Two problems here: If you ignore his behavior in Philadelphia and St. Louis is a very big if. And, second, I think it’s a little overboard to call the Marlins head-hunters when both pitches were towards the legs. Otherwise, a fair assessment of the positions of all involved. However, the pattern of behavior is what is most troubling here.
“But if you ignore his behavior in Philadelphia and St. Louis, I don’t think Morgan did anything wrong in Miami.”
That’s the problem, though. He has repeatedly displayed behavior that would lead people to think his hit on the Marlins catcher was intentionally about hitting and hurting him, more than trying to dislodge a ball. The previous incidents should not be ignored, but instead, be taken into account when judging his more recent actions.
I posed this question before, but if Derek Jeter were to have run over the catchers in both instances, would he have been praised for being “hardnosed” “oldschool” and a “gamer”?
Good job explaining the sides of the story Alex. We’ve seen so many injuries due to getting hit by a 90mph fastball I cannot blame him too much for charging the mound. It’s a human response, and as was mentioned, he took his first beaning in stride. The escalation to a second beaning (I say that Volstad simply missed in hitting him with a fastball, that’s why it sailed behind him) because the Marlins had their feelings hurt from 2 steals in a potential slugfest is ridiculous.
90+ MPH heat coming at you is assault too. Try throwing a rock at 50 MPH at some one and see what happens. The fact is that Volstad threw at him twice. First time was ok, but even then he already hit two other batters? Really? In my opinion he should have been ejected after plunking the first two.
Not to mention he waited until it was ‘safe’ to throw at Morgan with his team way up. I call BS, if Volstad wanted to get back at Morgan he should have done it first pitch and let it go. And where were the umps in all of this? Three hit batters and THEN a ball thrown behind the batter?! Given the recent events between Morgan and the Marlins any plunking of a batter should have resulted in an immediate warning to BOTH dugouts.
I don’t have a problem with him stealing bases down double digits from a code of honor standpoint but it’s stupid baseball, even if he pulled it off. Not surpising that he leads the league in caught stealing. Not to condone throwing at him based on that, but it ws low and way behind him.
The Nationals remain a team dominated the ill-advised decision-making of Jim Bowden. This man seemed to think he could build a winner by selecting some of the worst individuals with high ceilings from other poor organizations across the league. Morgan, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, Felipe Lopez, Willy Mo Pena, Dimitri Young, Daniel Cabrera, Corey Patterson are all testament to the idea that physical talent coupled with non-smarts do not translate to anything other than an organizational headache. While Bowden has left the organization, remnants on the roster (and coaching staff – notice Pat Listach in the scrum) remain. The man should go down in history as one of the worst talent evaluators and an debacle of a GM for the franchise after it moved from Montreal.
…And they hit him for it and he took the base without incident. Issue over, message delivered.
The problem is the Marlins apparently think a team trailing by 11 should just roll over and play dead. I’d understand their anger (a little) if Morgan was doing it up 11 runs and it seemed to them like rubbing it in, but stealing bases when your team is TRAILING ranks about as high as Braden and his stupid don’t touch my mound crap when running back to first base after a foul ball on the unwritten rule list. Mike Schmidt was on ESPN this morning saying how absolutely absurd that is. “Unwritten rules” have been transformed into “I don’t like what you did, you slighted me”
If the game was over and the lead was so safe, why did the Marlins try to throw him out – why not just give him the base with defensive indifference?
The other problem was Morgan was the 3rd batter hit that game by the Marlins (the first 2 were presumably unintentional). After getting thrown behind, is Morgan supposed to just stand in until he gets drilled a 2nd time and becomes the 4th batter hit by Volstad? (for the ‘crime’ of stealing bases while trailing?). After hitting 3 batters what happens when a pitch aimed at Morgans backside misses up at his head by accident.
Look Morgan’s got issues, but after the first HBP he took the base and the issue should have been over. Had the Marlins done it in the first inning (which if they were so upset they should have),, it also would have ended right there.
False equivalence on the honor code. Being down by a bunch of runs is not nearly the same thing as being up by the same amount. Why ANYONE would see a problem with trying to get in better base position with a fast runner in the first scenario is beyond me, and makes me think everyone’s gone crazy.
Is that really why he threw at him, or is that just ESPN analyst, post-event spin? I really would love to see one, just one, coherent argument for why stealing bases when you’re down by a bunch of runs is either a) a bad idea, provided the runner is capable, or b) unsportsmanlike.
“Morgan’s teammates believe that he had no malicious intent in throwing the ball into the stands…”
How can you even write that sentence??!!
How is it possible to heave a baseball into a crowd without having malicious intent?Clearly he meant to do harm, to hurt someone, or he would never have thrown the ball at all. Why on earth would you attempt to defend or excuse such a blatantly antisocial, if not criminal, action?
Comment by Mike Treder — September 2, 2010 @ 5:22 pm
Nyjer Morgan was acquired by Mike Rizzo, not Jim Bowden. And I don’t think it’s fair to paint all those people with a broad brush as “the worst individuals.” Some of them, obviously, have had serious issues in the past, like Dukes, and Milledge and Young have had problems of their own. But I don’t remember hearing horror stories about Lopez, Pena, Cabrera, or Patterson, during their Washington tenures — other than, of course, their results on the field. To the best of my knowledge, Morgan wasn’t known as a bad guy when he was in Pittsburgh, or last year. That’s what makes all of this so surprising.
I wrote it because that’s what Mark Zuckerman reported his teammates believe. Like I said, I honestly have no idea what happened, because I haven’t seen the video. I feel very uncomfortable ascribing any intent to someone when I don’t have an adequate context on the action. His teammates do have that context, and so does the fan who defended him. Because I don’t have enough information to form my own opinion, I must evaluate theirs. They may not be right, but they at least have the context to make it.
I believe many Pirate fans would view Morgan attempting to steal a base as providing a good opportunity for the other team to record an out. Morgan overslides bases so regularly that you can get him out even if he beats the throw.
Regardless if Morgan was in the right or wrong, his play this year has been very substandard and he is getting a bit long in the tooth for someone who is yet to become eligible for arbitration. I believe the Nats will be looking at other options for CF next year and that Morgan will be lucky if he remains as a reserve outfielder..
Comment by MaineBucs — September 2, 2010 @ 5:27 pm
I understand that Morgan was not a Bowden pickup, but it happened shortly after Bowden’s departure and the organization’s scouts remained in place from JB’s tenure. I suspect they viewed Morgan through a lense long-established by Bowden. As for the others:
– Lopez was traded from Toronto due to attitude issues and organization-wide frustrations with his poor work ethic. The fact he has bumped across 7 organizations in 9 years probably attests to this.
– Agreed, Patterson and Cabrera are not problems but rather players that have consistently fallen well short of all expectations for him.
It’s probably a bad idea because to come back from a huge deficit you need big innings. Successfully stealing a base only helps score one run in the inning, while being caught stealing hurts the chances of a big inning.
But I don’t get the “unsportsmanlike” claim at all. It’s great to watch a team still playing hard when way behind.
I think Nyjer did a lot wrong. First, I agree with Mike. Throwing a ball into the stands hard enough to injure a fan is malicious intent towards someone, though it wasn’t towards who he hit. What happened in St. Louis is completely idiotic and Riggleman should have let Morgan take his medicine there. Running into Hayes is the least offensive act he had, considering he really just screwed up his chance to score.
The stolen bases are more concerning than you think. If you see the replays, Morgan is barrelling through the bases, seemingly trying to take out the 2nd and 3rd basemen. I hope that is the reason why he was thrown again, not just for stealing down 11. I think he gets 15-20 games total and hopefully he remembers how to act like a human being before he steps on a field again.
I get kind of tired of the notion that it’s ok to hurl a baseball at someone at 90 mph from less than 60 ft away but it’s bad form to steal a base b/c of it or go out and punch the SOB who threw it. If Volstad was so tough, he wouldn’t hide behind the weapon in his hand and the unwritten rules that allow him to deliberately try to hurt someone with it. Players have been killed from being hit by pitches. If one of those misses its target by 12 inches or so and hits him in the eye, as Mike Torrez did to Dickie Thon (accidentally, of course), it changes or ends his career. That’s serious stuff and pitchers shouldn’t be allowed to just do that with impunity.
The hit on the catcher is really fishy, since he could’ve scored by sliding. But it’s within the rules of baseball and it’s the kind of “hard-nosed play” that’s lauded by sportswriters and fans typically. Who knows if he was really trying to hurt the catcher. It’s certainly suspicious but he was within the rules of the game to do it.
according to a fan at the game and near the incident said morgan was taking the hecklers well…also a kid was asking for the ball when morgan lobbed it and went over the kid and hit a random guy who wasn’t playing attention
Comment by It'sATarp — September 2, 2010 @ 5:42 pm
If pitchers are allowed to throw 90 mph fastballs at hitters with impunity, they ought to let batters throw their bats at pitchers with impunity. They’d move slower and pitchers would have more of an opportunity to get out of the way. Pitchers just shouldn’t be allowed to just “plunk” batters b/c that’s part of the game’s history.
In fairness to Riggleman, he sat Morgan the next day. He probably knew that, if Morgan had played, he’d have been plunked and there would’ve been a fight, thus jeopardizing other members of the team. I think he did the right thing by sitting him. Plus, a manager can’t willfully make one of his players a beanball target.
When the Cardinals would have thrown at him, Morgan should have known it was coming, deservedly, and just take his base like he did the first time last night. If Morgan has no control over his emotions, he shouldn’t be playing at all. Managers put players at risk all the time. Torre didn’t keep Clemens from pitching at Shea, for one example. The best players will play, unless they are deemed not mentally ready to play.
Yes, Morgan is a terrible base runner, at least base stealing-wise. He has 31 steals and 21 PO and CS. Alex was wrong when he said that Morgan “might have” scored had he slid in Florida. It was certain he would have scored. It was another boneheaded play (running into the catcher) which may have cost his team the game (at least a run). You only run into the catcher when he has the ball and it waiting to tag you. If you can score with a slide, you slide. It should have been obvious to him that the throw was high. Perhaps he didn’t have time to think about it, but that is one reason that you should generally slide and NOT bowl over the catcher. If you slide, you can avoid contact altogether. If you run into the catcher, you are guaranteeing contact. If he has the ball and does not drop it, you are guaranteeing an out.
