Thursday, September 2, 2010

A sad and predictable turn of events

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nyjer Morgan gestures toward fans after getting ejected.
MIAMI — Perhaps the saddest part of tonight's events at Sun Life Stadium is that everyone could see it coming from miles away.

The moment last week he was suspended seven games by Major League Baseball for throwing a ball into the stands in Philadelphia and striking a fan, Nyjer Morgan's fuse was lit. It slowly burned over the ensuing days, from his getting picked off with his team down four runs Friday to his demotion to the 8-hole and subsequent unnecessary clipping of Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson Saturday to his benching by Jim Riggleman Sunday to his criticism of the manager for a lack of communication Monday to his controversial collision with Marlins catcher Brett Hayes last night.

By the time Morgan stepped to the plate in the top of the first tonight, you sensed the fuse was about to run out and explode. It didn't happen right then, though. And it didn't happen in the fourth inning, when Chris Volstad plunked Morgan in the side. Nyjer calmly trotted to first base without saying a word, prompting everyone to wonder whether disaster had been averted.

Of course, it hadn't. When Morgan subsequently stole both second and third bases, with his team trailing 14-3 in the fourth, the Marlins decided more action was necessary. So the next time he came to bat, Volstad fired a fastball behind his back. Morgan paused for a split second, then bolted for the mound.

"I thought it was over after [the first plunking]," Morgan said. "Once I saw the ball go behind me, it's time to go. Once is good enough. Twice, it's time to go."

So he went, and the ensuing brouhaha will show up on highlight reels for decades. Morgan took a swipe at Volstad. Then Gaby Sanchez took down Morgan with a vicious clothesline. Then Pat Listach took down Volstad in an attempt to smother the Marlins pitcher. Both benches emptied. Both bullpens emptied. Jerseys were pulled. Bodies were piled on top of each other. Peacemakers turned into combatants.

And then at the end of it all, Morgan walked back to the dugout, escorted by bullpen catcher Nilson Robledo, his jersey unbuttoned and untucked, his arms raised as though he was declaring victory, his mouth yapping at fans.

This will be the lasting image around baseball of Nyjer Morgan: disheveled, disruptive, disdainful.

"People are going to have their own opinions," Morgan said. "I know what kind of player I am. I'm going out there balls out. I'm not going to go out there and take anything for granted. I'm going to show that I'm a hard-nosed ballplayer, and that's the way it is."

That's the way it is with Nyjer. This is who he is, and it's difficult to see him suddenly changing his entire persona as a ballplayer.

The question now facing the Nationals is whether this player should be part of their future. And this isn't as clear-cut as it might look on the surface. It would be easy to look at the events of the last week (combined with Morgan's overall subpar play this season) and determine it's time to cut ties. But Nyjer continues to be supported inside the Nats' clubhouse, and that was clear tonight.

"He's definitely done some things over the past couple weeks that are a little questionable, I think," Ryan Zimmerman said. "We've all talked. Me and Pudge have talked to him. ... He obviously has to learn a little more about the game. But you can't take away from how hard he plays. That's what he does every day. It's not like he's changed over the last week or two. That's the attitude, the way he's played ever since he's been here. That's who he is."

The consensus among the Nationals is that Morgan's only real infraction in the last week was the incident with Anderson, the Cardinals catcher. They don't know what exactly happened in Philadelphia but they sincerely doubt Morgan's actions were malicious. They also believe his collision with Hayes last night (resulting in a separated shoulder for the Florida catcher) was clean.

And the Nats stood up for Morgan's two stolen bases tonight after the initial plunking, despite what any book on baseball etiquette might say.

"The Florida Marlins will not decide when we run. We will decide when we run," Riggleman said. "He felt that's the way I'm going to get my payback. Sometimes some guys get it in the form of going in hard at somebody at second base on a double play. I've seen that many times. But Nyjer took his revenge in the form of a stolen base. And I don't have any problem with it."

The Marlins obviously did.

"He gets under my skin," Wes Helms said. "I cannot stand when a guy shows somebody up. There's no place in baseball for that. You're going to get what's coming to you if you do that. Tonight, we had to show him that we weren't going to put up with the way he was treating us after last night, but also trying to take the bases being up 10 runs. After he got hit, you know it's out of spite. I can't really say anything good about a guy that doesn't play the game the right way and doesn't play for the integrity of the game."

Fair or unfair, this is the reputation Nyjer Morgan is now establishing around baseball. It's a reputation that shouldn't sit well with Mike Rizzo, who has repeatedly talked about the importance of character and clubhouse chemistry when acquiring and removing players from his roster.

Trouble is, Rizzo has staked a decent amount of his own reputation on Morgan. The June 2009 trade that brought Morgan and Sean Burnett to Washington and sent Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan to Pittsburgh represented Rizzo's first significant deal. And when Morgan immediately had a positive impact on the Nationals, Rizzo was hailed for pulling off a steal.

A removal of Morgan from the Nats roster would be akin to Rizzo admitting failure. It may yet happen, but it's not a move he's going to make on impulses. It's going to be a calculated decision.

In the end, Bob Watson may take care of all this for Rizzo. MLB's chief disciplinarian, Watson figures to come down hard on all brawl participants in the next day or two. Both managers (who were ejected) will get suspended, as will Volstad and Marlins reliever Jose Veras (who was ejected after getting into it with Steve McCatty during the melee). Doug Slaten will serve time after he intentionally plunked Sanchez later in the game. And Listach could face some punishment for his actions, even if his intentions were good and he was trying to prevent injuries instead of causing them.

But Watson's toughest decision may be what to do with Morgan, who already has a hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Washington to appeal his previous seven-game suspension. What happens when a guy appealing one suspension gets handed another? Can he appeal both simultaneously and thus be allowed to play Friday night in Pittsburgh? Something about that doesn't seem right.

Morgan shouldn't appeal whatever punishment Watson hands down for tonight's events. Accept it and serve your time, then make your case for a reduced sentence in the Philly case.

The best thing Morgan can do right now — for himself and for the Nationals — is to take a little time off. He's an emotional guy, and he's at his best when he plays with emotion. But he's got too much of it going on right now, and it has a significant negative effect on his game. Nyjer's not helping his team when he's on the field at the moment; he's hurting it.

There's a reason Riggleman dropped Morgan to the 8-hole last weekend. It's because he can damage his team less down there than he can at the top of the lineup. That alone should be evidence he needs some time off.

At season's end, Rizzo and Co. will have to decide whether Morgan figures into next year's plan or not. There's growing reason to believe he doesn't.

Either way, is there much left to be gained from watching him play the remainder of this season? It's tough to argue there is.

The story of Nyjer Morgan's 2010 season has already been written. It built up over the last five months, crescendoed over the last week and climaxed tonight in an unfortunate-but-predictable manner. At this point, it seems too late to re-write the final chapter and produce a happy ending.


TheYellowSlant said...

It's tough when players talk about "policing the game" and "integrity of the game" in the same sentence. You can't have a physical game where doing the right thing could get a player injured, hit that player the next game then call him out for not playing the game the right way.

It's tough to look objectively when all of these events have occurred within such a small timeframe. We as fans can shrug off a misguided Phillies fan who needs to pay more attention during the game anyways. We can see that Nyjer made a mistake but it was handled internally, as it should have been.

The Brett Hayes incident, while unfortunate for that young man, would not have drawn nearly as much hoopla without those previously mentioned events. In fact, I think Pete Rose's name would've been thrown around a lot more (for better or worse)

And now tonight's events. First Nyjer Morgan gets plunked. Then he steals two bases in a blowout. Then Alberto Gonzalez and Wil Nieves (Who?) also get plunked. How Volstad is still in the game at this point baffles me.

If this was Adam Dunn that this story revolved around, how would you guys react?

Natsochist said...

I'd like to know one thing: how is anyone possibly justify the second pitch behind Morgan?

Others have said it in comments elsewhere, but this is important: the Nationals were TRAILING by 11 runs, not up by 11, and it was still the FOURTH INNING. Please note Wes Helm's comment above: "Tonight, we had to show him that we weren't going to put up with the way he was treating us after last night, but also trying to take the bases being up 10 runs. After he got hit, you know it's out of spite."

