Last night, Nyjer Morgan continued his disturbing trend of escalating bad behavior, when he charged the mound at Marlins pitcher Chris Volstad. Here’s the Nyjer Morgan timeline:
Last Tuesday, Morgan was jawing back and forth with Philadelphia fans, and allegedly threw a ball at them, hitting a spectator in the face. Morgan was suspended for 7 games, but appealed, saying that he had tossed a ball to fans he was having a friendly back-and-forth with, but that it accidentally hit a fan that wasn’t paying attention. Other Phillie fans seem to corroborate this story.
On Saturday, Morgan went out of his way to hit Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson, who was not blocking home plate (and was, indeed, on the 1B side of the dish and not in position to make a play). In the process, Morgan stepped over, but not on home plate. Ivan Rodriguez tried to get him to go back and touch it, but in the process put his hands on Morgan, who was called out for the infraction.
On Tuesday night, Morgan tried to score from second base on a fielder’s choice, hoping to catch Florida napping. Hanley Ramirez’s throw beat Morgan to the plate but was high, and Morgan tried to score by barreling into catcher Brett Hayes. Hayes was not blocking the plate, and Morgan likely would have been safe if he had slid. As it was, Hayes held the ball, Morgan was called out, and Hayes ended up with a dislocated shoulder and is now out for the rest of the year.
Morgan then returned to his position in center field, where he began shouting obscenities at the crowd. The video has since been taken down due to a copyright claim by MLB Advanced Media, but Morgan appears to be bragging about how he (and this is from TCM’s attempts to read his lips) “jacked that fat-a--ed b---- up.” Or something.
So let’s recap. Nyjer Morgan has hit two catchers in the last week, seeming to initiate contact deliberately. Indeed, he went out of his way to hit Anderson, and in both cases his enthusiasm for contact led to being called out and the Nationals losing runs from the scoreboard. Morgan, rather than apologetic for injuring Hayes or disappointed for not scoring, seemed proud and defiant afterward. This is a man itching to make some kind of point.
So last night, Morgan was thrown at by Volstad in retaliation for what was an ill-advised, wholly unnecessary, and blood-thirsty hit on Hayes. TCM, like many of you, doesn’t like the concept of the beanball, but Morgan took it like a good lad. After he apparently stole some bases (with his own team down 11), the Marlins apparently took offense, and escalated the situation. Volstad threw behind Morgan (which is never cool), and Morgan charged the mound. And it was on.
The Marlins are almost entirely to blame for the situation last night, in particular for the decision to throw behind Morgan. But Morgan is not without blame. His aggression on the diamond is out of control, and needs to be reined in by Major League Baseball. Upon exiting the scrum last night, Morgan raised his arms in triumph, proud of himself. Afterwards, he was unapologetic as well, saying the play on Tuesday was “hard” and that he was a “hard player.” Morgan seems to have dedicated to proving this point over and over in the past week and a half. And now, MLB needs to show him that it plays harder. Morgan needs to be suspended, but the question is for how long.
How long do you suspend a player that seems to be out of control? How long will it take to get the message across that what he’s doing is not only detrimental to other players, but to himself, to the game, and to his team? Baseball suspended Pete Rose for 30 days in 1988 for pushing an umpire. Lenny Randle got 30 days for punching out his manager, Frank Lucchessi. John Rocker got 28 days for his comments about homosexuals and other minorities. Frank Francisco got 16 games for throwing a chair into the stands during a melee in the bullpen. And Kenny Rogers was suspended for 20 games for pushing around a couple of cameramen.
It seems to The Common Man that Morgan’s actions, while slightly different, are on par with those above. Perhaps even worse, when we consider the escalation in his behavior in the last 10 days. Nyjer Morgan needs a nice vacation, and taking the last month of the season off would give him a chance to start on it early.