September 02, 2010

Nyjer Morgan Ignites Nationals-Marlins Brawl: After a message pitch went behind his back, Washington Nationals center fielder Nyjer Morgan charged Florida Marlins pitcher Chris Volstad Wednesday night and was clotheslined by first baseman Gaby Sanchez after landing a punch, sparking a benches-clearing brawl between the teams. Morgan had been hit by another Volstad pitch two innings earlier after separating the shoulder of Marlins catcher Brett Hayes in a collision during the previous game. "It was a hard play, and I understand there are going to be some bad feelings," Morgan said. "You've got to get me back. They hit me the first time, and I let it go. But when they throw at me again, I've got to go."

posted by rcade to baseball at 10:05 AM - 27 comments

Gotta side with Morgan, he's just playing hard, and he took it like a man the first time.

posted by mjkredliner at 10:45 AM on September 02

The Marlins announcers were all over Morgan, but I don't see him doing anything exceptional in the mound charge or the brawl. He does look like a chump throwing his arms up on the way to the dugout, but that's after his testosterone was turned up to 11.

posted by rcade at 11:01 AM on September 02

Agreed, and the Marlins announcing team is full of shit.

You hit Morgan a couple innings earlier to square the plate collision from the day before, and he steals second and third in a game where his team's down by 10. You think that's an offense? That rule only applies when your up by a bunch as far as I'm concerned, and even then its pretty ridiculous.

The Nats apparently didn't roll over and quit because the cut the lead by four runs before the night was over. What's Morgan supposed to do -- stand there with his thumb up his ass on first base?

Volstad obviously wasn't trying to hit Morgan, but he was sending a message. Guess what? Message rejected, and Morgan came out to dot your eye for you so you don't send it again.

Also, I'm betting Pat Listach (God, was he fun to watch run the bases) gets a suspension for jumping on Volstad.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:06 AM on September 02

If there's all these stupid "rules" about how teams should act when they're down by a certain amount of runs, basically meaning teams are supposed to quit and roll over the remainder of the game, shouldn't the Marlins (in this case) organization refund a portion of the money of those in attendance? Seems fair. The Marlins are full of shit. They don't like Morgan, and beyond that, if you don't want him stealing, throw him out! Ridiculous.

posted by dyams at 11:10 AM on September 02

If the Marlins felt that Morgan shouldn't steal the bases when his team is down by twelve runs, then they should also agree not to swing at any pitches when they come up to bat in their half of the inning.

All of those "unwritten rules" about what to do when the score is out of hand are bullshit. This is major league baseball, not little league. Unless there is a mercy rule, everyone should play the game as hard as they want.

And as we've seen in the past week, BIG leads can disappear VERY fast.

posted by grum@work at 11:34 AM on September 02

Any pitcher who deliberately throws at a hitter should be suspended.

Any pitcher who deliberately throws at a hitter then turtles and lets a gang of teammates fight his battle is better off in women's synchronized swimming ... which the announcers on that play probably understand better than baseball anyways.

posted by cixelsyd at 11:41 AM on September 02

I don't see Volstad turtle in that video. He was swinging away until Pat Listach jumped on him.

posted by rcade at 11:45 AM on September 02

grum@work: If the Marlins felt that Morgan shouldn't steal the bases when his team is down by twelve runs, then they should also agree not to swing at any pitches when they come up to bat in their half of the inning.

All of those "unwritten rules" about what to do when the score is out of hand are bullshit. This is major league baseball, not little league. Unless there is a mercy rule, everyone should play the game as hard as they want.

And as we've seen in the past week, BIG leads can disappear VERY fast.

Quote for truth!!!

When I was watching the brawl recap on MLB Network (sorry! I was channel surfing) Harold Reynolds was going on about the unwritten rule of not stealing a base when you're down a bunch of runs. This is not only incredible stupid on principle- as grum notes, the "rule" applies to the team up by 12 runs- the idiocy of the "rule" itself it was undermined when a half minute later a live update from the still-in-progress game showed the score had become 15-10 in the top of the 7th... making the game a potentially very winnable 5 run deficit!