He got hit, he put his head down and went to first, and he kept playing the game. That was professional. He did that despite two of his teammates getting hit before him and the opposing pitcher not getting tossed.

Memo to the Marlins: you don't want an opponent to steal a base when they're trailing? Throw him out.

The second throw was embarrassing and unprofessional by the Marlins. It reflects poorly on their manager's skill to control his club, and reflects poorly on the umpiring crew chief's ability to keep under control a game that he knew ahead of time would be tense.

You can argue whether Morgan should have charged the mound, but I see no point prior to that where he was in the wrong tonight -- I just see the Fish upset that their "payback" didn't cause him to roll over and play dead.

David Lint said...

I'm still trying to figure out why Nyjer was suddenly leading off again, tonight.

He was awful in the eight hole, and Kennedy, while not hitting, was seeing pitches and the offense was great under his watch... why make a change tonight?

I blame Riggleman for a lot of the problems. He's enabled Nyjer's stupid play all along. He didn't bench him for the temper tantrum in CF. He didn't bench him for the idiotic PO's and CS's... he really just lets Nyjer do what he wants to do... and now? It's too late to reign him in.

Time for Nyjer to go. Bernadina profiles better as a CF'er than a LF'er or RF'er anyways.

Tegwar said...

I'm not a Nyjer Morgan fan but it was the umpires who lost control of the game. If you're going to throw at a batter don't be surprised if that batter tries to score. After Morgan was hit Volstad proceeded to hit Gonzalez and Nieves. Why weren't both teams warned at that time by the umpires? When Volstad threw at Morgan again that was bush league. Did the Marlins feel they could throw at the Nationals without any consequences? Really you found it predictable that Morgan would be thrown at but surprised that the Nationals would react? Why didn't the umpire eject Volstad for trying to throw at him again? Morgan should not have charged the mound but Riggleman should have had one of his pitcher break a few of Volstad ribs! Volstad hit 3 Nationals and tried to hit 4 because of a questionable play the day before so I have one question for you Mark how many Nationals needed to be hit before the Marlins felt retribution?

Sunderland said...

"At season's end, Rizzo and Co. will have to decide whether Morgan figures into next year's plan or not. There's growing reason to believe he doesn't."

I for one think this is actually a very easy decision.

Just ignore everything that happened in the past week and what do you have.
A "leadoff hitter" with a .317 OBP.
An outfielder who ranks dead last among all qualifying MLB outfielders in OPS. Dead last.
A guy with a throwing arm that is most definitely not MLB outfield quality.
What else do you have?
A guy who leads all of MLB in caught stealing.

From there, add in the baserunning errors (picked off, missing home plate, etc).
Add in the the number of times he threw to the wrong base.

This is a pretty simple decision.
They are a better team without him.

meixler said...

Honestly I'm not really sure what to think about all this. I was working last night and wasn't able to watch the game, but I've seen all the clips and read all the summaries. My initial response was to throw Nyjer under the bus. It just seems to me like his head hasn't been right lately and he's definitely had some questionable plays. But the more I think about it, I don't think Nyjer did anything wrong last night. He took the first hit, and I don't understand any justification for why he shouldn't have stolen those bases. If the Marlins didn't want him to steal then it's their responsibility to prevent him from doing so. There was no reason for them to throw at him again and I guess he did what he had to do in charging the mound. Nyjer will undoubtedly be serving a suspension. When it's over, I hope the drama doesn't follow him back out onto the field.

N. Cognito said...

Nobody is sure what happened in Philly. I wouldn't be shocked if Nyger threw the ball at someone, but I don't believe Philly fans for a moment. The play against the Cardinals was more pathetic and douchy than it was cheap and dirty. The play against the Marlins Tuesday was perhaps stupid - he should have slid -but a clean legal hit.

Up 10 runs or down 10 runs, if you're not supposed to continue playing baseball, why don't they just stop the game? If they don't want Nyger stealing, don't let him. It helped the Nats get back in the game - kinda.

Gonzalez and Nieves were hit BEFORE Morgan was hit.

Sunderland said...

David - If you watch the replay, the umpire signaled that Volstad was tossed before Nyjer charged.
Everything the Marlins did, and the umps did, was fine.
They plunked Njyer, in the mid-section, no one threw at his head. Certainly no reason to warn or toss at this point. Everyone knew it would happen. It happened. So let's just play ball.
The other plunkings were just pitching inside, no more, no less, and the game would suck if guys got tossed for that.

If Nyjer had took first after the HBP and stayed there, it would have ended. But he basically said to them "You hit me with a pitch to try and send me a message? I've got a message for you. Up yours!"
(There's no way he steals in a normal game with the score 14 - 3. No way. The SB's was him sending a message back to the Marlins)

No baseball team, Nats included, would have been OK with Nyjer's SB's in that situation.

So Volstad threw safely behind Nyjer. Not at his head. Not at his ribs. Safely behind Nyjer.

And the ump tossed Volstad, as he should, primarily to control the game, telling both teams "this ends here".

But Nyjer wouldn't let it end. Nyjer went ballistic. It's childish. Simply childish.
And taunting the crowd, as he does often but most visibly as he did last night, is just punk.

JayB said...

@Sunderland.....exactly the point going back to June 1.....exactly why he should be gone....hey Rizzo.....Milledge sucks too, don't compound your problem and move on now.

Dave said...

I unfortunately didn't see the incident live. I was watching a movie on another channel after the Nats were trailing by so many runs.

I've made harsh judgments of Nyjer this past week, and I am still disappointed, but I think I've finally decided that last night's brawl was not completely his fault.

One thing I cannot understand: how is it bad form for Nyjer to steal 2nd and 3rd when his team is DOWN 10 runs? Isn't it the trailing team's responsibility to try to play hard and win the game?

I understand it if you're 10 runs ahead--that's rubbing salt into the wound of your huge lead. But 10 runs down? Good for Nyjer for trying to spark a comeback. Which he certainly did.

In fact, I didn't switch back over to the game until I noticed that the score of 15-5 had rather quickly changed to 15-10. I figured there must be something worth seeing in the game. And sure enough, there was.

Can somebody please explain the logic of the "etiquette" that Morgan violated by stealing 2nd and 3rd last night?

Richard said...

I disagree with Sunderland. If the Marlins are going to hit Nyjer, then they have to take his base stealing, or prevent it, as some here have said. The Marlins took it upon themselves to teach Nyjer another lesson. Volstad ignited the whole thing by throwing at Nyjer a second time, after hitting Gonzales and Nieves, which, okay, may have been accidental, although you can argue that "throwing inside" was a bit more prevalent last night than usual. The Marlins (and their TV announcers, BTW) seemed out of control. The Marlins apparently were going to "get" Nyjer for crashing into their catcher, who WAS rightly but vulnerability blocking the plate when he got hit. Many catchers have taken a shot in that situation without the team going after the player that was trying to score. But Nyjer took the first plunking and responded on the bases the way he'd entitled to, as Riggs said. Anyway, I hope the Marlins culpability in this gets considered as much as Nyjer's loss of self control.

Anonymous said...

If Morgan gets suspended, can MASN get him to fill in for Dibble? That would be some quality entertainment...

Sunderland said...

Richard - happy to have you disagree, it's what makes this fun.

Here's a quote from Riggleman
"If Nyjer decides to run, he ran. That's his business. He felt that's the way I'm going to get my payback."

And that's the whole point.

Njyer was not running because it was good baseball, or dumb baseball, or baseball etiquette. He was running purely to stick his middle finger up in the air at the Marlins.

That this brought a reaction from the Marlins is predictable and appropriate.

Think about this from the perspective of the Marlins. Nyjer is a punk.

joemktg said...

Sunderland's earlier post is the important point: when considering Nyjer's future with the club, look at the performance on the field. From OPS to OBP to arm strength, baserunning acumen, etc., and it has pointed all season to a change. That's the evidence you need to make a decision.

Let's suppose that the Nats came back and won that game. We'd be looking at Nyjer's aggressiveness a bit differently this morning. And let's suppose he didn't charge the mound: he'd then be perceived as weak.

The final arbiter is performance: just not there.

