It's been three weeks since baseball had its last
bench-clearing brawl, a dry spell Washington Nationals center fielder
Nyjer Morgan put a stop to Wednesday night when he wildly charged
Florida Marlins pitcher Chris Volstad for throwing behind him in the
6th inning. Morgan entered the game a beanball target after appearing to engineer a violent homeplate collision at the
end of Tuesday's game that left Marlins catcher Brett Hayes with a
separated shoulder (he was also accused of doing the same thing last
week against St. Louis.) Volstad had actually already hit Morgan in the
fourth inning, but the lesson in baseball protocol didn't
register--Morgan proceeded to steal 2nd and 3rd base, despite his team
being down 14-3. Hence, the throw behind.
As for what happened next, we'd really just advise you to click the video. There's something about a man being tackled by the windpipe that can only be processed visually.
- Uncorked Writing on his
blog after the game, Nationals play-by-play announcer Phil Wood says Morgan's newfound
combustible streak is unnerving to behold.
I won't pretend to know what's happening with Nyjer Morgan this past week. His on-field behavior, at times, has bordered on the bizarre, and he's the only one who knows why.
Running into Florida catcher Brett Hayes last night - and getting tagged out - was a play that bore a strong resemblance to Pete Rose bowling over Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 1970 All-Star Game. ...
Tonight, once Morgan was hit by Chris Volstad's pitch in the 4th inning, the situation should have been over with. Morgan's aggressiveness in stealing second and third was - apparently - seen as rubbing the Marlins' noses in it. Volstad's decision to throw behind Nyjer in the 6th inning was ill-advised; no one should have been surprised Morgan charged the mound and the benches emptied.
- Sideshow Last year in DC, the eccentric Morgan seemed well on his way to becoming a baseball cult hero. "What the heck is going on, Nyjer?" asks an exasperated Dave Brown of Yahoo. Last night's scrum, Brown notes, looked less like a baseball scrum and more "like something straight out of Mortal Kombat."
- Float Like A Butterfly, Hit Like A Bee Palm Beach Post baseball writer Joe Capozzi was more outraged by what transpired after the fight. "For me," writes Capozzi, "the most lasting image from tonight's bench-clearing brawl was Morgan -- after being ejected for rushing the mound to confront Chris Volstad -- walking off the field and raising his arms like a boxer after a fight. If Morgan was declaring victory, he'd better review his past two weeks." Capozzi provides a rundown:
On Aug. 21, he threw a ball into the stands in Philadelphia and hit a fan in the head. He was suspended 7 games but has appealed.
On Saturday, he plowed into Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson -- a move that resulted in Washington manager Jim Riggleman benching Morgan the next day.
On Tuesday, he plowed into Marlins catcher Brett Hayes, who was diagnosed with a separated left shoulder. When Morgan went back onto the field after his collision with Hayes, he was seen taunting a Marlins fan.
- Predictable Nats Insider's Mark Zuckerman says what happened last night in Miami is the kind of ugly incident careers don't recover from. "This will be the lasting image around baseball of Nyjer Morgan," writes Zuckerman. "Disheveled, disruptive, disdainful." What's worse, Zuckerman contends, is that "everyone could see it coming from miles away." Morgan is too volatile to let play baseball right now. "The best thing Morgan can do right now...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"