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Guillen calls Harper 'unprofessional'

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Guillen calls Harper 'unprofessional'

MIAMI -- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen lashed out at Bryce Harper following today's game, calling the Nationals rookie "unprofessional" apparently for using too much pine tar on his bat.

"I could have said a lot of stuff about this kid," Guillen said following his team's 4-0 loss to the Nationals. "I've been praising this kid like every day. The last three times they asked me about him, the only thing I said was he's a great player. What he did today was unprofessional."

What did Harper do to upset Guillen? He apparently stepped to the plate in the top of the first inning with pine tar too far up the barrel of his bat. Guillen alerted the umpiring crew, which informed the Nationals, who had Harper change to another bat for his second at-bat.

But when Harper came up to hit in the top of the third, he pointed his bat toward the Miami dugout. Guillen started yelling from his perch, first at Harper and then at Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

"I was just telling him how cute he was," Guillen said, refusing to divulge details. "Something happened there the inning before, and I didn't like it and I was talking to the umpire about it."

The Nationals didn't understand what Guillen was so upset about.

"Ozzie had complained that the pine tar was too high up on Harper's bat, so we changed it," Johnson said. "Then he was still chirping about it. It got on the umpire's nerves. It got on my nerves. He was trying to intimidate my player, I guess. That's not going to bother our player. He does what he has to do."

Harper, who went 0-for-4 during the victory, stayed above the fray after the game.

"He battles for his team, and that's the type of manager Ozzie is," the 19-year-old All-Star said. "He's a great manager to play for. He's going to battle for you, no matter what. That's a manager you want to play for."

Major League Baseball Rule 1.10(c) restricts players from putting pine tar on their bats more than 18 inches from the handle, an infraction most notably associated with Hall of Famer George Brett (who happens to be one of Harper's favorite players).

"It's such a fine line," Johnson said. "They put the pine tar, it's only supposed to be at the top of the label. Some guys, it might be over half an inch or something. There's still a foot of the barrel to hit it with. If you hit it on the pine tar, it's going to shatter everything. They replace the ball all the time, anyways. What's the big deal?"

Johnson, of course, made enemies with Rays manager Joe Maddon last month when he got Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta ejected for having too much pine tar in his glove.

What residual effect might there be from this incident? Nobody was saying, but Guillen suggested he would be having a chat with Johnson at some point.

"I'm not going to tell you guys what he did, because I'm not going to be talking about it on ESPN, Baseball Tonight, what happened again," the Miami manager said. "I'll just leave it like that. I'll talk to his manager in a little while."

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

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With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.