates who had to forcibly drag him off the field could also face some consequences. Namely, Hunter Pence, who is on the DL currently, will be subjected to a fine for coming on the field.
Not only all that, but as Bruce Bochy acknowledged:
That cost us a run, by the way. That could have played a huge role in this game.
Solid job Hunter Strickland, solid job.
Thankfully, it does not appear that there were any major injuries. This was game one of the series, so it should be interesting to see what else, if anything, transpires. Hopefully the Nationals can move forward and take the high road and get out with some curly W’s. We can also be thankful that we got some absolute gems from Twitter from this.
When you've been waiting for this moment for years but you have a shoulder sprain and bruised ribs. pic.twitter.com/usMCuo0urm
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 29, 2017
Hire MASN to take your prom photos!! pic.twitter.com/R286VR8ltp
— Mina (@maddc8) May 29, 2017
Who knows! Maybe Hunter Strickland was sending a message to not just Harper, but all other batters. Maybe he was telling them “Hey you, if you hit 2 home runs against me, I will hit you.”
Seeing as Bryce Harper opted to punch him in the face today, it should be interesting to see what fireworks go off the next time these 2 face each other in the batter’s box.