It’s not that often you see a real baseball brawl. We’re not talking about a benches-clearing incident where players push and shove and act out their best “hold me back, bro,” stance. We’re talking about actual punches being thrown. The type of fight that results in lengthy suspensions.
All of that happened Monday during the Washington Nationals’ 3-0 win over the San Francisco Giants. In the top of the eighth inning, chaos erupted after Bryce Harper was hit in the hip by a pitch from Hunter Strickland.
There was, clearly, a lot going on during the brawl. Not just with Harper and Strickland, but with many of the other players who eagerly (or reluctantly) jumped into the fray. Upon first glance, it’s tough to get a good idea of all the crazy things that took place during the fight.
No need to worry, though, The Stew is here to help you out. We’ve pored over the footage and compiled the nine most ridiculous moments from the Harper/Strickland brawl.
Don’t take this as us condoning violence. Baseball brawls are incredibly stupid and can be easily avoided if the league made it a priority. We’re merely here to point out some of the moments you might have missed your first time watching the video.
— Mike Gianella (@MikeGianella) May 29, 2017
THE THROWN HELMET
Boy, that escalated quickly. After getting hit, Harper briefly exchanged words at Stickland before deciding it was go time. But instead of bringing his bat to the mound, Harper had another idea. He grabbed his helmet in his right hand and charged Strickland. As he approached the 6-4, 220 reliever, Harper wildly hurled the helmet at his target. He missed by a laughable distance. The helmet casually flew about 10 feet to Strickland’s left. It didn’t even come close to hitting him.
This was no ordinary baseball pushing and shoving match. This was an actual brawl. There was physical violence. After the errant helmet toss, Harper takes an open hand from Strickland to the face. Harper returns the favor by landing a punch directly to Strickland’s jaw. If the whole thing was reminiscent of the Jose Bautista/Rougned Odor fight, well, it probably should be. Both fights produced eerily similar pictures.
Bryce Harper goes after Hunter Strickland after an HBP and then Mike Morse and Jeff Samardzija are collateral damage. pic.twitter.com/jton90huP5
— Nick Bromberg (@NickBromberg) May 29, 2017
JEFF SAMARDZIJA AND MICHAEL MORSE COLLIDE
Harper and Strickland weren’t the only ones in pain following the skirmish. In an attempt to calm down their teammate, Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse ran right into each other. The two smacked heads, causing Samardzija’s cap to fall off as he went to the ground. That’s one hell of a collision too. Samardzija is listed at 6-5, 225 pounds. Morse is 6-5, 245 pounds. Thank goodness Joe Panik wasn’t involved. He would have been crushed into another dimension.
Buster Posey: “Nah.” pic.twitter.com/qf4oVFvVTi
— Drew Silva (@drewsilv) May 29, 2017
BUSTER POSEY IS TOO OLD FOR THIS STUFF
Brawls like this rarely have a chance to occur because the catcher usually stops the angry hitter from reaching the mound. That was not the case here. Posey merely stood behind the plate and watched the entire brawl unfold. He barely moved when Harper charged the mound, and stood by idly as everyone else got involved.
“Guys….quit it.” pic.twitter.com/Ock1F7DO7a
— Mike Foster???? (@scout_6) May 29, 2017
Posey will undoubtedly be criticized by some who demand he protect his pitcher, but why? He’s merely doing what any one of us would have done in the same situation. Buster Posey has seen and experienced far too much during his career, and he’s not risking injury by getting involved in a dumb fight.
He’s playing the Danny Glover role from “Lethal Weapon.” He’s just too old for this … uh … stuff. It’s not worth getting punched in the face over someone else’s grudge. Posey’s actions will inspire plenty of Internet Tough Guys™ to regale us with their heroic actions of past brawls from their glory days, but the truth is, many of us would act like Posey here. All of this is stupid and he knows it.
— Nathan Lean (@nathanlean) May 29, 2017
RYAN ZIMMERMAN: PEACEKEEPER
Veteran first baseman Ryan Zimmerman played peacekeeper, grabbing Harper and dragging him away from the fight. The picture of the two embracing each other led to some fun takes. They were compared to two high school students at prom and stars of the next Roadhouse film. To us, it looks like a promotional photo of a good cop, bad cop routine from their upcoming D.C. police drama “Capital Cops.” We would watch that.
HUNTER STRICKLAND’S FURY
While Harper cooled down immediately after Zimmerman reached him, Strickland remained furious. It took three to four Giants just to get Strickland off the field. All the while, he was struggling and fighting to get back into the fray. He came dangerously close to punching some of his own teammates, even shoving his hand in Hunter Pence’s face at one point.
The Hunter on Hunter violence wasn’t Strickland’s best moment. Even the Giants announcers thought he was “out of control.”
MORE LIKE SAD BUM
Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner has a bit of a reputation as an enforcer. The ace has mixed it up a number of times, but has never engaged in a full-blown brawl. If there was any chance for him to unleash his inner Paul Bunyan and throw down, this was it. Instead, he did this.
GIF: Madison Bumgarner can’t join the fight and it’s killing him pic.twitter.com/sKEgoDlpmV
— Carmen Kiew (@carmenkiew) May 29, 2017
Yeah, Bumgarner couldn’t get involved in the fracas. He’s nursing injured ribs and couldn’t risk aggravating the issue. He just stands at the dugout fence, staring wistfully as his teammates pore onto the field. Once he realizes there’s nothing he can do, Bumgarner sadly turns and walks to the clubhouse.
Meanwhile, Bryce’s wife Kayla can’t be bothered ???? pic.twitter.com/yUU8vKjacf
— SB Nation (@SBNation) May 30, 2017
BRYCE HARPER’S WIFE DOES NOT CARE
It has to be weird to hear your husband got into a fist fight at work. But Harper’s wife, Kayla, didn’t seem bothered by it. From the look of it, Kayla is possibly on vacation. And she’s not letting her husband’s silly fight interfere with that. We don’t know the best way to handle this type of situation, but saying “screw it, I’m on vacation” is OK with us.
THE WHOLE THING STARTED DUE TO A THREE-YEAR GRUDGE
Now for the dumbest part of this whole thing. The fight between Harper and Strickland started because Strickland couldn’t let go of a three-year grudge. Monday’s plate appearance was only the third time the two faced each other. The previous two appearances came in the 2014 National League Division Series. Harper took Strickland deep in both at-bats, one of which tied Game 4 in the seventh inning. Ultimately, Strickland’s team got the last laugh, as the Giants defeated the Nationals to move on. They would eventually win the World Series a few weeks later.
That wasn’t enough for Strickland, who was apparently still mad about the homers. He got his revenge Monday, and paid for it with a punch to the face and an ejection. He’ll literally pay for it once the league suspends him.
This isn’t to excuse Harper’s actions, either. He’s just as much to blame here. Throwing his helmet at another player was incredibly dumb. Throwing punches was too, though, whether you like it or not, generally accepted within the game in these situations.
All that for something that happened three years ago. Seems petty, childish and entirely avoidable, no?
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