Still, my view of Morgan was that he was playing a bit off; on the plate collision the night before, he should have slid not just to avoid a football-esque hit, but because it would have let him score under a tag in a 0-0 game in extra innings- he didn't need a hard hit and it cost his team a critical run. Those slides in the blowout game were a bit much (but, being headfirst and not spikes first, it's hard to say he was being at all malicious). His parading around after the brawl was way too testosterone filled- that little act might cast a light backwards over his past actions, perhaps unjustly, to make it seem he was playing way rougher than he needed to the whole series... and that might net him a suspension.

Me, I think outside of the homeplate slide he was playing very hard but not uncleanly. Hard head first slides are okay, he was trying to score runs (and as someone less stupid than Harold Reynolds noted, "If you hit me, me stealing two bags is the best revenge") in what would prove to be a game where scoring or preventing runs could have made a difference.

posted by hincandenza at 01:04 PM on September 02

Still, my view of Morgan was that he was playing a bit off; on the plate collision the night before, he should have slid not just to avoid a football-esque hit, but because it would have let him score under a tag in a 0-0 game in extra innings- he didn't need a hard hit and it cost his team a critical run.

Of course, if Morgan DID slide into the Marlins catcher's legs, there is a good chance he might have injured him that way (see previous runner/catcher collisions this year resulting in injured catchers). At that point, those looking to demonize Morgan would have said THAT was a dirty play.

posted by grum@work at 01:35 PM on September 02

That rule only applies when your up by a bunch as far as I'm concerned, and even then its pretty ridiculous.

If I'm down a bunch and getting bases stolen behind me I'm hitting somebody. I'll probably bark before I bite but if you want that 10th or 11th run so badly I'll let you earn it with bruises.

Of course, I'm probably closer to little league than MLB and the game situation and the other team's demeanor is going to play a big part too.

posted by tron7 at 02:14 PM on September 02

As an aside, I absolutely detest mlb.com. I can never view their stupid videos AND they always block them on other sites.

Hate hate hate hate hate.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:33 PM on September 02

Stealing when you're up 10 runs is unsportsmanlike, but not when you're down 10. Stealing when you're down 10 is a poor strategy -- it's a risk to steal a base when a lone run isn't going to do you any good; you need all the baserunners you can get, so risking them isn't wise -- but it's not poor sportsmanship by any means.

So I'll side with the majority here and tell the Marlins to stuff it.

posted by TheQatarian at 03:01 PM on September 02

Sorry, but I just do not understand all the apparent defense of Morgan. Looking at the video of the collision with Hayes from the game before, it looks like he was intentionally trying to run the catcher over and did not care if he scored or not. Not the first time Morgan has seemed more intent on knocking out (or even injurying) the catcher as opposed to scoring.

As for what happened before the fight, Volstad's pitch probably clearly had a message. But (1) he was not throwing at his head or intending to injure, (2) he did not hit him, and (3) from watching the video, I am not sure that the Marlins catcher had any idea the behind the back pitch was coming given the way he set up and the delay he had in reaching for the ball.

Finally, as to a situation where a team wants to "get even" with another player for injuring (perhaps intentionally, perhaps not, but clearly recklessly) one of their players, the only real ways you can do this is going in spikes up if they are an infielder or hitting them with a pitch. Morgan plays outfield, so only revenge is hitting with a pitch. Not saying it's right, but certainly understand how team might have felt after the prior night collision.

posted by graymatters at 03:19 PM on September 02

so only revenge is hitting with a pitch

Morgan acknowledges that when he says "You've got to get me back." He made it clear that he was willing to take his medicine. It was the second instance of throwing at/behind him that he felt compelled him to charge the mound. The Marlins got their revenge by hitting him, then pissed and moaned when he threw it in their face by stealing two bases. I think people are saying that the Marlins needed to suck it up and move on.

posted by tahoemoj at 03:38 PM on September 02

it looks like he was intentionally trying to run the catcher over and did not care if he scored or not.

That's the point. Morgan was charging towards home plate. Until right at the end, it looked like the ball would reach the plate before him (which it did), so he had to assume the catcher was going to block the plate and tag him. The only responses available to the runner are: 1) get tagged out as you weakly try to dodge the catcher (and the plate) 2) plow into the catcher to try and knock the ball loose

Now, the only problem with option 2 is that usually the catcher is in a position to receive the hit. In this case, the throw to the catch was high, and he had to stand up and reach for it. That left him in a vulnerable position. Morgan was already committed to the collision.