One other point: he's got to stop interacting with the fans!! Completely unnecessary, and dangerous. He needs to know that, and I hope that old salty dog Bob Watson gets that message across.

Sunderland said...

Sorry to be posting so much, I'll let it go soon, promise.

Dave asked - "Can somebody please explain the logic of the "etiquette" that Morgan violated by stealing 2nd and 3rd last night? "

It's very simple.
There was no etiquette violation last night.

Etiquette in baseball is simply this, you do not do things to show up other people, including your opponents.

So, stealing when you are UP 10 runs is poor etiquette. Not just because of stealing, but because of showing up your opponent.

Stealing when you are DOWN 10 runs is, in general, foolish baseball. You have a limited number of outs to give, you needs a bunch of runs, not one or two. There's not a single MLB manager who would *call* for a steal with his team down 10 runs. Not a one.

So why did Nyjer run? For "revenge" (Riggleman's words).
To "show up the Marlins" (Ray Knight's words)

That's the problem the Marlins (and others) have the with the SB's

Tegwar said...

Sunderland, I respect your opinion however everyone knew before the game that there was a tinderbox that just needed a spark. Volstad has hit only 5 batters this year and now he hits 3 in one game? I don't think he was intentionally trying to hurt players but he definitely was sending a message. Everyone knew that Slaten threw at Sanchez even tho it was an inside pitch. Morgan should never have charged the mound and for that he should be tossed but as for stealing bases there is no rule written or otherwise that says a team should stop trying to score runs when it is behind. Morgan's game is speed and stealing bases if Dunn had been hit and the next time up he hits a HR should the Marlins get upset that he is showing them up? I'm not a Nyjer fan and his taunting was over the top and his suspension time should reflect this. I guarantee the next time these two teams meet warnings will be issued BEFORE the game and even with that players will be hit.

Tim Harrison said...

True, Mark, it was predictable. And I guess Nyjer did show the Marlins up again when he stole 2nd and 3rd in the 4th inning, being down 10 runs. BUT IT WAS THE 4TH INNING!

The brawl ignited the Nats and I saw glimpse of a team with a heart tonight. They came close to making it a game. What are they supposed to do, roll over and play dead when down by 10 runs? We've seen too much of that already.

Rizzo and Riggleman should counsel Morgan to rein in his emotions when they continually hurt the team. He is constantly wound so tight that it hurts him during his at bats and out in the field (see Orioles temper tantrum).

Do I want Morgan back next year? Hmmm. Yes, if he plays under control.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Nyjer must be auditioning for anoff season job with WWF because he sure plays the role.

Personally, I'm tired of it and just want him gone.

On another note, just listened to Dibbles apology on Sirrius/XM MLB this morning and it may have been the most professional thing he's done since he got in a radio booth; short, truthful and contrite. Now lets move on.

Big Cat said...

i'm being serious here. Do you think there is a chance Morgan has mental issues. I mean....look at his actions over the year. He misses a fly ball and throws a tantrum so bad the hitter gets an inside the park homer. Then he throws a ball at a fan in Philly. Then he goes after the Cardinal catcher who was not even in the play. Then the cheap shot on the Marlins catcher....yes, cheap shot....lets be fair here. And now this whole episode. There is something going on here other than hard nosed play. Can we say Jim Piersal?

Wally said...

I don't think that Morgan will be back. I think that it will primarily be because of his performance, but compounded by his attitude. Despite mark's article, I am not sure that the team really is behind him. Didn't it seem like the coaches were the first one to the scrum last night? I know that 1B and 3b coaches are closer, but it seemed to me like it took the players a while to get there, almost as is they didn't support it.

Getting back to his on-field performance, the shame of it is that I think that Morgan can be the player the Nats want, but he thinks that he is more, so he tries to do things that he can't accomplish. I believe that a CF hitting .260/.330, with 25-30 steals at a high rate, intelligent baserunning, and above average defense (including throwing to the correct base) is a starting CF in the game. Maybe not top 15, but a starter and the Nats, for one, would take it in a heart beat. But he wants to be .300 with 60 steals and make highlight reel catches, and that mentality leads to all the bonehead plays. It is too bad that it is working out this way, because I like him, but I think that it has hit the embarrassment level for Rizzo, and he will act in the offseason.

ThrowsLikeSteveSax said...

THE THING THAT IRRITATES ME THE MOST is this notion that Nyjer stealing 2nd and 3rd is some sort of unwritten baseball etiquette. Don't plunk a speedy guy in retaliation?

Should Wil Nieves not have been swinging as hard as he was when he hit his solo HR? Harold Reynolds seems to think when you're down 11 runs its a bad idea to continue trying??? Who cares if he took two bags ... it was over ... you plunked him already.

Anonymous said...

Baseball players seem to get their feelings hurt quite easily.

meixler said...

If you listen to the full Wes Helms post game interview, he says that they threw at Nyjer because of his collision with the St. Louis catcher and that the play at the plate in Tuesday's game against the Marlins was clean. That makes Wednesday's events even more ridiculous. The Marlins are as crazy as Nyjer is!

Anonymous said...

I don't mind a good baseball fight when the circumstances warrant it, but this was a stupid fight caused solely by a stupid player who is trying to hurt people rather than play the game. It embarasses me that the Nationals are getting this kind of national press. The replays of Nyjer Morgan shouting obsentities at Marlins fans after instigating this fight is an embarassment. He's also putting the rest of the team at risk of injury by getting into these brawls -- if Ryan Zimmerman or Adam Dunn walk away from that fight with a concussion, we've serious problems. Is it all worth it for Nyjer Morgan, who's production can be easily replaced?


Anonymous said...

Wally makes a good point -- the team and Riggs may be saying the right things (really they have to) but I didn't see anyone rushing out there to hit a Marlin -- most of them took their time getting out there and once they did they were pulling people off rather than fighting.

Interesting that Hanley Ramirez gave Espinoza a friendly pat after getting his first major league hit, too. Not sure that would have happened between the Reds and Cards after their serious brawl earlier this season.

ThrowsLikeSteveSax said...

Was the pat "friendly" or not? The umpire was obviously standing between them. Maybe Hanley had some words for Espinosa taking an extra bag (that seemed to be frowned upon last night).

Nyjer is batsh*t crazy, but I'm going to stick up for the guy as long as he's on the team.

Anonymous said...

He used to be my favorite player, like a lot of people I guess. But...most of this stuff is plain old baseball stuff we've seen for 100 years. He had already lost my favor with his performance on the field.

However, the way he reacted walking off the field is just intolerable and damaging to the franchise. That's an image hard to forget, and it tarnishes the Nationals brand.

Bowdenball said...

Not a lot of talk about Gaby Sanchez anywhere as far as I can tell. Not sure why- I thought he was way out of line.

If you really feel the need to protect your 6'8",240 pound catcher from a 5'10 guy who can't possibly way more than 150, fine. Tackle him and pin him down.. But don't blindside him and coldcock/ clothesline him, then dogpile on him and take free swings at him.

If this wasn't a family blog, I'd describe that stunt using an adjective that is also sometimes used as a slang word to describe a cat.

Unknown said...

It seems to me the Nats have a rather simple set of decisions here. They probably can't afford to have both Bernadina and Morgan in their starting OF, just as I'm not sure they should have both Willingham and Morse. With one of each and a genuine power hitter (presumably a FA until Harper arrives), they'd go a long way to fixing the problems in the batting order. Bernadina looks like a better long-term bet: equally good fielder, better arm, more power, equal speed, more sense as a runner.
And without the side issues.

HHover said...

With apologies, I'm copying a comment from Mark's earlier post about clubhouse reaction because this seems the more active thread:

Those of you claiming that Morgan's 2 SBs were nothing but him trying to win the game--not him being a jerk or sending a message--need to take it up with Riggs, who called the 2 SBs "revenge" and "payback" (and thanks to Mark in his earlier post for giving us the extended version of comments from Riggs and other players).

meixler said...

In case you're curious, this is what Wes Helms had to say when he was asked if the Marlins were aware of other recent events surrounding Nyjer:

"I think that's what escalated this situation today, because of what he did to the catcher in St. Louis. [...] If that had not happened in St. Louis then today I don't think anything would have been done because last night was not that bad of a play."

