I am a Cardinal fan at heart. I love my team. When someone does something obviously wrong and overly aggressive against one of the team members wearing the Birds on the Bat, you can bet I get fired up.
This past week, during a game with the Washington Nationals, Nyjer Morgan gave an aggressive shove to Bryan Anderson as he crossed the plate. Anderson was standing a step in front of the plate, without the ball, and not blocking it at all. I was livid and wanted Morgan's head on a platter.
Later in the week, Morgan would connect with a catcher in a game against the Florida Marlins. This time, the catcher, Brett Hayes, had the ball and was blocking the plate. In a hard nosed play, Morgan lowered his shoulder and knocked Hayes in a massive collision that would separate the catcher's left shoulder and end his season.
When I heard of the incident, I was immediately upset. I started rambling about how Morgan was going to cause issues across the league and had to be stopped. When I arrived at home and watched the replay I quickly changed my mind. This was a hard nosed, old school, baseball play.
The next game the Marlins played to the crowd and addressed the situation the way most Major League teams would - they hit Morgan with a pitch in the fourth inning. The Marlins, who were up by 11 runs, felt they had handled the issue sufficiently. The umpires warned both benches, Morgan quietly took his place at first base, and play resumed.
Morgan, obviously upset, felt it best to take his aggression out through his abilities on the field. He immediately stole second base. This is another old school move that many players of yesterday would do after being hit by a pitch to prove that they were not hurt. Message sent and received. Then Morgan stole third. This was more than a player stating that he was not hurt. This was a player saying, "I am going to make you pay". He would later score.
Now, somewhere in the Florida dugout, the players decided that the issue was not over with. In the sixth, when Morgan came back to the plate, he was hit again. Enough was enough and Morgan charged the mound, setting off one of the largest base-brawls in recent memory. The scene would end with Morgan leaving the field, yelling at the crowd, and looking like he was at a tryout for professional wrestling.
Morgan has been suspended for this and many other issues over the last few weeks. The league has dealt with him in what they feel was an appropriate manner and I agree. But this column is seldom interesting if all I do is agree, now is it?
What do I disagree with? The Florida Marlins over reacted and put themselves in a position for this to happen, not to mention put Morgan in a position to retaliate.
Yeah, I said it, the Marlins were not held accountable for their actions. Sure, there were suspensions. Seriously, though, this team needs to reevaluate their feeling of what they do and what stresses them out.
You are baseball players. You are competitive by nature and hard working, I get that. One of your players was severely hurt in an incident you did not agree with. I get that too.
All things considered, Hayes was hurt on a play that was very clean by most standards. If you disagree, you hit him the next time it is possible. You did that. He stole two bases while down by eleven and you decided to hit him again. I get....wait....no, I do not get that. He closed the lead from eleven to ten by aggressive play after being hit by a pitch. Where in the unwritten codes of baseball do you feel this went wrong? Are you just ticked off that the player you now hate can still run the bases and is sticking it to you? Tough. Hitting him a second time was basically sending the message that the first time was not enough because he did not charge the mound. The first time was excusable and part of the game. The second time was irresponsible and borderline childish.
Nyjer Morgan has done a lot of things wrong and deserves what baseball does with him. His reaction to the Marlins was simply that of a player who had enough and was not going to stand there and allow someone to hurt him simply because they were upset at his aggressive play.
Keep knocking catchers down, Mr. Morgan, I miss a player that feels he should play as hard as possible within the rules and welcome your aggressive nature.
Bill Ivie is the editor for i70baseball.com and hosts i70baseball radio every Monday night on BlogTalkRadio.com.