Nationals Baseball: Acts of Desperation

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Acts of Desperation

Nyjer Morgan had a choice. He knew, justified or not, that he was building up a reputation as a "dirty" player. He knew that his next actions in a tricky situation could very well seal the deal on how other teams, and his own, viewed him. Was he a high-spirited fellow who made one bad move (the St. Louis collision) but whose other actions were blown out of proportion? Was he a loose cannon?

Nyjer knew that the Marlins were upset with his catcher take-out in the previous game. He knew they would probably throw at him. He had hours to think of what he would do.

This was what he came up with.

I don't know the man, obviously, but Morgan hadn't struck me as a "bad guy" over the course of a year of baseball. I hadn't heard anything like that when he came over from Pittsburgh either. So why would he act like that? All that I can come up with is:

.257 / .317 /.318

After being declared the Nats centerfielder for life (life = 3 years or so), he's having such a terrible year that he's probably lost the job already. Years of toil in the minors to get to this point and he crashed and burned. The frustration boils up, first at being labeled a bad ballplayer, which he hasn't been, then for being labeled a bad guy, which he hasn't been. Sometime recently one straw too many was placed on his back and this is the result. He is out of control.

Or he could just be an ass. I don't know.

Either way, it's gotten to endgame. Tony Plush's career with the Nationals should end. I know it may seem like I don't believe in Roger Bernadina, but given the circumstances (and age and statistics) I don't see how anyone can be in the Morgan camp anymore. He had a chance, failed, and then blew up spectacularly. You don't wait for that to happen again.

As for Dibble's firing - I like Mike's take over at NatsFanboyLooser. Dibble's problem is that he equates experience with understanding. He played the game to level X and anyone that didn't reach the same level doesn't understand the game as well as he does. Because of this belief he didn't respect anyone's opinion on the game; not reporters, not bloggers, not fans, not umpires, or not even less "credentialed" players. I do believe he was honest when he said he didn't care if you listened to his opinion. But I also believe that he was incredibly offended if you dared think your opinion was better than his.

Of course in the end, none of that did him in. Instead it was an quasi-sexist remarked followed quickly by something that could be interpreted as an insult to the most important National player in their brief history. Neither remarks were terrible, and with more explanation they might have even been understandable, but MASN didn't want to wait to see how Dibble would screw up again.


Hoo said...

The Fire marshals have shut down the anti-Morgan bandwagon due to overcrowding.

This painful to watch b/c it feels like you're watching a personal meltdown live and in slow motion. This week has been just a trainwreck for T Plush.

Harper said...

He was not prepared to go from beloved to hated in a half-season. While you've gotta fault Morgan mostly, FJB and Nats Triple Play have it right though - this is an area where you CAN blame the manager for not doing his job.

Maybe that's why Dukes is gone. Not because the attitude was bad, but because Riggleman wouldn't be able to deal with him like Acta might have.

bdrube said...

Great point about Riggleman. I've soured on him as this season has worn on and this is just icing on the cake. He could have diffused the situation by benching Morgan and starting Maxwell yesterday. The kid needs the at bats anyway if he is ever going to figure out major league pitching. Why Riggs was able to make the right call on Sunday and not yesterday is as big a mystery as his continuing to start Willie Harris over Morse in the outfield before Willingham got hurt.

If Espinosa and Ramos don't receive a healthy number of at bats this September, Riggs should follow Morgan out the door.

Harper said...

If those guys aren't playing it's a failure of the GM not Riggs. He's got to be following their orders on playing these guys don't you think?

Hoo said...

I kinda agree with Riggs on when to play vs contending teams. But fans would really, really prefer to see the young'uns as compared to Nieves, Kennedy and Pudge. I'd rather Michael Burgess than Maxwell or Harris to boot!

Riggs on playing the young'uns:

Our fans come out and support us tremendously," Riggleman said. "I know they like seeing Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman. To give them days off to play guys who have been playing in Double-A or Triple-A, that's not why they bought the ticket that day possibly."