Anonymous said...

"There's not a single MLB manager who would *call* for a steal with his team down 10 runs. Not a one."

Maybe not 10 but it appears that at a 9 run deficit Jim Tracy for the Rockies did just that on August 25th with the Rockies trailing 10-1 after 3 innings. The Rockies attempted 2 stolen bases and were successful once. The Rockies ended up winning the game 12-10.

Anonymous said...


Riggleman used the words "payback" and "revenge" but he also said (first) that he feels after the batter gets hit, it's over. What he does on the basepaths is his own business. "You hit him, and now if he decides to run on you, that's his business. I got no problem with that."

Look at the "payback" and "revenge" comments in context before you quote them as evidence Nyjer shouldn't have stolen. "He felt that's the way I'm going to get my payback."

b said...

The unwritten rule in baseball is that you don't steal when you are WINNING by a large margin. I have never heard of anyone getting mad about someone stealing when they are losing by a lot. If they didn't want him to steal, hold him on for christ sakes. Throw over there dummy!

John O'Connor said...

Slaten is last night's hero in my book.

ThrowsLikeSteveSax said...


thanks for the wes helms quote (and the laugh). what a bizarre night of baseball for wash.

Anonymous said...

Slaten and Pat Listach.

Volstad was clawing at his face.

Anonymous said...

Nyjer Morgan should be in the unemployment line starting today! He has disrespected the game, the Nats uniform, opposing fans and Nats fans, he is at best an a$$ and at worst a crazed psychopath either way there is no place for him in our organization, one that reportedly built on character.

I hope that major league baseball suspends him for another 7 games and that the Nats if they do not DFA him suspend him for the remainder of the season.

I think Gaby Sanchez and Chris Volstad should get paid a little bit extra for giving it Nyjer because he deserved everything he got, probably deserved more!

He is not one of us, he makes a mockery of us, time to make a mockery of him by taking away his stage on which he can act up on.

Bring up Boomer Whiting!

Flyover Country said...

Bowdenball said...

Not a lot of talk about Gaby Sanchez anywhere as far as I can tell. Not sure why- I thought he was way out of line.

If you really feel the need to protect your 6'8",240 pound catcher from a 5'10 guy who can't possibly way more than 150, fine. Tackle him and pin him down.. But don't blindside him and coldcock/ clothesline him, then dogpile on him and take free swings at him.

If this wasn't a family blog, I'd describe that stunt using an adjective that is also sometimes used as a slang word to describe a cat.

Exactly. Now I can see folks hating the NE Patriots when they're up 30 points in the fourth quarter and they go for it on 4th down and 6 because that running up the score needlessly. Take Brady's head off. As was pointed elsewhere, down 10 runs in the 4th inning, the games far from over and stealing bases is just good baseball, regardless of the reasons attributed to it.

Big Cat said...

You could even say that Riggleman had a hand in all this.

Why was this lunatic player even in the lineup. He has been a ticking time bomb for a couple weeks now.

Anonymous said...

Nyjer = immature

He is setting a bad example for kids who look up to ballplayers, especially at a time when MLB through its RBI program is trying to rebuild the popularity of the sport in the inner city.

If Elijah Dukes was DFA'd for not being a good teammate aka not a member of the "god squad" how can Nyjer be allowed to stay with this team.

alm100 said...

raymitten says: "Interesting that Hanley Ramirez gave Espinoza a friendly pat after getting his first major league hit, too. Not sure that would have happened between the Reds and Cards after their serious brawl earlier this season."
Hanley gave him that pat as an apology for kicking his leg off of the base as he went by. He was saying its wasn't intentional, an accident.

Can't believe Dibbs is gone. I am very pissed about what Ray Knight was saying during and after the brawl. Sanchez has no "right" to clothesline Nyjer. If he had tackeled him - OK. But his action was intended to hurt him. That is what got Listash fired up, and the rest of the team. Knight defended Sanchez and I don't understand how our color commentator can do that. When Carpenter pointed out the violent nature of the hit - calling it a clothesline hit, Ray waffled a little but went back and defended Sanchez. Pure bull coming out of his mouth.

This is a different game today than the game that Reynolds and Knight played in the 80's. We all knew that Nyjer was going to try to steal those bases. That they way today's players do it.

I am proud of the team defending Nyjer and of what Riggs said.

As Mark notes, this started when Nyjer got the 7 day suspension. Does everyone forget that Carpenter said a few days after the incident that a Phillies fan, with a stub from the game in the section where the incident occurred said that Nyjer was just tossing the ball with a lolly-pop throw to the fans. The fan got hit by accident. Players toss the ball into the stands probably hundreds of times a day in MLB.

Glad we were recording the game as we had turned it off when it got to 11 for the fish.

I was a Nyjer fan last year, but this year with the constant pick-offs, bad throws and low OB%, not so much. Glad I don't have to decide his fate.

Anonymous8 said...

Nyjer has made himself virtually untradeable at this point. One of the problems all along with this team was the depth in the outfield as there didn't seem to be anyone who was MLB ready which maybe is why Rizzo didn't demote Nyjer to the Minors. That May 22nd game against the Orioles will also be a low-light this season. So many of us have been calling early in the season for a Nyjer benching, and they never did it. I just can't see Nyjer as part of this team next year. If he is, then Rizzo is a clear hypocrite after he dumped Elijah Dukes in Spring Training. Nyjer in my opinion, has surpassed Dukes in the "clubhouse problem" category.

Nyjer needs a psychiatrist. He has issues. They have been there for a long time. When the bright lights aren't on Nyjer, he is a Jeckyl and Hyde type of guy. Scary. Maybe this is why the Pirates traded him. On the field, he has a weak arm, low OBP, makes mental mistakes, and now add a MAJOR DISRUPTION.

If he doesn't run into the Cardinals catcher last week, this brawl doesn't happen as his running into the Marlins catcher would have been seen as a gritty baseball play instead of aggressive anger.

I also blame the Marlins as they didn't need to throw behind Nyjer which started the brawl after they already plunked him. You have to now wonder if this will continue into the next Marlins series.

Anonymous said...


Gaby Sanchez is now my favorite non-Nat, he gave Nyjer what was coming to him. Nyjer had no business charging the mound.

alm100 said...

Agree that Slaten and Listash are the heros last night. After the brawl was over we kept watching to see if the Nats would plunk Sanchez. I hoped so and Slaten did it. Good for him and good for the Nats. Sanchez is the punk in this story, not Nyjer.

320R2S15 said...

Riggs caused the problem by playing Morgan last night. Who did not know this would happen, Morgan is Morgan. Again, the Nationals do not need him, and Riggs could have avoided the entire situation by planting his a$$ on the bench.

On the other hand, it was great entertainment, and I bet MLB loves it (behind closed doors)And, I'd be willing to bet that the rest of the league will go after Morgan if Riggs plays him.

Anonymous said...

Wes Helm's holier than thou attitude is pretty funny coming from the conniving Marlins who stuff luxury tax money into their own pockets while keeping their payroll at nothing.

Nyjer should be gone because of his numbers, not anything that's happened in the past week.

JT in Lincoln

Anonymous said...

I found another MLB manager that did not know you should not steal base when you are losing by a lot of runs early in the game. It seems Edwin Rodriguez the manager of the Marlins broke this "rule" on August 28th when the Braves were pounding his Marlins 8-0 and then 10-1 by letting Ramirez and Bonifacio steal bases. I didn't see that the Braves pitchers felt they needed to hit any of the Marlin players in that game?

Big Cat said...

I'll bet Olson is happy for the brawl. It takes the heat off another horrendous start. Hell, I wanted to get a bat and head for the plate. Fastball straight as a string with no pop, curveball just rolls in with a sign on it that says "hit me." Shoot....I'd of lined one up the middle on that pus!

Harper_ROY_2012 said...

I saw bits and pieces of the game on TV and just rewatched the snipets on YouTube and here are my thoughts:

1) nyjer backed into the soft breaking ball pitch that hit him in the 4th.
2) nyjer's mouth starts running at 1B
3) nyjer steals 2b and his mouth is still running
4) nyjer steal 3b and his mouth is still running
5) Volstad threw a fastball but it was nowhere near Nyjer, yet he charges the mound AND clearly throws a punch.

