Harper gets ban reduced by 1 game
Drops appeal of 3-game suspension
Bryce Harper’s four-game suspension was reduced to three games following an appeal. The Washington Nationals’ MVP candidate accepted that ruling and sat out Wednesday night’s finale against the San Francisco Giants, and will sit out the first two games of a three-game series with the Oakland A’s, which begins Friday.
Harper was suspended for charging the mound in the eighth inning of Monday’s game after San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland hit Harper in the rear with a 98 mph fastball. The Nationals were leading, 2-0, at the time.
Harper and Strickland had distant history with each other. Harper hit two home runs off Strickland — who allowed a postseason record six home runs in 2014 — when the teams played in the National League Division Series that year. The Giants won the series and World Series that season. Strickland claimed he was trying to pitch inside to Harper on Monday. It’s hard to find someone who believes him.
Strickland was suspended six games for his participation in the fiasco. His pitch — and apparently singular decision not supported by the actions of San Francisco catcher Buster Posey and comments from manager Bruce Bochy afterward — led to a fist fight between him and Harper, players from both sides sprinting onto the field and one of Strickland’s teammates, Michael Morse, receiving a concussion during the melee.
Strickland has also appealed his suspension. There was no word Wednesday
if it would be reduced.
The incident sparked multiple layers of discussion. Should Harper have been suspended at all, and, if so, was his suspension excessive? Should the league do more to prevent rare, dugoutemptying brawls? If Harper had not charged the mound, would Strickland have been reprimanded in any way? Is there a more fair mechanism for time of suspension when comparing an every day player to a reliever?
Strickland had pitched five innings in the previous 16 days. Harper, an MVP candidate, had 44 atbats. The Giants will lose a reliever for roughly five innings or fewer if Strickland’s suspension stands. Washington loses its right fielder for 27 innings.
The discipline delivered by MLB’s chief baseball officer, Joe Torre, showed the league viewed Strickland as primarily responsible for the incident. It also showed that the league will not tolerate one of its stars getting in an on-field fist fight, no matter what spurred the situation.
The break for Harper comes amid a small slump. He is hitting just .143 during the last seven days. Harper was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and eight men left on base Tuesday night against the Giants. He is hitting .322 with 15 home runs this season.
The suspension and upcoming schedule will provide him with four days off. He will return to the Nationals’ lineup Sunday against Oakland. Serving the suspension now allows Harper to be prepared for the Nationals’ three-game series in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. It is the first meeting between the teams since Los Angeles beat Washington, 3-2, in last season’s National League Division Series.
Washington Nationals oufielder Bryce Harper began his three-game suspension on Wednesday for his involvement in Monday’s fight with Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland.