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      Smack Zone — Baseball's Unwritten Rules

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      The Nats are a Clown Team, Bro

      [caption id="attachment_1128" align="alignright" width="300"]Papelbon: Papelbon: "Hey, bro, run that out!" Harper: "Hey, bro, F you!" Papelbon: "No, bro, F you!" And then they danced.[/caption] So, the Washington Nationals' star player didn'tΒ exactly bust it down the line on a can-o-corn pop-out late in yet another disappointing chapter in what was supposed to be their year. It's Bryce Harper, dude. He's going to be the National League's MVP this year -- and many more years in the future. Surely, he can jog one out here and there? Um, no. That's not the way it's done. That's a BS way to play the game, and anybody who knows baseball knows that. Cubs manager Joe Maddon, during his time with the Rays, was known to pull dudes on the spot for not busting it down the first-base line. You going to argue with Joe Ma about the unwritten rules of the game? Hustle is mandatory, and you'd think a manager like Matt Williams, who was known to be a hard-ass as a player, would want more from his young leader. And maybe Williams might have said something later. But ... Then, recently acquired closer Jonathan Papelbon decided to "show leadership." Bad idea. Remember Harper's snide response to a reporter's question a few years ago? "That's a clown question, bro." You know what? The Nationals are now perceived as a clown team, bro. That's a reflection of Williams, certainly, but at some point the superstar needs to step up and stop acting like a nonchalant kid. This piece for Fox Sports by former pitcher C.J. Nitkowski sums up the feeling around baseball: Players Overwhelmingly Support Papelbon. That said, Papelbon was an idiot (it came naturally, we're sure, based on his Red Sox history). He acknowledged later that it wasn't his place to admonish Harper in that spot, that it's Williams' job to do that. And oh, this: Stop choking dudes, Pap. Too late, though. Washington's collapse was completeΒ last week when the Mets clinched the NL East. This is the fallout. And it ain't pretty.

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