Conclusion, this is 100% on Nyjer.

JamesFan said...

Nyjer is done and unfortunately the Nats will not get much, if anything for him. I think this raises big questions about Riggleman as well. I don't want to see a bad start in 2011 and change managers in July. Rather do it in the off season. The problem for Rizzo now is whether to use Bernie in center or right. That will determine what kind of player he wants to bring in during the offseason.

natscan reduxit said...

... The Washington Nationals should stand behind Nyjer Morgan, and stand up to Bud Selig and MLB. Baseball is a competitive sport, played by people with an abundance of competitive spirit. If MLB – or any professional league – thinks that spirit can and should only be exercised through the play on the field, they are sadly mistaken ... unless of course they want a sanitised sport with a demise in sight.

... the Nats rid themselves of Rob Dibble and good riddance. But there’s a difference in Morgan’s case: although he struggles to do so, Nyjer tries to keep it within the bounds of baseball. Dibble was, and still is, a man born with no understanding of right and wrong. Morgan is a kid who, with guidance, can learn to channel his competitive spirit within limits.

... now as for the Marlins, I dislike them, not for the same reason I dislike Philadelphia - the Phillies are all good guys but they’re saddled with sub-human fans. No, I dislike the Fish for the same reason I disliked the Cincinnati Reds of old – because as players, the way they conducted themselves, the way they played the game, brought it on themselves. They were their own worst enemy. Of course in Florida’s case, they also have NO fans, and an owner with a proven track record as a menace to the game.

Go Nats! and keep on truckin'

N. Cognito said...

Anonymous said...
"Nyjer should be gone because of his numbers, not anything that's happened in the past week.

JT in Lincoln "

We have a winner!

autobits said...

I think we are all over-analyzing this thing a bit. I don't think last night was particularly sad or terrible. In reality it was an unintentional and amusing send-up of baseball's unwritten rules, where grown men puff out their chests over perceived offenses and "defend" their teammates by throwing balls at each other. It was a bizarre and hilarious sideshow.

As for Nyjer, I don't think recent events permanently stigmatize him as a dirty player. His play on the field will define him as a ball player: pick-offs, bonehead defense, and poor hitting. Those are killers. I think he's better than he's played this year, and I hope for him that he turns it around whether with us or some other team.

Lastly, there is no way Rizzo staked any significant portion of his reputation on Morgan. He got him back for junk. If Morgan fails he fails. People will judge Rizzo on his larger body of work, which honestly looks pretty good so far. People will see that he took a national joke, and has turned it into a professional baseball operation.

All of this is really no big deal. The only thing at stake here is Morgan's career, and if he starts getting on base again and plays smart baseball he'll have a job somewhere. If he doesn't he'll be just like you and me. Another dude looking for a 9-5.

Flyover Country said...

Anonymous said...

I found another MLB manager that did not know you should not steal base when you are losing by a lot of runs early in the game. It seems Edwin Rodriguez the manager of the Marlins broke this "rule" on August 28th when the Braves were pounding his Marlins 8-0 and then 10-1 by letting Ramirez and Bonifacio steal bases. I didn't see that the Braves pitchers felt they needed to hit any of the Marlin players in that game?

Like I said earlier, slang word to describe a cat. That it takes some guy in a blog to point out the utter BS the Marlins are spouting, is actually the sad thing.

HHover said...

Anon @ 8:48

I did read Riggs' comments in context, and you need to read my comment closely as well.

I didn't say that Riggs criticized Nyjer's decision. I said that he clearly thought the SBs were motivated by a desire for "payback" and "revenge."

Whether Morgan should have sought revenge is a separate question. I think he was wrong; maybe you think he was right; Riggs doesn't criticize the choice but also makes clear that it was Nyjer's choice, not his.

One thing seems indisputable to me. Morgan could have chosen to let things end after he got plunked. He didn't. Having refused to accept that it was over himself, he can't really complain that the Marlins won't let it die, either.

Section 222 said...

I agree with many of the commenters here, and I've argued since right after Ray Knight came down on him, that there was nothing wrong with Morgan stealing those two bases from an etiquette point of view. From a good baseball strategy point of view, yes. But if Riggs didn't put the stop sign on (and he probably should have, at least after the first one), then who are we, and who are the Marlins more importantly, to take offense? To suggest that teams that are down 10 runs shouldn't try to show up the other team is stupid. It's the team that is ahead that has to be careful about running up the score, etc.
There is nothing wrong with fighting hard and trying to come back.

But apparently the Marlins did take offense (see Wes Helms' comment), so they threw at him again. That was unreasonable and Volstead and the manager should be sanctioned for that. (If they threw at him again to continue to punish him for hurting Hayes, that's wrong too.)

At that point, it's on Nyjer. And he was wrong, just flat out wrong, to charge the mound. Volstead was already thrown out of the game. Nyjer should have taken his medicine, maybe done a long stare, or complained to the ump. Perhaps Riggs comes out and says, "come on, this is ridiculous, they got their pound of flesh, you have to stop this." And then maybe Nyjer can go and steal two more bases, if Riggs doesn't tell him to cool it.

That's what should have happened. Up until the moment when he charged the mound, Nyjer was just fine. Not a smart baseball player, but nothing out of control. No taunting, no mouthing off to the crowd. He knew he was the center of attention and he was steaming, you could tell. But he hadn't done anything to deserve further punishment. But when he charged and initiated the brawl, that crossed the line, and he deserves whatever punishment Bob Watson gives him.

As for next year, as Hawk Harrelson would say, "he gone." He's a distraction, a lousy hitter, an inconsistent fielder, a terrible baserunner. I'd be very surprised, and disappointed, to see him in a Nats uniform in the spring.

Paul said...

Nyjer's production has been less than stellar this year and he has had some very public gaffes... but god do I love a guy who will go out there and play his heart out (stupid or not) for a team that is 20 games under 500. I am not saying keep him or dump him, I am just saying that I love it when guys give it 110%.

A DC Wonk said...

I want to second the notion that Sanchez was a punk. And, you know, I might even cut him some slack for this initial clotheslining of Nyjer -- but, if you look at the reply, you can see that after he knocked Nyjer down (and send his helmit flying), Gaby got on top of him, pulled his arm back, and let fly with a solid punch with all his force. _That_ was punk.

(FWIW, I thought Nyjer was, for the most part, OK for the whole thing . . . until he walked off the field gesturing to fans (as Mark captured in the pic above). That was punk, too.

Slaten (and Riggs) get kudos for plunking Gaby in the 7th. Gaby earned it.

And maybe a fire's bit lit under some of the players? (We can only hope)

(I thought Ramirez was pretty classy giving Danny E a pat after he gets the hit on his first ever MLB at bat -- but, as another commentator noted: wasn't taking extra bases a "violation of etiquette" ;-) ).

Carl said...

Knowing what type of player Morgan is, can anyone really be surprised that he stole bases after being hit the first time? I predicted (privately, of course) before the game last night that if they plunked Nyjer, he was going to try to steal second and probably third if those bases were open, regardless of the situation. Of COURSE he was going to run on them, to try to repay them to some degree. NO ONE should be surprised at this, even if they were 11 runs down.

Bowdenball said...


The "play your heart out" line is, in my opinion, a bunch of BS. Can you name one player on the Nats who you don't think is still giving 100% effort? Can you point to a specific incident of less than 100% effort? Just because a guy doesn't make intense faces and antagonize opponents doesnt' mean he's not out there trying his hardest.

These guys are professionals. Virtually every player in the league gives a complete effort 99% of the time. That's why it's a big story when something like the BJ Upton thing from a couple months ago happens.

NatsJack in Florida said...

110% of zero is still zero. And that's what Nyjer Morgan is.... a zero.

His antics are disruptive and unprofessional and his baseball talents beyond speed are non-existant.

David Lint said...

My problem with Nyjer stealing isn't that he was doing it down 10 runs... it was another 'look at me' move. He doesn't give a crap about the Nationals. He only cares about HIMSELF.

Anyone that's bitching about Sanchez needs to get your priorities in line. He was only protecting his teammate... something none of the Nats were interested in doing for Morgan, btw.

