Thursday, September 2, 2010

Baseball Needs To Start Writing Down Its "Unwritten" Rules...With Explanations

Last night I was half paying attention to SportsCenter when they showed a clip of a batter from the Washington Nationals rushing the mound after a pitcher from the Florida Marlins threw a pitch behind him. The batter was a lot shorter than the pitcher but he jumped up and connected with a left hook right before he was swarmed by the first baseman of the Marlins. I heard an explanation about him stealing bases when the score was about 15-3 or something like that. I assumed that he was on the team that already had 15 runs and was showing up the Marlins, hence the pitch thrown behind him.

No biggie right?

Then today I was of course watching SportsCenter again and I heard the full explanation of what happened according to them. So the Washington Nationals player was Nyjer Morgan. And it turns out he had been hit by a pitch in the 4th inning when HIS team was down by over 10 runs. Now evidently there was already bad blood there because Morgan had run over the Marlins catcher on a play at the plate in a previous game and knocked him out for the year with a shoulder injury.

Now remember this was still the early part of the game, the 4th inning, when he stole the bases. But according to the "experts" on ESPN Morgan broke another one of Major League Baseball's unwritten rules by stealing. I literally had to hit rewind to make sure I heard that right.

The guy said with a straight face that basically a team that is down by that much should just give up and go home. When did that become what baseball is all about?

Mind you because Morgan stole two bases he was then in position to score and did score when a teammate hit the ball to the outfield. And mind you it turns out the Nationals eventually scored 10 runs even though they still fell short of the win. But this just doesn't make any sense on any level to me.

Can you imagine that same mentality playing out in any other sport? Hell nowadays I hear more about players loafing in baseball than I can ever remember but now because a guy actually hustles he's in the wrong? And what message is that sending to kids playing the sport?

Also it seems that Morgan was wrong for rushing the mound after he had already been hit by a pitch and the pitcher threw the ball behind him on his subsequent at bat.


Maybe its just that people don't like Morgan. And I understand that he has had some other situations in the past to make people be wary of his antics. But if its true that he was in the wrong in this situation then MLB should be ashamed of itself.

One guy on SportsCenter even went as far as to say Morgan was wrong for running over the catcher ON A PLAY AT THE PLATE!!! But hasn't Pete Rose been lionized for running over a catcher in a meaningless All Star game???

I have to be missing something here.

Here in Tampa, the Rays have a very talented player by the name of B.J. Upton who has gotten into trouble several times for loafing, either when out in the outfield or when not running out a base hit. Hell most fans would LOVE to see the kind of hustle from him that Morgan has shown. And the truth is he would probably be held in much higher regard if he went that hard.

But now people are saying Morgan is wrong for busting his ass?

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the worlds biggest baseball fan anymore but I am just not buying that Morgan was wrong here. And like I said before, if he IS wrong then that says more about Major League Baseball than it does him.

I'd love to hear what you have to say on it though. Maybe I've got it all wrong. But I don't see how that's possible.


  1. Had Morgan slid into home rather than colliding (read: stand up body check)with the Marlins catcher not only would the catcher not be injured, but Morgan would have easily been safe and given his team their first run and the lead in the 10th inning of a 0-0 game. the bottom of that same inning Hanley Ramirez could have collided with the catcher at the plate but instead slid under his tag to win the game for his team. It was a selfish, jerk move by Morgan.

    The next game, I have no problem with stealing bases when you're down. How else are you going to come back!?

    About the right or wrong of charging the mound, he wouldn't have done it if he hadn't been pitched behind and Volstad, in pitching behind him, was aware of the possible consequences. Was either one right? Some say yes, others no. I don't care.

  2. For a while, I thought I was the only way that felt that way too. On baseball tonight, they were killing Morgan for the whole thing. When you are down that many runs, you should do everything you can to score runs. I would have every base runner steal. How would we like it if the Bucs were down 4 TD's and just ran the ball up the middle every play. In baseball, there is no time limit, so no lead is insurmountable. If I'm Morgan and they throw at me on consecutive at bats, I'm going up to the mound with my bat and hitting that pitcher right in his throwing elbow. The whole situation reminds me of why I stopped watching baseball years ago.

  3. @J.Martin

    Now I played baseball all the way from elementary school through my Senior year of high school and I was pretty good at it. So I know baseball even though I don't watch it anymore. You're going to have to explain to me how its possible that a guy who was out after a huge collision at the plate with the catcher would have "easily" been safe had he instead slid. I mean I've seen the play and I don't see how anybody can say sliding would have changed the outcome with any degree of certainty. And the truth is there was a time not long ago when a little guy like Morgan going into home plate full speed like that would actually be celebrated rather than called a "jerk" move. But I guess times have changed.

  4. It wasn't a forced play at home and the catcher was standing perfectly upright. It looked close enough to me that if the catcher needed to actually bring the ball down to meet Morgan he would have been too late and Morgan would have scored the run. "Easily" may have been an overstatement but I think his chances were excellent had he slid. I grant, though, that given the speed Morgan had the chances that the catcher dropped the ball upon collision were also high, but I don't think they were as high. I said "jerk move" because it seemed like sliding was the most obvious and viable option but instead he chose to hit the guy as hard as he could. In my mind the at-the-plate collisions need to take place when the catcher is actually blocking the plate, not when he is standing upright waiting for the throw.

    I like hard hits but not when they include a desire to actually injure. Whether Morgan had that desire I have no way of knowing for sure. But it seemed like he did simply because he chose that option when the other one, sliding, was at least as good if not better. Don't take my opinion of 'jerk' to be the broad consensus either because I assume after what I just said about hitting many people will disagree and it's my opinion on hitting (or the intent behind it) that informs my using the word 'jerk'.

    As an aside I don't watch a lot of baseball and stopped playing it back in grade 6. Football and hockey are my sports.

  5. If you watch the replay, Morgan was still safe on the play. It was a bad call by the umpire. Morgan's foot lands on the plate a fraction of a second before the catcher tagged him.

    Regardless, how can anyone come down against Morgan for what happened with the fight? They threw at him twice in the same game, yet he's they didn't think he would try and steal, the Marlins shouldn't have held him on first base. It's all BS.

    What nobody will come out and say is that this whole thing is just because people generally don't like the guy. He's immature. He's a punk. We get that. Just admit it.