He should’ve (a) charged the mound the first time or (b) waited on first for an opportunity to take out someone on a double play ball rather than stealing his way around the bases down 11 runs. The steals just evidence how much he’s a punk who doesn’t get it.
Also of note, the pitches were not anywhere near his head. Getting hit in the backside at 90 mph is going to do less damage than running full speed and putting your shoulder in someone’s back.
If you read comments from the Marlin players, it wasn’t so much the fact that he went and stole two bases. The rule that he cannot steal when down by so much is a little absurd, however, the matter in which he did so was totally wrong. He slid through the bag both times, the second time almost knocking over Helms at third base. After the second steal he also briefly says some words (I can’t lip read so I have no clue), presumably something that would further tick Helms and the Fish off.
Morgan’s a tough player, and I respect that, but I don’t think you can condone any of his actions because of the intent. His plowing over of Hayes in and of itself was not a dirty play, however, the intention could have been dirty.
Also, I don’t believe in anyone trashing Gaby Sanchez. Sure, Volstad could have protected himself, but you do not leave your guys out there. It’s part of team camaraderie.
Comment by Marlin Fan — September 2, 2010 @ 6:23 pm
Derek Jeter would’ve scored both times. It’s utterly asinine to try and equate his behavior. He shouldn’t be trying to hurt people in meaningless games. He has a hockey background, so he should know if he pulls those tricks, he’s going to have to face the music. I want Volstad on my team now. I can’t think of any recent injuries from someone getting hit in the body intentionally. Most injuries from getting hit that I can recall are from unintentional balls that get away or to the hands/head from diving/crowding the plate.
And baserunners shouldn’t be allowed to shoulder people in the back while running full speed with impunity… There was a reason he got plunked, and that’s because it’s the only way to regulate that kind of behavior (unless MLB starts suspending/ejecting guys for going out of their way to injure others on the basepaths).
1) Pitchers know better than anyone else how dangerous baseballs can be. I know of no pitcher that throws at full velocity when they are “plunking” someone. Both times Volstad hit/threw behind Morgan, they were 75-80MPH change-ups. In addition, Volstad was not having the best night on the mound: there is no sign that the other two hits-batsmen were hit intentionally.
2) There is nothing inherently wrong with stealing bases when you’re down so many runs, per se, but for someone with Morgan’s speed was it really necessary to steal third as well? Yes, he did score on a sac fly, (a sac fly that fractured the wrist of the reserve second baseman, by the way) but really?
3) I do not see any reason for why Morgan should not have slid Tuesday night. Not only did it separate the shoulder of the Marlins catcher (the third Marlin catcher to go down for the season!!), it prevented the Nats from scoring a run, and possibly from winning the game as well.
There is no mercy rule in baseball. Up 10 runs, maybe I get not stealing out of respect. But I did a double take when Aaron Boone criticized Nyjer Morgan for hustle when they were DOWN by 10 runs.
The Marlins were mostly angry about the SBs because they wanted to go home. Nut up and play the game for all 9 innings. If those SB sparked a massive rally, no one would be talking about them as “bush league.”
Here’s what I don’t understand … what’s the big deal with Volstad throwing far behind him? If he’d hit Morgan I could understand why Nyjer would charge the mound. But he didn’t; he threw it far behind him. It was a warning, it wasn’t actually a HBP.
Are there any real men on this page??? I’m not a Nat or Marlin fan therefore I am neutral. Morgan may be a hot head but he did what u do when u get plunked by a pitch….u steal a base or two. Do u expect him not to be angry after getting hit by a pitch and then getting thrown at again? If he didn’t charge the mound, who knows, Volstad probably would’ve tried to hit him again! So if you ask me, he had enough and decided to stand up for himself which i think most real men would do. And to the ones who think its not right to assault someone, you’re probably the ones who were raised to get hit by a bully and not fight back. The only thing Morgan did wrong was when he left the field after the brawl making a jackass of himself. Had he left the field in a humble manner and with some pride, I would’ve been proud of the guy for standing up for himself like anyone should.
I’m the author of one of the posts Alex linked above (Thanks!) but I have to say that the amount of ink spilled has forced me to reconsider my position ever so slightly. Alex is right to say that you can’t just lump all of his activities together, call him a dirty player and excuse anything that happens to him. Unless someone who was at the Philly game says otherwise, it seems most likely that the ball that hit the fan was an errant rainbow toss to end the inning, not a bullet directed at any particular fan.
The collision with Cards catcher Bryan Anderson was cheap, dirty and stupid, but I’ve yet to find anyone (other than Morgan) who says otherwise, so what’s the issue there? Are the Marlins claiming a right to exact “baseball justice” on the Cards’ behalf? The collision with the Marlins catcher was ill-advised, but no worse than any dozen other home plate collisions not involving Nyjer Morgan. So long as catchers can block the plate they’re going to be at risk of injury in those types of plays.
