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Bryce Harper says heckling Nationals fans crossed a line

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The Phillies and Nationals just kicked off the finale of their five-game series in Washington, with the Nationals looking for the series sweep. That will put the finishing touches on a season series in which the Nationals have thoroughly dismantled the Phillies, winning 13 of 18 games entering Thursday’s action.

The season series, of course, had intrigue beyond the division rivalry. Outfielder Bryce Harper left the Nationals to enter free agency and ended up signing with the Phillies on a then-record 13-year, $330 million contract. The two previous times Harper has returned to Washington, D.C. this year, as a visiting player, he has heard boos and heckling, but he seemed to take it in stride. However, last night, with the Nationals having already wrapped up a playoff berth and ended the Phillies’ playoff hopes, Harper says Nationals fans in right field were particularly nasty, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports.

Harper said, “They were fine all game talking about myself and things like that. I mean, I get it everywhere I go. It’s nothing new, but the last inning – it’s just not right. It’s just not right.”

Harper wouldn’t elaborate on what the fans said specifically that was so offensive, but his wife Kayla tweeted, “When you bring his son or family into it, yes you’re crossing a line.”

Responding to several people on Twitter, Kayla added that the family-directed heckling hasn’t been from just one person and said, “It’s been going on all season.” She also said to someone who expressed skepticism over her claim, “I truly doubt you are aware of the [direct messages] I have gotten from nats fans all season. Wishing my son has autism when he’s born for example. So yes all season.”

Bryce and Kayla had their first child, Krew Aron, last month.

Bryce said, “That’s part of sports. I guess that’s what it is nowadays.” Later on, he said, “Individually you go out there and don’t really worry about what they’re saying. But there are times – it’s just not good and just not right. Everybody has a platform now whether it’s Twitter, Instagram or in the stands. They kind of say whatever they want and that’s just how it is. You kind of have to live with it. You see it in the NBA, you see it in the NFL and you see it here now and I guess it is just part of sports now.”

Max Scherzer: ‘There’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions’

Max Scherzer
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MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.

Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.

Scherzer’s statement:

After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.

Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.

Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.