No, Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer were not mocking Papelbon

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Something funny happened in the Nationals dugout last night. Before the game, Max Scherzer went up to Bryce Harper in the dugout and put his hands around Harper’s neck. And they both had a laugh about it.

One’s first impulse would be to assume that Scherzer and Harper were having a little fun about the whole Harper-Papelbon-choking thing from Sunday. And, indeed, it was the first impulse of many like Fox:

And ESPN:

And the New York Post:

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But it’s only eyebrow raising if you don’t know any better. Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post — and, I am sure, many others who cover the Nationals regularly — know better. Steinberg writes that Scherzer and Harper have been doing this pretend-choking thing for several weeks, long before Papelbon went ape on Harper. And he provides photographic and video examples.

So, stand down, Internet. Stay vigilant for another tongue-wagging moment. This is nothing more than some good old fashioned good chemistry in the Nationals dugout. For a change.