Cut him, today.

John O'Connor said...

Anonymous said...

I found another MLB manager that did not know you should not steal base when you are losing by a lot of runs early in the game. It seems Edwin Rodriguez the manager of the Marlins broke this "rule" on August 28th when the Braves were pounding his Marlins 8-0 and then 10-1 by letting Ramirez and Bonifacio steal bases. I didn't see that the Braves pitchers felt they needed to hit any of the Marlin players in that game?


I agree with your larger point that there's nothing wrong with steal;ing thiose bases, but you've got the Marlins/Braves game wrong. The Marlins stole those two bases in the first two innings before the Braves put up a 6-spot in the bottom of the second.

Paul said...

You don't need to cite specific instances of other players dogging it to say that it is impressive to see what kind of passion this guy plays with. Yes, he is reckless, a hot head, is underperforming and has made done some amazingly dumb plays this year... But after 6 years of loyally following a routinely disappointing team that has carried folks likes FLop, Matt LeCroy, Micah Bowie, and Mike Bacsik it is kind of refreshing to have a guy like Nyjer.

If you are going to suck and play well below replacement level, might as well be entertaining in the process.

The nats need to find me a major league center fielder or end the circus and just cut him. but until that happens, we are stuck with Nyjer and all I can do is relax and enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I sure wish we had sold our Nyjer bobbleheads right after we got them, as they aren't going to be worth much now.

I never thought Nyjer had the smarts, temperament, judgment or skills to be both what the Nats are and what they are becoming. We have a bunch of increasingly able, competitive, and seemingly classy guys with whom a broad base of fans can relate. We don't need Nyjer in CF or at the plate, and as we improve we won't need his aggressive base-stealing. We certainly don't need the kind of bad blood he is bringing us.

Rizzo has built a firm enough foundation to not lose any face while getting rid of him. The only problem is that who else will want him?

I think the most interesting thing to come of this is that Zimmerman said he and Pudge talked to Nyjer. Zimmerman is four years younger than Nyjer yet is far more mature and his comments, without being condescending, indicate he sees Nyjer as 'younger' and having much to learn. I also am glad to see confirmation of my sense that Pudge is not just a mentor for the pitchers but a real clubhouse leader. I hope that he is treated as such as decisions are made about how much behind the plate time he gets versus Ramos.

Bye-bye Nyjer. Watch your back if you are so lucky as to stay in the Majors.

Pedro G. said...

I think Nyjer senses he's on the one-way Nook Logan Express and is acting out, doing the chest-pounding last night and mouthing off the night before at a Marlins fan. A MARLIN FAN. One of what, 15, in the stands?

Unfortunately Nyjer doesn't realize the image he's projecting in the age of YouTube. He had a right to steal those bases and charge the mound last night but most folks won't focus on that.

They'll just think he's the same idiot who had a temper tantrum in centerfield a few months ago while the live ball was a few feet away. Add that to his disappointing year and Rizzo probably won't have much trouble giving the CF job to the Flying Dutchman, the superior athlete.

FOTB said...

My two cents, after reading everything here:
- Don't steal bases when you're down big, early? Total BS and it makes no sense.
- The Marlins went after Nyjer because of what happened with St. Louis? More BS. When did Tony La Russa ever ask or need another team to take care of his business? They're chumps.
- The umps let this go too far, not tossing Volstad earlier.
- Nyjer should not have charged the mound, but good for him for sparking the team. Loved how they all came out of the dugout to mix it up a bit. They almost won the game last night and part of the reason is they showed some fire in the belly for a change. They didn't just roll over. Love it.
- Riggs showed some fire in the belly also, on the field and afterward. Love that too. Anyone think Manny would have reacted that way? Not a chance.
- Nyjer's future with the team should be based on his stats alone. Knock him for poor play, offensively and defensively, but not anything else.
- Can't wait till we're good enough to kick the s**t out of the Marlins regularly. Payback will be sweet, soon.
- Go Nats!

Wally said...

One more tidbit on the topic of whether the Nats, including Riggs, are really supporting Morgan. In the post game interview with Ray and Bob, Ray asks Riggs whether he thinks Morgan's play (stealing the bases, I think) was 'professional'? Riggs stutters and stammers for like 15 secs before dodging the question by non-answering with something like 'well, he thought that he had no option to slide the other night, and if he thought that, then he thought that he shouldn't have been hit, and so I am ok with everything that came afterwards'. It actually was kind of funny to watch Riggs squirm like that, but it also was pretty clear to me that Riggs was having a difficult time supporting the action but felt like he couldn't come out and say so.

So what I think we are seeing from the team is that they are trying to stay true to the unwritten baseball code of 'support your teammate/player up to the point that he has clearly crossed the line'. Against St Louis, it clearly crossed over, against Fla, not so clearly. So I think that they feel like they have no choice but to publicly support it, but in reality Morgan has lost the clubhouse and probably one of the big reasons that he will be gone (in addition to the performance issues discussed above).

Steve M. said...

320R2S15 said...
Riggs caused the problem by playing Morgan last night.

If Morgan didn't play and take his ball in the ribs, it would have happened the next time they played. You put him in the lineup like Riggleman did and he takes his HBP and then you move on...only the Marlins decided to escalate it into a brawl when Volstad through at him/behind him the 2nd time.

Why does anyone have a problem with Nyjer stealing 2nd base? It was the Nats that were behind, not the Marlins. If Bonifacio was stealing with a 10 run lead, that would be bad and besides that, Sanchez was holding Nyjer on 1st not playing behind him. It was a steal not defensive indifference. Stealing 3rd base was a little troubling, can you say Nyjer being Nyjer.

If ESPN viewers didn't know who Nyjer Morgan was before, they do now!

Anonymous said...

I think through all this noise the bigger issue is that Nyjer Morgan is a mediocre player at best; poor arm; poor OBP; poor base running; poor decision making. His only plus is that he covers a lot of ground in center field but all in all he is nor worth the trouble he is causing because he does not show any signs of attempting to improve his game.

move Bernadina to center; play Harris and Maxwell for the remaining 28 games and then Willingham returns next year; end of story.

CapPeterson said...

I'm glad Wally called attention to that exchange between Knight and Rigs after the game. They both clearly respect each other, Knight asked the tough question, and Rigs could not give him a direct answer, one that unequivocably supported Nyjer.

No, you don't give up when you're 10 runs down, but you play smart baseball. Nyjer stole the bases, but was he playing smart baseball? What if he had been thrown out (which wouldn't have been a shocker given his success rate). And, having stolen 2B, do you think he was computing his chances of scoring from 2B vs. scoring from 3B? Gotta agree with Sunderland (I think) and others, he was not thinking about the team, he was thinking about himself.

Anonymous said...

It boggles my mind how many of you are supportive of Nyjer Morgan, when you all bandoned Elijah Dukes!!!! Nyjer is a cancer and he must be cut out or the Nats will be the Johnstown Chiefs of MLB the rest of the season!

The Great Unwashed said...

I have to second Sunderland's 6:03 post about Morgan's overall poor play and why the team should take that into account before keeping him on the roster. This kind of foolishness just can't continue.

I like that Nyjer plays with fire in his belly, but as a professional you have to learn to harness that and make it work to your advantage. Morgan seems unable or unwilling to do that and now it's become a detriment to the team. While I'm of the school of thought that it's the Marlins job to stop Morgan from stealing, he was clearly rubbing his plunking in their faces. I think he deserved to be beaned in the first place for his actions during the play at the plate the night before, and then when he stole those two bases afterward, he violated the unwritten rule of not showing up your opponent. I know the Nats were down by ten runs, but his intent wasn't to get runs, it was the proverbial middle finger to the opposing team. (I just finished reading a book called The Baseball Codes by Jason Turbow which details all of the unwritten rules in baseball, and it explains all of this stuff in detail in case anyone is interested in checking it out.)

