After an eighth-inning fly out, Papelbon could be seen saying "you gotta run that f------ ball out" to Harper, who didn't care for the comments. Harper then started going back verbally at Papelbon, who responded by physically going after Harper with what could be described as a two-handed choke hold.
The two were separated by teammates and coaches.
The moving pictures:
Papelbon then went out to pitch the ninth while Harper was removed from the game. Papelbon then allowed a go ahead home run to Phillies third baseman Andres Blanco in the ninth. He then allowed the bases to load before manager Matt Williams took him out to a loud round of boos from the Washington fans still in attendance.
Papelbon has now given up at least one run in five of his last eight outings.
The Nationals entered Sunday with a 27-29 record since acquiring Papelbon in late July. Harper, meanwhile, has been with the club for four years -- including two NL East championships -- and leads the majors in average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage while also leading the NL in home runs and runs.
Put simply: This isn't Papelbon's place to try and show "leadership." Instead, it looks like he just doesn't like Harper and it might have something to do with Harper's comments from last week.
UPDATE: Papelbon agrees. After the game, he told reporters that he was "in the wrong" and should let the manager police things like this (via Todd Dybas). As for Harper:
Harper. "He apologized. So whatever. I really don't care...like brothers fighting. That's what happens."— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) September 27, 2015
Regardless, the Nationals are an utter clown show right now.