Maddon doesn’t blame Harper for fight: ‘Either go to 1st or go to the mound’

After Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland‘s Memorial Day throwdown incited a benches-clearing brawl Monday, opinions have been circulating about whether or not the Washington Nationals superstar was in the wrong for reacting the way he did.

A new assessment arose Tuesday when Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided to offer his take on the fracas.

“I don’t blame Bryce for what he did whatsoever,” Maddon said on 670 The Score. “I always tell my hitters, ‘Either go to first or go to the mound if you’re challenged like that.'”

Strickland’s 98-mph beanball may have been in retaliation for Harper showing up the San Francisco Giants reliever by hitting two home runs off of him in the 2014 National League Division Series, but that doesn’t appear to matter to Maddon, who thinks Harper shouldn’t be thrown at for doing his job.

“I honestly – and I’ve talked about this before – I’ve never felt the other team has embarrassed me on a baseball field,” Maddon explained. “Because if they’re beating up on us, I’ve always considered it my fault, our fault. As an athlete, if I’m getting my butt beaten, it’s because it’s my fault. Their job is to beat us up. Harper’s job is to hit home runs really far against Strickland. That’s what his job is. Now, all histrionics that happen afterward, again, I still, I’ve never been a Major League pitcher, so I don’t know how all that deals when a guy maybe flips a bat or whatever, I kind of understand that in the sense you might get a little upset, but to throw a baseball at somebody when you throw that hard to me is also very dangerous.”

Suspensions for both Harper and Strickland, and perhaps other players involved in the melee, are expected to come down the pipeline from MLB and commissioner Rob Manfred. Maddon doesn’t appear to believe in the game being policed, but does think players should be able to talk about some of these disagreements before the situations get out of hand.

“I don’t know if you’re ever going to absolutely get it out of the game itself,” Maddon said. “You’re going to attempt to regulate it, and like I said before, I’m so not into over-regulation of anything – my politics are showing through right there – but I don’t know exactly what can be done. To me, honestly the first step would be to have MLB players talk among each other.”

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