“I know he’s stealing bases out of his own doing, he’s trying to get back at us,” Marlins third baseman Wes Helms said. “We had to show him that we weren’t going to put up with the way he was treating us after last night but also trying to take the bases being [down] 10 runs. . . . He gets under everybody’s skin. Especially mine.”
That’s right, the Nationals were down by 10 runs and Morgan was still trying to score runs. Everyone knows that this violates sacred baseball rule 12(b); when a game gets to a certain (undefined) level of out-of-handedness, both teams must stop trying to score runs and get the game over with as soon as possible. Nevermind that the Marlins weren’t holding Morgan on, so he could easily take those bases, or that he wound up scoring on a sacrifice fly, no, none of that matters. Morgan refused to stop trying to win the game, and for that he had to have a message sent to him.
Look, I don’t want it to come off like I’m defending Morgan, but this is totally ridiculous. It’s bad enough that we expect teams that are winning by large margins to stop playing, it’s absolutely absurd to expect the same of teams that are losing. Aside from the fact that it goes against the basic ethos of competition, it’s completely out of line with the game of baseball in particular. After all, baseball doesn’t have a clock governing length of play, you have to record 27 outs to put the other team away. Whereas in football there comes a point where the time on the clock makes it impossible to mount a comeback, that’s never the case in baseball. Unlikely as it may be, you can score any number of runs at any point, even down to your last out. So there’s simply no reason to expect any team to stop trying to win, let alone in the 5th inning. It’s even dumber to have a culture that encourages hurling a pitch at someone because half-way through the game they haven’t stopped trying to win.
As I said before, baseball really needs to put a stop to this. It’s one thing to use the beanball to “protect” your players, it’s another to use it to enforce an arbitrary and stupid set of social norms within the game. Even more so when you have a major league baseball player openly saying is team threw at a player because he had the audacity to not meet the expectation that he stop trying to win the game. Nyjer Morgan deserves to be suspended for the rest of the season. The guy has been awful this year, is almost certainly going to be non-tendered by the Nationals, and will probably have to sign a minor league deal if he wants to stay in baseball next year. For some reason, he’s decided to take his last month or so in the big leagues to go completely postal. Tuesday night’s play at the plate aside, the guy is totally out of control, and is showing total disregard for everyone else at the park, players and fans alike. The commissioner’s office should drop the hammer on him and, frankly, the union should probably support the action. After all, those other players on the field are union members too, and if Morgan has decided he likes running over catchers for the hell of it, the union should obviously take their interests to heart as well as Morgan’s.
But it’s also time for baseball to put a stop to this stupid culture of machismo and “unwritten rules,” and there’s no better time to do it than now. After all, the Marlins have already admitted Morgan was thrown at for his baserunning exploits, so there’s no ambiguity at all here. The commissioner’s office should issue a firm statement that, in light of Helms’ statement, both Volstad and Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez are eating lengthy suspensions and hefty fines and, again, the union should support it. All those players getting thrown at because they didn’t run around the bases fast enough for a pitcher’s liking after a home run or showed a little too much emotion at some point are union members, and the union should be looking out for their safety. I know the players are generally knee-deep in this culture, so the union probably doesn’t want to rock the boat too much if their members don’t generally support the idea, but it would serve the MLBPA’s legacy well to be forward-thinking here.