As far as plunking Morgan goes, the Marlins lost the moral high ground on that one when Volstad opted not to hit Morgan in his first at-bat. Either it’s about balancing the scales or it’s about giving your team the best chance to win. Volstad opted to go for the win, and good on him, but the Marlins can’t have it both ways. Morgan got hit, took his base and proceeded to play baseball. The Marlins are the ones who optedto go the WWE route.
their is good reasoning behind that “unwritten rule” that you don’t steal bases when you are down by that many runs. in those two bases he stole, morgan gained a grand total of .002 WPA. i don’t care about the emotional context, that was a stupid move if he was trying to help his team win.
Comment by dutchbrowncoat — September 2, 2010 @ 7:48 pm
Just out of curiousity: have you ever been hit in the backside with a 90+ mph baseball? It *really* does not tickle. A solid shot can leave a bruise from your rump to your knee. And as someone with a bit of a colorful youth, I am not convinced that getting rammed by someone does more damage than a good beaning. It could go either way, but it’s been my experience that baseballs typically hurt a heck of a lot more. I’d be willing to bet that if you asked Morgan today if his rump or chest was more irritated, that he’d respond that it was the former.
Why shouldn’t he have stolen the bases? Just because he’s on a crappy team he should stop playing hard? GM’s will certainly look at his 2010 stats for his next contract so he should do all he can to prove his value no matter the situation.
Comment by Mitchello — September 2, 2010 @ 9:09 pm
Taking each event in isolation, you can make a somewhat case to defend Morgan. Taken them as a whole, which is what they are and NM is being a punk or whatever term you want to use.
He drilled the catcher, they drilled him. They’re even. It’s over. Oh, but it’s not over …
Up 14-3 he steals second base. I can go 50/50 on this one. They drilled him, he stole second with a big lead. They’re “even”. But, no NM has to steal 3rd, not because it’s important to get into bette scoring position, but to stick it to the Marlins … as evident to all the crap he was talking at 3B. I don;t have a problem with him tagging up on the pop-out … even being up 14-3.
everyone knew he was going to get drilled his next time up. He got thrown behind. I would have throw it behind him a little higher, or throw at his front shoulder and at least made him hit the dirt to get out of the way. He charged, I can respect that. All of the antics to the crowd afterwards, really just show that this was all about NM showing everyone he’s bad. Wow. Really impressive. 130+ games to prove it, and he didn’t. Now he is. Again, wow. Way to NM.
He put himself above everyone and everything else. Not by simply playing tough, or showing great hustle helping his team. He distinctly and (IMO) intentionally rubbed it in with the steal of 3rd (the only thing I really take issue with).
As for no lead being safe …. are you insinuating that WAS brought in the same relievers they would as if it were a 5-3 game? I’m betting they didn’t, because some leads are reasonably safe, and the M’s making it a 16-10 game hardly illustrates the point.
IMO, you’re being contrary just for contrary sake, or because you don’t like the unwritten rules or code of conduct that baseball players follow.
I think NM is showing a pattern of behavior that shows he is trying to cause trouble, and is making personal vendettas more important than the game, the team, etc. I have a problem with that.
I have no idea why Volstad didn’t charge at Morgan. Oooh, he slammed his glove down and then waited for a guy half his size to come running. If you’re gonna throw a pitch knowing that a fight will ensue, then dammit fight. Kyle Farnsworth gave an illustration of how it’s done. Everyone knows you have time for one punch before the pile ensues. If you’re gonna start the fight, then get in that punch. But, that’s me, as a former player, talking there.
Comment by CircleChange11 — September 2, 2010 @ 9:12 pm
You think that’s what really happened?
He was just stealing third to get in better position?
Well heck, I’m surprised the Marlins didn;t praise his hustle and dedication to scoring every run possible to help his team.
Some folks are being intentionally naive, either that or they don;t have enough playing experience to really know what’s going on.
Comment by CircleChange11 — September 2, 2010 @ 9:15 pm
Yeah. He tried to punch the pitcher and pretty much missed and then got clotheslined. Yet he walked off the field like he was the most badass guy in the world…
Comment by Mitchello — September 2, 2010 @ 9:18 pm
Math is not my strong suit, but I’m fairly sure that .002 WPA is still a positive contribution to your team’s chances of winning. Apparently one of Wes Helms’s unwritten rules gripes was that Morgan stole “even though we weren’t holding him on.”. If that’s true it’s the functional equivalent of conceding the base. Surely in that case you wouldn’t object to the runner advancing?
Excellent article. As a Nats fan, I’ve seen a lot of ink and a lot of emotions on Morgan the last 24 hours. I’m most frustrated that he’s become such a polarizing figure within the fan base. You’ve got people new to baseball in DC (including sports radio hosts) who don’t understand the context or haven’t seen how Morgan’s play has been so frustrating for fans who have watched or listened to most of the games this season.
The only thing that the article omits is that a lot of the negativity surrounding Morgan is based on the way he was taunting Marlins fans on his way off the field. That was disgraceful and unforgivable and will probably lead to a longer suspension.