Like I said before, if he had a chance to change his mind, and slid hard into the catcher's legs, he would have probably done as much/more damage to the catcher, and would have been called a villain then.

There really wasn't much Morgan could do with the catcher standing RIGHT ON THE PLATE.

Side note: Morgan used to play junior hockey, so he definitely has no problem with physical contact.

Finally, as to a situation where a team wants to "get even" with another player for injuring (perhaps intentionally, perhaps not, but clearly recklessly) one of their players, the only real ways you can do this is going in spikes up if they are an infielder or hitting them with a pitch. Morgan plays outfield, so only revenge is hitting with a pitch. Not saying it's right, but certainly understand how team might have felt after the prior night collision.

You don't "get even" twice. The first plunking was acceptable (as Morgan attests). The second one was going over the line.

posted by grum@work at 05:02 PM on September 02

I'm with graymatters...I don't understand the defense. Who charges the mound when you get thrown BEHIND?!?!

If he hit him, that's one thing..but he threw behind him. Whether the message-pitch was right or wrong, it was done in the right way (without hitting him, but letting him know they didn't approve). Charging in that instance is ridiculous and he deserved the beat-down he got at the bottom of the pile and the multi-week suspension he's likely to get (being that he's already on suspension when this happened).

posted by bdaddy at 06:04 PM on September 02

If he hit him, that's one thing..but he threw behind him.

He had already been hit previously in the fourth, took it like a man, and proceeded to swipe two bags. Then they threw behind him in the seventh, comfortably up 14-3.

And I've seen plenty of guys charge the mound after being thrown behind. When I played ball and pitched, a few coaches said that if you really want to hit a guy, you should throw just behind them around the hip/mid-back because a batter's instinct is to move away from the plate - which would be into the path of the ball.

Morgan went a bit nuts, but I don't see the validity behind suggesting that there was something unusual about Morgan charging the mound.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:55 PM on September 02

Who charges the mound when you get thrown BEHIND?

As Weedy said, lots of players do. If they think the intent of a pitch was to hit them, they react accordingly.

posted by rcade at 07:16 PM on September 02

As an aside, I absolutely detest mlb.com. I can never view their stupid videos AND they always block them on other sites.

Hate hate hate hate hate.

Don't hold back LBB. Tell us how you really feel.

posted by BornIcon at 07:57 AM on September 03

If they think the intent of a pitch was to hit them, they react accordingly.

That's the thing...it was obvious the intent WASN'T to hit him...it was several yards behind him. These guys are smart enough to know that a MLB pitcher, if he wants to hit you, can hit you. If he can put a ball in a 2x2 strikezone consistently, he can hit a 6 foot, 200lb man. Now hitting him in the HEAD might be difficult, but plunking him in the back is something even a kid can do.

He HIT him the first time as payback for the catcher collision.

He THREW BEHIND him the 2nd time as payback for stealing

Both were message pitches. Whether you agree with the 2nd message pitch or not, he did it the right way by not hitting him but letting him know they were not pleased, but didn't feel it was as severe as the previous warning (which is why it called for a throw-behind and not a beaning).

posted by bdaddy at 12:25 PM on September 03

..it was several yards between 4 to 6 inches behind him.

Fixed that for you.

posted by tommytrump at 12:49 PM on September 03

He THREW BEHIND him the 2nd time as payback for stealing

I'm sorry, why does stealing a base when trailing by 12 runs require a payback? I'll point out that he scored on a 1-out sac fly after stealing 3rd base. That gave his team a run, which helps his team try to tie the game. If that had been David Eckstein or some other "media/fan approved" player, he would have been praised for his "hustle".

posted by grum@work at 01:00 PM on September 03

grum@work: Of course, if Morgan DID slide into the Marlins catcher's legs, there is a good chance he might have injured him that way (see previous runner/catcher collisions this year resulting in injured catchers). At that point, those looking to demonize Morgan would have said THAT was a dirty play
We mostly agree on this whole foofarrah (as with many things baseball) but on this my point was that in a 0-0 game, there should have been a teammate near home plate giving him the slide signal who could see the throw was coming high and the catcher was likely not making a low tag. If that teammate wasn't there, then shame on the Nationals for not having someone there; if they were, I can't understand Morgan not sliding. Because he didn't slide, they didn't score the run that would have made it 1-0 in the top of the 10th; instead they ended up losing 1-0 in the bottom of the inning.

