Nyjer Morgan has had a tough season and it all culminated in last night’s brawl with the Marlins. The past week in particular has been tough, including two criticized run-ins with catchers, throwing a ball into the stands and now the brawl. The focus on the brawl so far has been the lawless nature in which Morgan approached last night’s game, questioning his motives in charging the mound. But why? Was what Morgan did really that wrong?
Let’s start with how Volstad approached the game, looking for revenge for Morgan separating the shoulder of Marlins catcher Brett Hayes the day before. Morgan was beaned in last night’s game in retaliation for the fair play at the plate which many have criticized for reasons unknown to me. Volstad beaned three Nationals players before the brawl, something a reasonable umpire would have ejected the pitcher for considering the rough nature of this series.
What happened after Morgan was hit by a pitch was the breaking of an unwritten rule of baseball, stealing two bases to take third. This upset Gaby Sanchez, as well as a number of other Marlins players.
“You really don’t do that in baseball. I can understand if it was a four-run lead and they hit you on purpose and you go ahead and steal second and steal third, then I don’t think it’s anything of a big deal. But when the team’s down by 11, we’re not really holding him on, we’re not really doing anything, and he ends up stealing second and stealing third? I know that a lot of the guys were upset about the whole situation. So just try to hit him again kind of thing.”
So what’s with this ridiculous “unwritten rule” forbidding a beaned player from stealing two bases? When it’s so early in the game and the team is down big, what’s the problem with doing whatever you can to get back in the game? If anything, it makes even less sense to do what Morgan did if his team was leading.
Why more retaliation on Volstad’s part? Barring a monstrous collapse, the game was in hand. More retaliation by the Marlins was out of line and uncalled for. Morgan had every right to feel slighted by the actions of the Marlins pitcher and to place sole blame for the brawl on the outfielder is ridiculous.
It was good to see third base coach Pat Listach defend Morgan immediately and Riggleman after the game. Here’s a quote from Riggleman about the lead-up to the incident:
“No, I think they were going hit him again anyway, and I’m glad Nyjer stole those bases to tell you the truth. They hit him, he went to first base, he took his medicine. I don’t know that yesterday’s play was right or wrong, but we were going to let it go. Nyjer went to first base, but if they hit you and you feel like you didn’t do anything wrong, which that’s the way Nyjer felt about it, he took those bases, that’s his business. We’ll decide when we run, we don’t let anyone else decided when we run. So whatever their reason was for throwing at Nyjer again, I’ve got no problems with what took place after that.
Morgan’s actions have been questionable the last week, but the enthusiasm he brings to the team is a welcome change over the usually quiet nature of the organization. After these incidents, I don’t expect to see Morgan in the line-up next year, and if that’s the same approach the Nationals front office takes, it certainly was a pleasure to see a guy with a lot of emotion on the field.
A lot of it has been antics and I can’t advocated everything Morgan has done, but to solely blame the young Nats outfielder is ludicrous.
[And if you haven’t seen the brawl yet, here’s a Youtube video MLB hasn’t taken down… yet.]