I thought he deserved blame for the stolen bases originally but I’ve kind of changed my mind on that one. I wish he’d chosen not to charge the mound and not to escalate things because the guy has an image problem and he’s made it much, much worse.
Personally, I’d prefer he’d gone old school with another retaliatory tactic. Wait to see what the umps do after they had thrown behind him. Good chance Volstad would have gotten thrown out and he wins that way. If Volstad doesn’t get thrown out, bunt one up the line. Run over Volstad if he covers. If he doesn’t, get on base and then run wild on him again with some attitude.
Nyjer’s an emotional guy, though, and I’ve given up expecting him to come up with heady play to maximize his fringy talent.
Circlechange I like your posts but you’ve got one important thing backwards – he stole second and third DOWN 14-3, not UP 14-3. Stealing to score one run isn’t that likely to make a difference, obviously, but in the 4th inning down big I think you do what you can to score runs.
because the wpa is so small, it would take a very very high sb success rate to justify it. a single out is important in a game like that. for example, the sac fly that scored morgan was actually a negative wpa even though the run scored. and maybe they weren’t holding him on, but morgan gets caught a lot anyway and the catcher came up throwing hard the first time.
Comment by dutchbrowncoat — September 2, 2010 @ 10:44 pm
He has a history of sliding through bases. Quite frankly, he just sucks at sliding. Although, I have no doubt that he attempted to hit the fielders with his helmet when he was sliding.
Comment by Vladman1327 — September 2, 2010 @ 11:22 pm
This article makes a lot of sense.
When I first heard about the morgan incident this morning, I thought that he was stealing two bases while his team was UP by 11 runs as an F-you to the marlins. But once I figured out that the Nats were down at the time I had a really hard time figuring out what everyone on the marlins was so pissed about. Morgan is still a decent basestealer (especially when one considers that only 5 of his 15 CS have come since July 1, while 20 of his 31 SB have come over the same period. He’s above the break-even level for SB in the second half of the season, and it’s not like his team didn’t need the runs! Baseball’s rules about what is and is not proper conduct in blowout games just don’t make much sense at all. Morgan’s done plenty of silly things in the past few weeks (and he’s been punished for most them by MLB or his own team), but I don’t think he deserves anything more than the “normal” suspension that baseball hands out for charging the mound. There are mitigating factors for the actual brawl (why wait till his 3rd AB if honor demands he be hit in today’s game, why throw at him again for the SBs etc), but he also taunted the crowd on his way off the field. all in all, those factors even out and 5-ish games seems like a good starting point.
Comment by hennethannun — September 3, 2010 @ 12:23 am
why did volstad put his arms down to his sides when morgan was approaching. he should have been protecting his face.
James – he got punked the first time for that and Morgan did not charge the mound. Did you see the game?
The issue is throwing at him a SECOND time for stealing bases.
Also if a catcher doesn’t want to be shouldered don’t stand on the plate or in front of the path of the runner. When a guy steals 2nd does the shortstop block the pat or stand on the base to make the tag?
There was no throw to 3rd base on his second steal… couldn’t the 3rd baseman just have gotten out of the way altogether?
Some players slide through the bag to avoid a headfirst slide from getting them to the base slower. If he was trying to runover one of the infielders wouldn’t he go spikes first as opposed to using his hands/head/shoulder?
I don’t think the unwritten rule works that way. The justification you’re appealing to comes from the fact that what Morgan did was not a rational risk to take given the goal of winning the game for the Nationals. Fine. On that basis, I can see the *Nationals* being upset with Morgan for stealing bases when they were already down ten runs, but why should the *Marlins* be upset? Had I been a Marlins player, I would have regarded Morgan the same way I regard any player who makes sloppy mistakes after I’ve successfully rattled him. If I’m a Marlins player, I *want* to get into Morgan’s head and increase the chances that he makes mistakes. Unless getting upset when he makes the mistakes makes further mistakes on his part more likely, I don’t understand their reaction. In any event, I don’t think the unwritten rules are supposed to improve a team’s chances of winning — after all, there are unwritten rules like, “Lay off when you’re already up by a lot so that you don’t embarrass the other guys.”
I said I didn’t have an issue with it from a code of honor standpoint. However, down 10 runs you don’t take the risk of running yourself out of an inning. That’s bad baseball. His own manager should clothesline him.
I cannot recall Jeter ever trying to run over a catcher. Jeter typically slides.
A better example, if you’re looking for a Yankee to complain about, would be Teixiera. He has run people over in his career.
Comment by Rob in CT — September 3, 2010 @ 9:00 am
I’d apportion some blame to Morgan, more to the Marlins, and some to the umpire who failed to immediately eject Volstad.
Morgan probably deserved to be plunked (or something… I actually loathe the plunking-as-retribution thing). He appeared to take it in stride. The question is whether his two steals were somehow re-opening a closed book. I have no problem with guys stealing, no matter what the score (I think the “unwritten rules” on steals are dumb as hell). That said, he apparently slid in really hard (though head-first, not spikes-up) and then was mouthing off at 3b. Given his past history, it’s pretty easy to believe that he was being an ass (which would mean he didn’t take the plunking in stride after all).