Riggleman also has spoken about preserving the integrity of the game by not inserting unproven minor leaguers into his lineup when the Nationals are playing a postseason contender. T
"It's fine line to walk," Riggleman said. "I do want to see the younger players play, but more often than not, it would probably be in situations where I feel like for whatever reason that's my best lineup today that I can put out there and it's against maybe team who's also not in contention."

Harper said...

I think he makes two good points...that don't apply to the Nationals. There are no young guns waiting to take the spots of Dunn and Zimmerman so why would they sit? And one could easily argue that starting the young guys over the vets (Maxwell v Morgan, Espinosa v Kennedy, Ramos v Pudge/Nieves) actually improves the team's chances of winning.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7 said...

Two points. Nyjer took his "punishment" without complaint. From that point, he and the NATS were trying to come back and win the game (10-1 to 10-5 and within a base hit to make it 10-8 at one point). Nyjer stole two bases in trying to achieve the team goal. The fish had no right to be upset with Nyjer for doing his job. So when he was thrown at again "It was time to go."

On Riggleman's playing call-ups, He stated today that both Ramos and Espinosa will get their starts and at bats in September. I, for one, will a few weeks before I make either one a perm. starter. The lineup last night scored 10 runs which would have been great except for soon to be done and gone Olsen. So give the man a break. Also, in my opinion, at the first game next Friday, both benches should be warned to put an end to this foolishness.

Bryan said...

I didn't see the collision, so I start off this comment with that acknowledgment.

However, I've never understood all the unwritten rules in baseball. You can't steal bases when you are behind early in the game? Really? Why not just make it a rule that you can't make contact with the ball if you are down 10 runs past the 5th inning? If you want a losing team to quit so that you can get the game over with, why not just institute a mercy rule.

I can kinda see being upset if a team up 10 runs is still stealing bases, especially if its a far superior team beating up a weaker one. But my general attitude is still "stop them, then."

In other words, I don't see how the Fish can be upset that Morgan stole the base. Charging the mound is the wrong way to go, regardless, but its silly that it came to that at all.

Harper said...

I think the Marlins issues with the stolen bases has to do with the idea of punishment. The Marlins wanted contrition. Stealing 2nd and 3rd after getting hit in retribution is like sending a kid to the corner and watch him whip out a portable video game system.

Now don't get me wrong I'm all for this - retribution by HBP is stupid and should be punished by stolen bases and runs, but Morgan then should have kept doing it.

Donald said...

Part of the unwritten rule is that if you are up by 9 runs, you don't keep piling on. But if the team in the lead is supposed to take it easy, then I think the expectation is for the team behind to basically concede. I don't agree with it, but I think that's part of it.

Bryan said...

Harper - the punishment isn't being sent to first, though; the punishment is being hit by a baseball.

Mission accomplished.

If your punishment is to send your kid to the couch to watch TV, you can't be upset when he enjoys what he watches.

Hoo said...

Zim basically called the Marlins a bunch of wusses for waiting till they had a huge lead to hit Morgan. I think Zim's right that if the Marlins do it in the first, it doesn't become as big of deal.

But the Marlins position is pretty untenable. "We'll retaliate only when we have a big lead and then you have to roll over and play dead."

Volstad was gone after the pitch behind Morgan. Nyjer should have kept his cool but that ship has long since sailed. And don't give me the "HE's an aggressive player/hockey background" crap.

Harper said...

donald - I think that the losing team isn't supposed to concede but because they need sooo many runs to come back (meaning a lot of XBHs and no foolish outs) that stealing bases ceases to be viewed as a way to get them back into the game and more as just showing off.

Bryan - We're reading between the lines of something unwritten here but I think the idea is "we'll accept that you will get on first and possibly score in order to punish you. That's what we consider even" By stealing 2nd and 3rd (even though they have a chance to get him out) he's seeking to mess up the "even-ness" of it. This is all silly - like I said I don't agree with it - but I'm pretty sure this is where they are coming from.

In the end though the issue for me wasn't the Marlins being stupid and keep trying to hit Nyjer. It was Nyjer being stupid and charging the mound. You want them to stop hitting you? Keep scoring when they put you on.

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