There was no reason for the Washington Nationals to play Saturday’s game against the San Francisco Giants.  Zero.

The Nationals have a 14.5 game lead in the National League East.  The Giants are in last place in the NL West.  This game had zero effect on the standings.  Yet, because of ,for whatever reason, the MLB’s brass in New York City decided after a three-hour rain delay and a rain-out the previous day that the game MUST go on.

Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper, second from right, is helped off the field after he was injured during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Because of that, we—and  I don’t mean just Nats fans, I mean everyone—will possibly have to watch the team without its face, baseball’s face Bryce Harper for the foreseeable future.  The injury occurred in the first inning, which started about 10 p.m. while still drizzling, as Harper tried to leg out an infield single.  He slipped on the wet base and his knee seemed to buckle or hyperextend, which caused him to bounce in the air and flip onto his back as horrified onlookers gasped.

You could hear a pin drop as Harper wallowed in pain.  You could also hear the groan from the thousands of D.C. sports fans saying “Not again!” for seemingly the 8,000th time.  You also heard other fans, such as myself, wondering why the game was even played in the first place.

Money grabs come from all sources, and I understand pro sports is a business, but this isn’t the first time the Nationals have had an issue with terrible decision making when it comes to dealing with the weather and calling games or not.  There have been issues where games have been called BEFORE rain arrives and eventually the rain doesn’t.  There have been extended rain delays where games have not ended until well after 1:00 a.m.  Whoever is in charge of making these decisions may need their job status questioned.  There does not seem to be this sort of issue with any other team in baseball, only the Nationals.  

The Nationals as a whole are a well run organization from top to bottom.  You don’t have an extended level of success as the team has without it having competent staff.  But there are instances such as this that the team seems ill-prepared or worse, do not care for the well-being of the fans nor care that a star player could be lost for the season with a devastating knee injury for the second time in two seasons (Wilson Ramos last season).

For as great of a season other players are having, it’s Bryce that stirs the drink.  He’s the spark plug.  He’s the leader on the field and the team’s most energetic presence.  He is a star, point blank.  Combined with all of the other injuries on the roster, this loss would be catastrophic.

As I’m typing this, I along with all of Nats Nation are breathing a sigh of relief that Harper’s MRI proved he sustained a bone bruise rather than tendon or ligament damage.  Nats management say they are optimistic he will return to action later this season. If he doesn’t, it would be a damn shame that this season’s hopes and aspirations could basically end because of an idiotic administrative decision.

Dion Johnson

Special to the AFRO