Throwing behind him is obviously intentional and Volstad should have been tossed immediately. Ump FAIL. The Marlins manager/coaches are also responsible for not preventing things from going that far.
Charging the mound is, to me, unacceptable behavior. Then again, I think repeatedly throwing at hitters is also unacceptable behavior. And the ump has a responsibility to throw the pitcher out of the game there. The reason I’m anti-charging the mound is that, theoretically, the umpire should be policing the game. Not the hitter. It appears the ump failed to do so. So perhaps you can forgive Morgan for thinking it was up to him.
Comment by Rob in CT — September 3, 2010 @ 9:16 am
One question: While I don’t really agree, I completely get why the Marlins would be pissed for stealing twice if the Nats were UP 10 runs. But for the life of me, I can’t fathom why it was wrong to steal DOWN 10 runs. Are you not supposed to try to come back??? This part of the story just makes no sense to me. It was only the 4th inning, right?
sorry if i was not clear, but i am not in any way saying that the rule came about as a result of analyzing the situation.
i guess i just get frustrated to see so many people saying things along the lines of “he was trying to help his team win”. given how he got to first base, the he slid, how he acted after the steals, and that he ran on consecutive pitches indicates to me that his motives were not team first. but even if they were, it seems to be a poor move from a sabermetric standpoint as well.
Comment by dutchbrowncoat — September 3, 2010 @ 10:19 am
Frankly, it doesn’t matter whether or not you consider “The Code” to not steal while leading/trailing justified; what matters is that this is a well-known and well-established convention, which Morgan blatantly flouted. By stealing the two bases immediately (as in on the first two pitches) after getting plunked, Morgan was giving a giant middle finger to the Marlins. They were completely justified in throwing behind him in this instance, since he clearly did not respect that the Marlins were pi$$ed at him for his actions the night before. He deserves to be suspended for the remainder of the season.
They guy, to me, who comes off the worst in this is Wes Helms. What a pansy. I have always liked him since his days with the Braves but he’s completely lost all of my respect. Dude needs to turn in his man card. Whining that Morgan was “treating the Marlins bad”. Because he stole two bases aggressively. Go play softball.
You may not agree with some of the ‘unwritten rules’ but do any of you think he stole those bases in a desperate attempt to draw his team to within 10 runs? If he had walked or singled instead of getting beaned, do you think he takes off for second then third with his team down 11? Cuz I think he was mad about getting plunked, and stole those bases to piss off the Marlins. Intent aside, you put a guy out of the lineup for the year, you get beaned, you take it. Stealing those bases was asking to get hit again, and that’s what he got. If he wants to fight about it, that’s cool by me. But the hefty suspension coming his way is cool by me too.
Volstad was likely in the wrong for throwing at Morgan the 2nd time but during the ensuing fight Morgan got what was coming to him. The play at the plate the night before wasn’t a borderline case, nor was the play against St. Louis. The Marlins catcher had to jump to catch the ball while Morgan was about 5 feet away. He slides, he’s safe. Instead he lit up the catcher like a free safety. To continue the football analogy, if Hines Ward gets torched by an ethically questionable hit does anyone outside of Pittsburgh complain? The majority would not. Cheap shot artist clocked by a cheap shot…I don’t even see the spilled milk the author is crying about.
If they are all but giving him second and third, he should take it. Generally, it’s stupid baseball, but in this case it was almost defensive indifference. If they didn’t want him to steal they should have held him closer.
Ooh! Are you the Bob from the Mike Jacob post a couple of seasons ago? So, because UZR fails to account for a hitter forgetting how to hit and propensity for getting into fights, it is a useless metric? Morgan was extremely valuable last year with his bat, glove, and legs. UZR has it’s problems, but they are documented and understood. Attack UZR, don’t blindly attack all “SABER” metrics (or SABR metrics), for that matter.
When you’re sprinting down the line, 5 feet (less than 1 stride) is not enough time to make a decision on whether to slide or jar the ball loose. If he wanted to slide he would have started sliding at 5 feet or earlier and the decision would have been made even before that. Plus the decision to slide is often influenced by the man on deck who signals whether to slide, run through or knock the ball loose. This is due to the runner usually not being able to see the play that behind or in his peripheral vision clearly while running. People need to stop calling the play on the Marlins catcher dirty. The one on the Cards catcher was the only dirty play he made all week.
I had the score backwards and it completely changes my view. Up 14-3 the Marlins chose to make the game a personal issue instead of taking the win and letting the scoreboard do the talking.
Stealing 2nd and 3rd as a means if sticking it to a pitcher and catcher making a point with a big lead is fine by me. If they want to shut him up, throw him out.
Given the Marlins situation, I don’t even condemn his post-fight antics. Some fans get completely outrageous with their comments and say things they would never say to a person standing right next to them.
Morgan should back off the running into the catcher thing unless there is a play at the plate. Even with my affinity for catchers, collisions are a part of the job. If you don’t want plowed your choice is to position yourself in front of the plate and go for a sweep tag. You can’t stand on the plate or on the 3rd base side and expect the runner to try and go around.
