July 21, 2019

Nyjer Needs Some Love

September 4, 2010 by · 4 Comments 

After two whopping suspensions, dumping on Nyjer Morgan at this point should be half the distance to the goal for egregious piling on.  The guy needs some love big time.  So pardon me while I swim against the tide of the conventional wisdom–a concept born and raised here in Washington, DC.

I will start at the bottom and work my way up.  The very least Morgan deserves is a reasonable “twinkie” defense. So here goes. Morgan was amped up on Red Bull. Emerging from the Nationals-Marlins scrum on Wednesday night, with torn shirt and chest-pumping bravado, Morgan was nothing less than a poster child for a new kind of “Roid Rage” stemming from high-caffeine beverages. Morgan well could be the Lyle Alzado of the Red Bull generation.

With amphetamines losing their niche, it is reasonable for players looking for an edge to turn to high-dose caffeine drinks. It is the new frontier of PED and without a shred of evidence to go on, we here at Seamheads.com are breaking the story.

There is a more reasoned defense for Morgan, though clearly Major League Baseball wasn’t listening on Friday when the suspensions were announced.  And a little time off will help him work some of the caffeine out of his system.  But the guy deserves a defense.  He has tried to spark a team badly in need of one.

Exhibit A is how undeniably the Marlins own the Nationals.  They have won two of every three contests played against Washington for the past two seasons. Washington has five wins against ten losses this year and lost 12 of eighteen last year.  In 2008 it was even worse as Florida won fourteen of seventeen games against the Nationals.  Had Washington managed to break even against the Marlins in 2008 they would not have had the Strasburg pick.

The state of competitive fire in Washington is so moribund that Morgan was faulted by many in Washington for trying to steal bases in the fourth inning with his team down by a score of 15-4.  This is not an urban myth.  The Washington radio announcers actually accused Morgan of bad baseball etiquette for stealing second and third base after he was plunked by Chris Volstad in the fourth inning. The announcers may have been watching Morgan through a prism of drama surrounding his play for the preceding two weeks, but Dave Jaggler, the junior member of the broadcast team of Charlie Slowes and Dave Jaggler, questioned the play by Morgan because his team was down by eleven runs.

Morgan was a lone spark–a rather incendiary one–trying to ignite the Nationals’ offense.  And it worked.  After stealing the two bases, Morgan scored on a sacrifice fly from third and the team began to slash away at the eleven run deficit, trailing 15-10 in the sixth inning when all hell broke loose and Morgan charged the mound.  But rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa–a name to file away for future reference–charged into the thick of the fight and was quoted in the press the next day, saying in effect that Morgan had no choice but to charge the mound after being thrown at a second time.

So, in the appellate court of baseball, the defense would like to point out that Morgan has served to teach the young Nationals rookies how the game is really played.  They need him, bad attitude and all.  He may not be a starting center fielder in the National League and the Nationals should be willing to stipulate as a condition that in 2011 they will only play him as a fourth outfielder.

The last bit of evidence that should figure into the appeals process is the very nice shot he got in against Volstad.  Too many baseball players charge the mound and look pathetic in doing so.  They try and tackle the pitcher who then whacks them in the head and makes them look foolish.  Or they swing wildly on purpose because their agent told them that it would lessen the fine.  Morgan manned up.  He is at most 5-11 and he was all business going after Volstad, who is 6-8.  Morgan had to jump, but he did it and got through the much larger man’s defenses well enough to score a nice strawberry on the Marlins’ pitchers cheek bone.

I am not advocating violence in baseball as a way to sell tickets.  And I appreciate the sport for not being football or hockey.  But if a team is whacking you with authority every time you suit up and they are throwing at your players without a second thought, I have to agree with the rookie Espinosa.  Somebody has to go to bat for the home team and Morgan did just that.  Maybe his mind was addled by Red Bull; maybe he is just the hockey player type as he claims.  But the Nationals should secretly take their hat off to the little guy.

They need a spark–not a forest fire–just a spark.  Maybe all of the commotion about Morgan has undone any good he might have accomplished. That is a fair point.  But the Nationals will play the Marlins the next time with a little more fire in the belly and that is how it should be.

The defense respectfully petitions the court to reconsider the two eight game suspensions of Nyjer Morgan, suggesting that instead they be limited to five days for both offenses.  The defense rests.

Comments

4 Responses to “Nyjer Needs Some Love”
  1. Steve Ryan says:

    Question: Why do the Marlins get upset when Morgan runs into their catcher when scoring a run? The catcher has the armor on.

    The Marlins hit him with a pitch when they are up 15-4 and that isn’t a baseball etiquette violation? Then they get upset when he swipes a couple of bases? I have an idea. Throw him out when he steals the base! He gave you two chances.

    The Marlins throw at him a second time and like you say, 5’11” charges 6’8″ and the Marlins take offense? Why is that worth a suspension? The Marlins should be suspended for turning it into an issue. All Volstad had to do was throw over to first base a couple of time and nail Morgan in the ribs as he is stretched out reaching for the bag. Maybe that would slow him down.

    And you wonder why an NFL exhibition game gets higher ratings than the World Series? I agree that fighting is bad for baseball, but playing with a little fire instead of being buddy-buddy because the players share the same agent doesn’t help things.

    Maybe Nyjer Morgan has a clause in his contract that pays him for trying to win instead of just drawing his salary.

  2. Mike Lynch says:

    I’ve read a lot about this and I have a question: since when does the unwritten rules of baseball include a code that says a player shouldn’t steal when his team is behind by double digits? I understand not stealing when you’re up by double digits because that’s a slap in the face to your opponent, but when you’re down by that much aren’t you supposed to do what it takes to come back and win? Morgan ended up scoring on a sac fly, which cut the lead by one, and every little bit helps. Good for him for playing hard until the end.

  3. Ted Leavengood says:

    The source of Morgan dissing the Marlins by stealing the two bases originates with the radio broadcast crew as far as I can tell and may have its source in something unrelated. The Nationals fired Rob Dibble as a TV announcer for his criticism of Strasburg for not pitching through the injury. That occurred just days before the Morgan story hit the wires and Dibble’s firing may have caused some generalized angst among the broadcast crews that is affecting their commentary.

  4. Gerry Von Hendy says:

    Ted,

    I was there in Williamsport, Pa., in ’03 when Nyjer hit .343, and he and Chris Duffy tore up the NYPEN for the league championship. The first playoff game that year, against Auburn, a 3-2 win for the Crosscutters, remains the most exciting live game I’ve ever seen in my life. His fans are out there.

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