Anyway, all of this overshadows two other points. Why was Morgan back in the leadoff spot in the first place? He's a poor hitter with a low OBP. He'd been dropped to 8th in the line-up (at least two months too late in my opinion) for his poor play and other reasons, but he was supposed to earn his way back up. I don't see how he played his way back to hitting leadoff in just three games, especially in light of how he handled his line-up demotion by calling out Riggleman in the media. So Riggleman rewards Morgan by putting him back at the top of the order? I'm guessing there are a few veterans on the club who play the game the right way who are pretty steamed at him, no matter what they've said publicly. And if this isn't a clear example of the inmates running the asylum, then I don't know what is.

Anyone who has kids knows that if your kid throws a temper tantrum because you didn't buy him a candy bar at the store, then you don't give in to him because he'll just do it again next time. Why is this any different? Not to excuse Morgan, because he's responsible for his own behavior, but Riggleman's enabling of Morgan certainly isn't helping the situation.

The other thing this overshadows is he rest of the team. Both Dunn and Morse seem to have emerged from their slumps, and Morse in particular is hitting quite well lately. And Olsen and Stammen just aren't worth their roster spots. Instead, all of the attention is focused on Morgan, and for all the wrong reasons.

I do think there's one good thing to take out of all of this though. Maybe this turn of events will lead to a real heated rivalry between the Nats and Marlins, kind of like the Red Sox and Rays have had over the past few years. For the past three years the Marlins have owned the Nats. Maybe this will help turn that around.

HHover said...

Wally -

I agree that this is actually a pretty tepid show of public support from his teammates, both in their comments last night and on the field.

But remember, Nyjer had already lost a lot of stock in the clubhouse. Riggs moved him down from 1st to 8th; when Nyjer complained, his conflict-averse manager publicly criticized his low OBP. Riggs didn't bother talking to Morgan before benching him and apologizing to the Cards after he plowed into Anderson--but his teammates did pull him aside to tell him to chill. Zimm, 4 yrs younger, publicly says that Morgan still has "a little more to learn" about baseball.

Imagine a very different scenario where it was Zimm who got intentionally plunked and then thrown behind in the same game. He wouldn't have had to charge the mound because his teammates from the dugout would have beat him there. Now, you could say, well, Zimm would never do anything to get thrown at twice--he's not the hot-head Morgan is, and so the other team must be totally out of bounds to do that. Which is exactly the point.

Does anybody expect that a Nyjer-less Nats squad will seek retaliation or revenge on his behalf in their homestand 10 days from now? I don't--in part because they're being prudent, but also because they don't care enough.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the issue with Nyjer was the fact he stole two bases down by 10 or whatever it was. I think the issues were that he was yapping, waiving his arms and clearly trying to cause a commotion and start something up after being plunked. If he had stayed quiet with his gestures and his mouth and stolen the bases, it probably would have not gone any further. This fight was 100 percent Nyjer Morgan's doing. And it was based on nothing.

My take on Riggs is that he's been sick of Nyjer's act a lot longer than the fans have been (some of his comments about Nyjer at Natsfest were along the lines of 'take the good with the bad' when everyone was seemingly in love with him. I think privately Riggs has had enough of this act and gave Nyjer enough rope to hang himself. Which, in my opinion, he did.

Steve M. said...

Date: May 22, 2010
Time: Top of the 4th inning
Place: Nationals Park, Washington, DC

Mark Zuckerman wrote...But this one will forever be remembered for the bizarre play by Morgan in the top of the fourth, one that left the crowd of 30,290 booing the energetic center fielder and left Jim Riggleman contemplating a mid-game benching that would only have riled up the crowd more.

With one on and two out, Jones crushed a pitch from Craig Stammen to the wall in center field. Morgan backtracked and jumped the six inches or so he needed to reach the ball. It was not a routine play, but it certainly wasn't the most difficult play he's ever made.

The ball, of course, hit his glove but did not stick. That's a mistake on Morgan's part, but a forgivable one. His unforgivable mistake came a nanosecond later, when he pulled his glove off his right hand and with his his left hand slammed it to the ground out of frustration.

All the while, the ball sat 10 feet to his side, as two Orioles circled the bases.

"I went back for the ball, leaped up, and I thought the ball went over the fence," Morgan explained. "I guess it didn't and it was standing right there."

That was the point that many of us had enough of Nyjer Morgan. This was not the same player we saw in a Nationals uniform in 2009.

This player hurt his team during many games with his repeated mental mistakes, and who knows what has been going on behind closed doors. Well, this week Nyjer let the world know that in his pea sized brain, he could make things worse.

Rizzo could have reconfigured the outfield or they could have benched Nyjer and instead they let Nyjer be Nyjer. Nyjer brought this on himself by not self-improving, but I have to think Rizzo should have made a move on May 23rd 2010.

Golfersal said...

Very good writeup on this, yes it's very sad for Rizzo and Nats fans.
One problem that I see in this is showing a very weak Jim Riggleman in handling this whole deal.
First I think Rig waited too long to lower Nyjer to 8th and that whole incident of putting him on the DL last month was a sham.
Honestly I questioned the way Riggleman acted last Sunday in throwing Nyjer under the bus, but frankly I think that Riggleman should of thrown Nyjer under the bus back in July when he was picked off all the time.
You have that, plus the screwup catch against the Orioles in which he allowed a inside the park homerun. But a small thing that really got me down on Nyjer was in the game when he taunted a team about stealing a base, telling the catcher that he was going to steall off of him and then got caught. Sorry don't remember who the team was, but honestly Riggelman and Rizzo needed to sit Nyjer down for a week on this (Think the team was the Phillies).

Sorry I know that Rizzo has a lot at stake on this, he made the trade, he was rewarded for how good it looked last year but honestly it's like a fine meal that spoiled. That happens in life and that is what happened here.
For the sake of the Nats season and peace of fans, please get rid of Nyjer

NatsJack in Florida said...

OK... even I give up. Bring on Boomer Whiting.

Wally said...

HHover - agree.

RayMitten - completely agree. A manager stuck with a player that he doesn't like doesn't really have many options, since only very, very few can be completely dictatorial (look at what is going on with LaRussa and Rasmus). I think that he knew Morgan would react and that is why he batted him 1st.

My best guess as to what is going on with Morgan is that last year created a distorted self-image for him that wasn't realistic, yet he believed it. So his poor play this year is causing him to come to grips with his talent level but he still hasn't accepted it, which is making him play recklessly to get it all back in one fell swoop (and act crazy). Plus, I think that he knows that Riggs and his teammates don't have his back, so to speak, which adds to his frustration.

No, I am not a doctor, but I did sleep in a Holiday Inn last night.

Steve M. said...

When Nyjer Morgan was traded to the Nats on June 30th of last year, he was instantly the toast of the town. Rizzo got the steal (literally) of the year. Then on Aug 27th of last year, Morgan's season ended with the broken hand. He hasn't been the same since.

Nyjer came into Spring Training and struggled all of March. When the season started, Nyjer had a difficult time going back on catchable balls while making horrible decisions on the basepaths and throwing to cutoffs. He is at a career low with OBP hovering around .315 vs. a career average of .345 and a 2009 OBP with the Nats of .396 ! His batting average is also at a career low of .257

With those stats, Nyjer should not be starting and should be at best a bench player but after a week of controversial anger issues, Rizzo should DFA him immediately.

DCGuy7 said...

I'm thinking of bringing my Nyjer bobblehead back to Nats Park during the next homestand, and depositing it on top of the home dugout. Anyone else?

SilverSpring8 said...

" was the umpires who lost control of the game."

I've got news for you. Nyjer and Volstad were gonna be startin' some $h!t last night whether there were no umpires, four umpires, or 10 umpires and a mounted policeman. All the men in blue can do at that point is step back and take down names.

Steve M. said...

Anonymous said...
It boggles my mind how many of you are supportive of Nyjer Morgan, when you all bandoned Elijah Dukes!!!! Nyjer is a cancer and he must be cut out or the Nats will be the Johnstown Chiefs of MLB the rest of the season!

I agree with you. Too many have given Nyjer a pass because of his good natured Tony Plush act. That's the problem, it is all an act. You have been seeing the real guy all year starting on May 22, 2010.

He is easily replaceable by Roger Bernadina while putting in Willie Harris in LF with his .292 OBP.

Bowdenball said...