Ray Lankford plowing Darren Daulton is still one of my favorite plays. Lankford shoulda been a strong safety on some NFL team.
Comment by CircleChange11 — September 3, 2010 @ 4:46 pm
“Morgan, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, Felipe Lopez, Willy Mo Pena, Dimitri Young, Daniel Cabrera, Corey Patterson are all testament to the idea that physical talent coupled with non-smarts do not translate to anything other than an organizational headache”.
Careful there. If you made the list any longer you might have had to include a white guy.
Besides, Daniel Cabrera is perhaps the least physically talented major MLBer of the last decade.
From a Thomas Boswell chat on the washingtonpost.com
“Tom Boswell: As I’ve said, I root for Cabrera because he is a very poor natural athlete, can’t repeat his delivery, etc., yet has worked hard to get as far in the game as he has. I respect his effort and what he’s done for his family with very little except a huge frame and willingness to work. But….
I hate to watch him pitch more than almost anybody I’ve ever seen. He has no idea where the next pitch is going __ever. He can throw a fastball on the black or a killer curve__ then try to duplicate it and throw a fastball over the catcher’s head or bounce the same curve five feet in front of the plate.
I never thought the Nats should have spent $2.6M for him at the time. I said so. I asked Bowden, “Don’t you watch Oriole games?” I asked, “Don’t you know he is the worst athlete the O’s ever tested?” They claim they did know, that Mazzone said good things about him. Well, Leo never said any good things about his pitching to me! ”
Also, I don’t think that Dimitri Young physical troubles due to diabetes is in anyway related to Morgan.
Is there really any point to your “argument” other than an attempt to lump all of the African American outfielders the Nats have had together? Or is this an even worse attempt to equate Morgan to Dukes? I don’t remember Nyjer hitting anyone with a baseball bat or threatening to kill his children’s mother.
Ironically, if you told me about all of these actions and told me they were done by a outfielder best known for base stealing, I would have guessed Ty Cobb.
LOL Thousands of words wasted on a wannabe thug who should have been suspended the rest of the year. This waste of a roster space is clearly out of control and needs intensive psychotherapy.
And it’s not a recent thing either. Nobody mentioned the bonehead play earlier in the year where he thought a fly ball bounced off his glove and over the fence for a home run. He childishly slammed his glove on the ground and pouted while the ball lay about 10 feet from him. That was the first clue this guy was coming unglued.
They saw a problem because he was doing it as an act of defiance. He didn’t charge the mound, but he didn’t just accept the punishment the way the Marlins thought he should. Someone isn’t going to get plunked typically for stealing while down by double digits (Except perhaps by his own manager). Doing it in retaliation for a “deserved” HBP is where he went wrong, by the unwritten rules.
What runner makes the decision to slide 5 feet from the plate? The decision made earlier than that. If you decide to slide 5 feet from the plate, by the time your body actually exceutes the slide, your butt might hit the plate.
seriously, go outside and try it (not on the sidewalk *grin*)
When you see a catcher standing upright, knees not bent, foot not in front of the plate … that usually your signal to slide. When he’s got the plte blocked, but has yet to receive the ball, and your only choices are to try to go around him or through him … through him is probably your best chance.
In both of these cases, a slide was the much easier play, unless you like to plow the catcher. Some guys do, as it’s a free chance to drill someone when they cannot defend themselves.
Think about that, the decision to get your body into position to brace for serious contact that you are initiating takes place a lot further up the line then 5 feet away.
Not only that, but you’re now messing with the one guy on the field that EVERY pitcher will protect. In short, that means you and your mates are going to get beaned. There really aren;t a whole lot of times that one would be forced to plow the catcher. There are, however, a good number of times you could choose to plow the catcher even if it isn’t necessary.
It’s been my experience that players generally respect each other’s career not to engage in an injury-risk play unless you have no choice or everything is on the line.
Comment by CircleChange11 — September 3, 2010 @ 11:12 pm
There are a number of isolated incidents here. Morgan running into catcher #1 on Team #1 does not warrant payback for running into catcher #2 on team #2. And even if it did, Morgan took his medicine & went to 1st base without incident.
Here’s where things went wrong…
Morgan steals 2nd, then 3rd; then every QUITTER AND LOSER on the planet takes offense to it. The Nationals were DOWN by 11 runs, NOT UP by 11. So if Aaron Boone expects a team to act like a bunch of quitters just because they are losing on the scoreboard, then he is a quitter… NOTE: The final score was 16 – 10. So, the question is: At what point is the losing team supposed to throw in the towel and concede defeat? When do they collectively say, “We quit, so you win”.
My point is this – if you throw at the guy who has just proven that he is NOT a quitter, then YOU are someone who finds quitting and losing acceptable. YOU are the quitters. You are the Marlins; and you are Aaron Boone.
The guy is having a bad season for a losing team, and is frustrated. His career path and earning potential are a lot different than they were 365 days ago. The frustration and stress are manifesting themselves as a series of borderline-dirty plays. Some guys (Pete Rose, ASG) are praised for their grit and not-giving-up-ness and unwillingness to ever accept less than 100% effort. Some guys are decried as thugs who don’t belong in polite society. The decision has apparently been made that Nyjer’s a thug. Nyjer could use some help dealing with anger. Nyjer has done nothing that I know of that makes me think he is not a quality human being. If a bad GM is in the mood to give this guy away in the off-season, I certainly hope the GM of my team is listening.
