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The Hunter Strickland-Bryce Harper feud revisited: How we got here

The Hunter Strickland-Bryce Harper feud revisited: How we got here

Bryce Harper stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning on May 29, 2017. Opposite him, San Francisco's Hunter Strickland prepared his pitch.

Except, that pitch never crossed the plate. 

Instead, Harper wore the first pitch of that at-bat on his hip, a 98 MPH fastball that surely left a mark, and a series of events was put into motion that cleared all the benches and forced one player into retirement.

But to understand the ensuing madness, and to understand why Strickland even hit Harper in the first place, it's important to go back three years to Oct. 7, 2014...

It was the fourth game of the NLDS between San Francisco and Washington. Harper went yard against Strickland for a second time in the series, this time a game-tying knock into McCovey Cove outside AT&T Park. 

During Game 1 at Nationals Park on Oct. 3, Harper rode a 97-mph fastball from Strickland deep to right field (445 feet deep to be exact) in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Needless to say, Strickland wasn't too happy about the homer, nor the way Harper stood in the box, then strode around the bases, pretty clearly glaring at Strickland between first and second base.

Between Harper's two home runs and the hit-by-pitch, Harper and Strickland exchanges their opinions (via. the sports journalism industry, because of course). Harper was tired of baseball's "unwritten rules" hindering individual expression (like pimping a home run, etc.), while Strickland said it wasn't his "place to judge the rules."

And so, on May 29, 2017, Strickland attempted to enforce those "unwritten rules" by hitting Harper, while Harper tried to fight for himself and charged the mound.

What followed was nothing less than a total mess. Harper's way off-line helmet throw went down as one of the funniest Harper incidents to that point. The benches-clearing brawl left Strickland with a six-game suspension and Harper with a four-game suspension, plus former National Michael Morse with a career-ending concussion. 

In a Feb. 2018 interview, Strickland tabbed the "Harper incident" as a mistake.

Just over a year later, Harper signed a then-unprecedented 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies.

Then, at the trade deadline the Nationals acquired Strickland from the Mariners in exchange for minor-leaguer Aaron Fletcher. 

The two teams face off for the first time since the trade deadline on Monday, the opener of the five-game series in Washington, as the Nationals fight to maintain their position atop the NL Wild Card race and the Phillies clamber for a last-ditch grasp at a Wild Card bid. 


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Davey Martinez returns to Nationals dugout for road series vs. Marlins

Davey Martinez returns to Nationals dugout for road series vs. Marlins

Davey Martinez will be back in the dugout Friday.

The Nationals announced their manager's return late Friday morning. Martinez did not manage the team in St. Louis because he required medical attention after feeling chest pain Sunday.

Chip Hale managed the three-game series against the Cardinals while Martinez remained in Washington. He was hospitalized Sunday and Monday. On Monday, Martinez underwent a minor heart procedure called cardiac catheterization.

According to the Mayo Clinic, cardiac catheterization "is a procedure used to diagnose and treat certain cardiovascular conditions. During cardiac catheterization, a long thin tube called a catheter is inserted in an artery or vein in your groin, neck or arm and threaded through your blood vessels to your heart.

"Using this catheter, doctors can then do diagnostic tests as part of a cardiac catheterization. Some heart disease treatments, such as coronary angioplasty and coronary stenting, also are done using cardiac catheterization."

Initially, Martinez was expected to rejoin the team in St. Louis. However, Martinez, 54, needed further testing, treatment and rest before being cleared to travel and work.

Martinez left Sunday’s series finale against the Atlanta Braves in the sixth inning because he was not feeling well. He went to a local hospital for further examinations upon the recommendation from Nationals medical staff.

He rejoins the 83-68 Nationals with a one-game lead in the wild-card race for the right to host a do-or-die game on Oct. 1. Just 11 games remain in Martinez's second season as manager.


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Mark DeRosa thinks the Nationals could 'absolutely' make a run to the World Series

Mark DeRosa thinks the Nationals could 'absolutely' make a run to the World Series

Mark DeRosa, former utility infielder for the Nationals and MLB Network analyst and co-host of MLB Central, stated that the 2012 roster could have won the World Series. But could the 2019 team accomplish this feat?

DeRosa joined Tim Shovers and Chase Hughes on the latest edition of the Nationals Talk podcast, where he analyzed the 2019 incarnation of the team and how they've handled the season.


To start, DeRosa explained that having guys like Gerardo Parra, now known for his Baby Shark antics, is key to keeping a locker room loose during a grinding year.

"That stuff matters," DeRosa clarified. "Anyone that tells you it doesn't is lying."

It matters more when the team is gunning for a playoff spot, especially because DeRosa thinks the Nats "absolutely" could make a run at a World Series title.

DeRosa hedged his bets to start. "A betting man would tell you to take the Dodgers," DeRosa noted. "But, no one wants to see that pitching staff. They got a couple aircraft carriers in their lineup and it's gelling. The chemistry's right, Soto's a beast, Rendon's been, any other year he could be the National League MVP, so yeah, 100 percent, would not shock me."

When it comes to Anthony Rendon's impending free agency, DeRosa noted: "I would never say anything's an absolute must." But, unlike Bryce Harper, who has ups and downs, Rendon is more consistent, and the Nats need to keep that consistency in their lineup. 

"Anthony's got a rhythm about him. [He] never gets too high, never gets too low," DeRosa said. "He's gotta stay."

For the Wild Card game, should the Nats hold on, DeRosa is going all-in on one guy: "Max."

And if they win, DeRosa thinks the Nats rotation helps. "I like Stras (Stephen Strasburg) Game 1 against the Dodgers," DeRosa said.