This is hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Mike Trout‘s teammates thought the phenom needed to be taken down a peg.
In spring training 2011, before Trout had ever played a game in the major leagues, Jered Weaver arranged for the scoreboard to repeatedly display this message: “Fans call Angels’ Mike Trout directly with your baseball questions,” followed by Trout’s cellphone number.
There is no comparison between a pointed prank and a dugout fight, but the reaction to Sunday’s incident between Washington Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon and star outfielder — and presumptive National League most valuable player — Bryce Harper revealed that there remains some segment of veteran players that wants young stars to be seen but not heard.
In a provocative column for Fox Sports, former major league pitcher C.J. Nitkowski traced the roots of Papelbon’s discontent with Harper, how it boiled over into a fight, and why a fair number of current and former players empathized with Papelbon.
As LaTroy Hawkins, the Toronto Blue Jays’ 42-year-old relief pitcher and one of baseball’s most popular teammates, tweeted in response to Nitkowski: “loved the article CJ, Pap will take a beating for this from everyone who doesn’t play the game.
Harper’s teammates have had issues with him previously, although Washington Post columnist Adam Kilgore wrote this Monday: “That version of Harper does not exist anymore.” And it is entirely fair to ask why a 22-year-old failing to run hard is a sin but a 32-year-old failing to run out a ball is a perk.
Might be time to rewrite baseball’s unwritten rules. We can all agree on this, though: Baseball’s most disappointing team this season now has an undisputed defining image.