Dombrowski? You’re chatting with Washington? Right?
So Nyjer’s sole intent in stealing two bases with his team down by 11 runs was to get in better scoring position? Come on. Swiping bags, any bags, with your team down by 11 runs is hideously bad baseball. Nyjer’s not a real cerebral baseball player, but do you think even he would steal down 11 runs if none of this happened and he had drawn an innocent walk in the fourth inning?
This is true. But, I wouldn’t be flaunting after getting completley effed up in a fight no matter what the size difference.
Comment by Mitchello — September 4, 2010 @ 10:43 pm
The hit on the catcher, actually, isn’t fishy at all. If you watch the replay intently, on rounding 3rd Morgan looks toward second base and sees Hanley coming home with the ball. At that point, he turns and puts his head down. The catcher has one foot on either side of home plate, crouching in anticipation of the throw. Morgan had no idea the ball would be high and to the firstbase side of home plate. For all he knew, the throw would be accurate and the catcher would have the ball and as well be blocking home plate. The only way to score the run, in that scenario, is jarring the ball loose. Also, consider the game situation. It was the 10th inning of a tie baseball game. His run represented the go-ahead run.
You could have also mentioned Morgan’s ‘thrown glove incident’ after missing a catch off the top of the fence in center field. He claimed that he thought the ball had left the park. Being a former hockey player, I understand Morgans agression during competition. When he matures and learns to channel his agression in a positive light, i think he’ll be a much better player.
What Morgan did to the Cardinals’ catcher is irrelevant to his conduct/the conduct of the Marlins in their games. I agree that Morgan seems to have some anger management issues, but I don’t have a problem with what he did the other night. The real punk (or wuss depending on how you view him is Volstad). There was nothing dirty about him running over the catcher the night before. Having said that, I think he understood that the Marlins would retaliate by plunking him because he did so. Volstad plunks him with a big lead (which is the third batter he hit in the game without a warning after the events of the night before?0 and he trots down to first base. Morgan responded by then stealing 2nd and 3rd. I agree with Barry Larkin who commented on the MLB network after the game that if he gets plunked in that situation, darn right he is going to steal 2nd and 3rd regardless of the score in the game. Apparently, this further infuriated the Marlins and Volstad who then throws behind Morgan during this next at bat. Morgan understandably then charges the mound. Other than Volstad, the real clown is Wes Helms who was quoted afterwards as saying they had to “do something” because of the way Morgan was “treating us”. I guess Helms was referring to the fact that they had a problem with Morgan continuing to play the game hard regardless of the score. Methinks you ought to not get too comfortable if you bat against the Nats any more this season Helms.
Comment by bvillebaron — September 5, 2010 @ 1:52 pm
The physical talent combined with “non-smarts” is a very revealing comment. I’m sure the guy that said it can tell the “non-smarts’ thing simply by looking at the guy, especially noting the pigmentation. How else could he know if they are smart or not?
… hell, I’ll say it …. what has being smart got to do with playing baseball? Seriously.
I think the comments reveal what they reveal, but that’s something for the author to work out. It’s a personal issue. They need to examine their thoughts and how they look at certain groups of players.
Although, I’m not sure guessing Ty Cobb does anything to help the perception of Nyjer Morgan … actually, probably the opposite.
Comment by CircleChange11 — September 5, 2010 @ 10:29 pm
Whenever someone is stealing bases and talking s— while his team is down 11 runs, he is not doing from a “we gotta score this one run” perspective.
It’s actually very simple, he was either stealing bases to make a point to the Marlins or he was trying like hell to score that single run to close the gap to 10 runs.
Who are you to read a player’s mind? Get over yourself.
It doesn’t take a genius, just moderate experience. Both teams seemed to have a very good understanding of what was going on. Strange that none of the PLAYERS have commented on Morgan’s hustle and desire to score a run that would help his team get back into the game. But, again … what do players know?
Comment by CircleChange11 — September 5, 2010 @ 10:37 pm
Agreed, Will, and I think it’s disappointing that Alex’s article misleadingly says, “National 3rd base coach Pat Listach started punching Marlins just to even the odds.”
Listach didn’t throw any punches that I could see. All it looked like he was doing was trying to stop Volstad from engaging further in the brawl. I don’t blame Volstad either, but it’s a testament to Listach’s calm that he didn’t come close to trying to strike back.
If the comments are stating that I am a moron, I accept.
I made a lot of comments on facts that I had incorrect.
I corrected the sentiments further down in the thread, but I still deserve some heckling.
Comment by CircleChange11 — September 6, 2010 @ 2:22 pm
There seems to be some discussion about unwritten rules or code of conduct when a team is down by a lot of runs. This brings up the question of how many runs should a team be up or down by for these rules to “kick in”. At 8 runs up a team should stop scoring or trying to score? Maybe 9 runs? How about 11 runs like this game? When is it considered “piling it on”?