My point is that no one would hold it against him if the catcher got injured while Morgan was sliding in a play like that, or for trying to knock over the catcher if the catcher was already squatting on and blocking the plate. Both are legitimate attempts to score, and the catcher takes a risk blocking the plate since they are now fair game for a hard slide. In a Red Sox game at the beginning of August, the Sox' terrible third base coach sent runner Ryan Kalish ill-advisedly, who then had to make a hard slide into the catcher blocking the plate. This broke promising prospect Carlos Santana's leg. While even the Red Sox fans at Sons of Sam Horn lambasted the third base coach in real time for an unnecessary risk and causing the injury by essentially forcing a collision... absolutely no one said Kalish' slide was malicious or poor decision. Had Morgan made a similar hard slide in a 0-0 extra inning game into a catch blocking the plate, and that catcher was injured, the voices would have been unanimous that Morgan was not to blame, that it's a risk the catcher takes blocking the plate and a hard slide is called for in that scenario.

It's the stand-up collision that makes no sense; the catcher was standing and never did get down for a tag, so why didn't Morgan slide? I think he put it in his head he was going to have a collision, and when he got their early enough to slide and score, he didn't adapt (and apparently a teammate wasn't there giving him the 'slide' hands or he was ignoring them). I still don't say it was malicious, as in Morgan was trying to cause injury, but it was an unnecessarily rough play, a "flagrant foul" if you will.

All that said, I think he got scapegoated here, and the 8-day suspension is not just in my opinion; charging the mound usually gets a lesser suspension of 3-5 days I believe (unless you're a Red Sox player and "Yankee" Bob Watson gives you a longer suspension).

posted by hincandenza at 02:49 PM on September 03

I'm sorry, why does stealing a base when trailing by 12 runs require a payback?

I'm not arguing that point...note I said that "agree or not on the 2nd message pitch", as I think it's debatable whether it should have been sent or not. My point was strictly on the retaliation of a behind the back pitch with charging the mound. Even if it was WRONG to make the message pitch..he didn't bean the guy, and charging the mound in that case was ridiculous.

4 to 6 inches behind him

It's a foot at least. I may have went into male penis mode by exaggerating it to several yards, but it's certainly not close to hitting him...the catcher couldn't even reach it.

posted by bdaddy at 03:05 PM on September 03

This broke promising prospect Carlos Santana's leg. While even the Red Sox fans at Sons of Sam Horn lambasted the third base coach in real time for an unnecessary risk and causing the injury by essentially forcing a collision... absolutely no one said Kalish' slide was malicious or poor decision.

Of course no one from SSH said anything bad about Kalish's slide. That's like visiting a Yankee fan site and looking for negative things about Jeter.

Here is what one negative example I found with some quick searches:

No, Kalish did not do the right thing. He basically tried to snap Santana's leg in half by sliding through Santana's leg to the plate -- as if Santana wasn't there -- rather than trying to go around the tag. Kalish shouldn't be trying to commit assault and battery on the catcher, any more than a pitcher should throw at a hitter on purpose. I don't care how Kalish was taught.

Kalish knew that by making contact with Santana's leg like that Santana ran the risk of suffering serious injury.

It's wrong, and the silliness ought to stop. And people shouldn't defend players who engage in this kind of nonsense.

posted by grum@work at 06:00 PM on September 03

A late reply, but geez grum- your own link proves the point! That guy was about the only commenter who felt that way; just about everyone else in that link firmly disagreed.

posted by hincandenza at 04:08 PM on September 04

That guy was about the only commenter who felt that way; just about everyone else in that link firmly disagreed.

Well, yes. Most of them were also Boston fans.

However, Kalish is considered a "good boy".

If it had been Nyjer(k) Morgan, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle, Dick Allen, Judas or Greg Maddux, then people would have flipped sides and said he was trying to deliberately injure the catcher.

posted by grum@work at 09:50 PM on September 04

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