Anonymous 11:25-

Are you seriously equating Njyer's occasionally immature, out of control play on the field with three arrests for battery and threatening to kill one's wife? You think there's no way to make an ethical distinction that would allow you to support one player but not the other?


Anonymous said...


Actually, I think Nyjer's offenses are worse, Elijah did not have ANY incidents with the law while he was a Nat that did not surround his montary circumstances!!!

Nyjer has disgraced the franchise, his team, the uniform, MLB and serves as a horrible role model for children wanting to play baseball, whether it is his incomptent fielding and temper tantrums, to verbal abuse of fans or physical abuse of fans and players, there is no place in MLB for him at all...again how can you defend someone who has acted as he has over the past season, perhaps you are a criminal..brids of a feather you know!? :)

TheRealFrankL said...

There is no book that says you have to give up playing baseball in the 4th inning. Stealing second and third is totally legit, ESPECIALLY given the context that he:

a.) scored that run on a sac fly; and

b.) At one point, with the team down five, they had two men on. If those runs score its now a three run game (instead of four if he doesn't make his move) and the game is clearly far from over.

Volstad should have plunked him the first time up, like the Baseball code would call for, and not when he was safely up a bunch of runs. They also should have held him on-it was the 4th inning, not the 9th (not that I think that should matter, but I understand that it does).

Running into both catchers was wrong. The HPB and the benching took care of that. The Marlins made it an issue, not Nyjer.

N. Cognito said...

For those who still think Nyjer's hit was dirty.

From the Miami Herald:

Is it the worst hit he's ever taken?

"No, actually, it's not," Hayes said. "It was awkward. I jumped, barely got my feet under me, then I got hit. It looked worse because he squared me up directly in the shoulder. I took a hit in low-A where I took a forearm to the face and I was bleeding everywhere. That wasn't fun. This one, no one likes to get hit when they're standing still. It wasn't the hardest I've been hit, but it definitely hurt the worst."

Hayes said he hasn't received an apology from Morgan, but he isn't necessarily expecting one either.

"Obviously we all saw what he did last week. Put that aside, it was a pretty clean hit in my opinion," Hayes said. "Do I feel if he would have slid, he would have been safe? Absolutely. Do I think he decided to run me over when he rounded third? Absolutely. In terms of the hit, I thought it was a clean hit. I got the ball late. Nothing wrong with the hit. I just hope the intentions were good."

Read more:

Wally said...

I am not sure that Bernadina is the answer in CF for 2011. He has performed ok at the bat for an exceptional defender, but the numbers suggest that he isn't an exceptional defender, especially in CF. All told, in about 350 ABs, he has been worth less than 1 WAR. Maybe he grows into more than that because, even though he is fairly old for a prospect/rookie, he hasn't played that much so he could be a late bloomer. But I don't think that I would give him CF. I really think that they need, first and foremost, a reliable above average defender in CF. Look for offense from the other spots.

If only we could put Willie Harris's brain in Morgan's body. I would take that CFer. Didn't Steve Martin try that a while back?

Tegwar said...


I agree with you everyone knew that Nyjer was going to get hit. The umpires needed to toss Volstad when he hit the first batter or at least toss him when he hit Nyjer the fist time and because they didn't it escalated. I don't like Nyjer Morgan but Nyjer did nothing wrong in the Marlin series until he charged the mound. Nyjer should not have charged the mound he should have let the bat slip just as Volstad let the pitch slip, both would have still been tossed from the game the benches would have cleared but than this ugly incident would have finally ended. Slaten then would not have had to throw at Sanchez. I bet when these teams meet again the umpire crew will be more professional and toss out the fist player who instigates anything, as well they should.

Dave said...

Ok, guess will throw my quick 2 cents in.

The only things Nyjer did wrong was the indecent vs. the Cards and his behavior after the brawl. Hopefully he figures it out,as players have been blackballed for lesser things.

Anyone is allowed to run over the catcher if he is in the baseline. Personally I would have liked it if there was an apology to the catcher for ending his season even thought there was no need.

Swiping 2 bags in the 4th inning, come on its baseball. Payback, would have been going in studs up.

As for charging the mound after the second baseball bruise attempt, it had to happen.

These were my thoughts even before hearing Riggleman's interview last night.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Never thought Nyjers hit on Hayes was dirty, just unnecessary.

I still believe there is no way Nyjer slides feet first anymore so sliding head first into home plate will never be an option. The hockey body check approach is his only other option.

McLaren failed to provide much clubhouse support for Nyjer during his MLB radio interview a few minutes ago and the two broadcasters don't see much of a future for Morgan unless he has an epitheny.

Anonymous said...

"Have windy words no limit? Or what provokes you that you keep on talking?" Job 16:3

Anonymous said...

All thought provoking commments. You have to add in Dave's comments at 1:02 is that MLB suspension for allegedly throwing a ball at a fan in Philthy.

Nyjer has the looming 7 day suspension and will probably get a few more for the fight and his WWE ridiculous victory pose as he exited the field.

Rizzo has to take leadership here. Rizzo set the bar in Spring Training that bad behavior won't be a part of his team as it spills into the clubhouse. Now we will see if Rizzo is a hypocrite.

I think the overwhelming majority says to DFA Nyjer immediately. It will be interesting what Rizzo and MLB do with him.

N. Cognito said...

I predict Nyjer will get 3 games for his charging the mound, Volstad will get 5 games (1 start) and Marlins first baseman Chris Hanburger will get 3 games. Other might get a game or two.

Anonymous said...

N.Cognito - Nice reference to the old #55!

alexva said...

Morgan is just not that good, I don't blame him or dislike him for that.

Riggleman continued to play him hoping that maybe he was that good and partly because he did not have too many other options. There were 2-3 times when I thought Morgan deserved to be benched because his mistakes were glaring, I do blame Riggleman for this.

I think other players (Zimm for one) felt this way too but stayed loyal to a teammate.

When they call me to ask what they should do, I'll be telling them to send him home for the year. Between the suspension time pending and the remaining schedule he won't have any reason to be here.

Beyond that I'm afraid player and manager will have to be accountable for their mistakes. I could see them both gone based on my feelings on how they have behaved.

Unknown said...

Thanks to Mark for calling a spade a spade. And examining the issue from all sides. Too bad the Nats' clubhouse can't see there's more to this than that he plays hard. What a load of delusional nonsense.

Anonymous said...

When is the last time Morgan peed in the cup if you know what I mean. His actions are very very suspect

alexva said...

Samantha dear, you need an editor.

Jim in MD said...

Last night's episode was a disgrace and an embarrassment to the Nationals organization and their fans. Nyjer Morgan may have been be trying to come across as the big, bad dog, but his actions were closer to an annoying, hyper-active, foul-mouthed chihuahua.

Anonymous said...

Good job Gaby, good job!

N. Cognito said...

"Once again we are happy to present to you, The Season Ticket Holder Promo Item Giveaway! The annual giveaway starts on Monday, September 6 and will continue until Sunday, September 12. During this homestand you can redeem your Free Promo Item voucher for a promotional item the Nationals have previously distributed (based on availability). Each voucher is worth one promotional item and supplies are limited."

I sure hope they don't run out of Nyjer Morgan bobbleheads. I missed it the first time (on purpose!).

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time to change the rule so that it's not legal to run into the catcher when trying to score. Really, when was the last time you saw a catcher drop the ball in a collision? When was the last time you saw either the catcher or the runner injured? Time for a change!


Andrew said...

AD - I think High School Federation rules are no intentional contact with the catcher.

Josh said...

I'm not sure I believe in Solis. I would like to be wrong, but I think he will end up as a somewhat worse Lannan. The last thing the Nats need is more youngish pitch-to-contact low-strikeout pray-for-groundball guys... for every Tim Hudson (or John Lannan if you still believe in him) in a minor league system there are ten Garrett Mocks with just as much promise. IMO Olsen has proven a lot more than most of the Nats pitchers you guys are grouping him with... have you all already forgotten his eight no-hit innings earlier this year? Fortunately it looks like the Nats drafted some power pitchers this time around. Hopefully at least one of them will pan out and arrive here before Strasburg and Zimmerman bail out (i.e. hit free agency).

320R2S15 said...

Change the rule? you cannot be serious.

And, who you callin a spade?

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