For some reason there is a feeling around Major League Baseball that the Washington Nationals are a cocky team that needs to be put in their place. Some teams are almost gleeful that Washington will likely not be able to make a return to the postseason in 2013. That misplaced anger has manifested itself in a series of National League pitchers beaning Nationals hitters.
The latest case in point came in last night’s 3-2 win over the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park. It happened in the bottom of the first inning as the Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was hit on the left shoulder with a 3-0 pitch from Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez after Bryce Harper hit a three-run home run that gave Washington a 3-1 lead.
The hitting of Desmond is the fourth time a Nationals player has been intentionally plunked in a little over a month. We all remember the home and home series with the Atlanta Braves earlier in the season where Bryce Harper got hit three times in two games for admiring a home run too long. Then the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg hit Justin Upton in retaliation for a home run he admired the night before.
The Nationals are crashing the party, and some teams, front office executives and owners simply do not like it. Some managers did not like Davey Johnson proclaiming before the season it was “World Series or Bust for Washington.” There were front office people that were still angry with vice president of baseball operations and general manager Mike Rizzo for shutting down star pitcher Stephen Strasburg during 2012 playoff race.
There were owners still miffed at the Lerner Family (the Nationals owners) for paying their draft choices more money than was considered fair market value and thus driving up the cost of signing players for other teams. No matter what the reason may be, clearly the Nationals’ success has generated some jealousy from a number of folks in baseball.
Well teams better get used to the Nationals being a perennial contender, because the problems they had this season are easily fixed and in 2014 they should back in the playoffs.