Another 902 Words About Nyjer Morgan | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Nyjer Morgan makes me uncomfortable.  Well, that’s not exactly right.  Everyone else’s reactions to Nyjer Morgan make me uncomfortable.

Morgan is many things.  A fast, above average fielder who makes some great plays, but also occasionally bungles a tough play spectacularly, magically transforming, say, a double into a triple.  He’s a contact hitter with smart location, so he gets a lot more extra base hits than you’d expect.  He’s usually a good baserunner, but he gets caught stealing far too often.  It hasn’t been much of a factor this year, though, so it’s perhaps excusable.

More prominently, and perhaps more importantly, Morgan is a loud, odd, unpredictable athlete in a sport that doesn’t generally cotton to the loud, odd and unpredictable (who aren’t closing pitchers.)  I was surprised when I first learned that he’s 31, because he has the misdirected, nervous energy of someone much younger.  He does goofy stuff a lot, and it’s mostly harmless and funny, and it seems like the team is feeding off of the loose, goofy vibe he gives off.

Then, once in a while, Morgan’s temper flares, benches clear, and the media fires off a dozen pieces scolding him for his immaturity, or his unprofessionalism, or whatever.  The real Morgan has emerged, everyone agrees.  Because Nyjer Morgan is just a festering ball of rage with a thin, silly veneer, and it’s impossible for a person to be inconsistent or complicated.  (Insert Walt Whitman reference here.)

This strikes me as incredibly condescending, unfair, and possibly more than a little racist.  I know, I know, cheap racism shot… and hard to prove, so I won’t dwell on it long.

But the subtext of these criticisms of Morgan –as, perhaps, with past criticisms of Barry Bonds, Milton Bradley, Curt Flood, etc.– is that he can’t control himself, that he’s just bad at heart.  Bonds and Flood were selfish, and Bradley was crazy.  It’s so easy, it seems, to reduce a human being to a single characteristic.

Wednesday’s incident, as with past Morgan mini-scandals, has already been framed as crazy Nyjer being crazy.  He called Chris Carpenter mean things, threw a tobacco wad at him, and Saint Pujols rightly scolded him.

Never mind that Chris Carpenter is a known whiner/jerk, and that Morgan says Carpenter was the first to flap his jaw (why would we believe him?)  Or that Albert Pujols confronted Morgan before anything violent had actually happened, which is really weird and paternalistic.

Please forget that Volstad had already plunked Morgan once before Plush charged the mound in the sort-of-infamous Nats/Marlins brawl of 2010.  Or that the brawl-triggering pitch literally went behind him.  Or that two of his teammates had been plunked already.  He isn’t thinking when he overreacts, or making a choice to defend himself and his team, he’s just reverting back to his natural, violent mean.

If this sounds familiar, it might be because we were forced into a similarly dumb conversation about Prince Fielder only a season ago.  And while Fielder’s apparently able to manage his temper these days –or maybe, as he says, it’s gone away with age– there is still a subtle hint of patronization when the topic of his free agency comes up.  Fielder couldn’t possibly be the one pushing for the oversized contract: it’s Scott Boras calling the shots, dictating terms and deciding Fielder’s future.

Please feel free to contrast this with the reaction to Ryan Braun’s extension, through which he will be guaranteed nearly Jeterian sums when he is old enough to run for president.  I like the extension, but a selfless act it is not.

It seems more fair, although a little speculative, to assume that Fielder grew up in an unnecessarily precarious financial situation because of his father’s gambling habits, so he wants to provide for his family to the best of his ability.  Or maybe he just wants to be paid what he feels he’s worth.  But no, it’s Scott Boras leading the weak-willed, helpless but otherwise fully-grown man astray.

We should apply the same Occam’s Razor rational to Morgan.  Maybe he just really likes attention.  Maybe he’s excited to be on a good baseball team for a change, but that doesn’t change his visceral reaction to being –according to Morgan– aggressively, verbally disrespected by a known goon.

And maybe Morgan’s antics –Tony Plush/Tombstone, mound charging, cryptic hand gestures – are primarily for the benefit of his teammates.  It seems like everybody on the Crew is on board to varying degrees.  I have to wonder if having a guy like Morgan around, who can voice both the team’s exuberance and frustration with equal flair, helps transform a good, small market team into one of the scarier units in baseball.

Morgan is a huge influence on the Brewers, maybe a vital one, and how often is that said about a mostly platooned center fielder?  Due in part to his presence, they’ve developed something of an “us vs. them” swagger that I haven’t seen in a Wisconsin professional sports team since, well, ever.  They seem to be playing to impress each other, and for the joy of it, and to prove they should not be underestimated.  All good reasons, and not often found together.

Sure, it pisses off boring, craggy teams like the Cardinals, but the more coherent this team feels, and the louder they are, the more confident I am they’ll make some noise in the playoffs.

 

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Cale says: September 9, 2011

    Well said. This last Nyjer issues was blow so far out of proportion by the media that it makes me sick. Why did Pujols have to “save the day” and run across the field? Morgan was not posing a physical threat to Carpenter. The whole thing is just more complaining by TLR and the Cards.

  2. Pablo says: September 9, 2011

    Phillies fan here, just wanted to say I couldn’t agree more with your article. I always have been a Morgan supporter and have been confused to say the least by the way he is covered by the media.

  3. Shawn says: September 9, 2011

    What’s racist about thinking he’s an idiot for shouting the f-word at a pitcher after striking out?

  4. Cale says: September 9, 2011

    Shawn, what about said pitcher shouting the f-word at Morgan? No one seems to care about that.

  5. JC says: September 9, 2011

    I think Nyjer has been a galvanizing force on the team. The Fielder/Braun/Hart/Weeks Brewers have always had their fun and displayed their ‘inside jokes’ out on the field in celebration, but they have taken it to another level of camaraderie this year. Even when the club wasn’t playing up to expectation, you could tell that they still enjoyed coming to the park each day.

    I think Nyjer has been a big factor in that. Baseball is the longest of seasons and players often seem bored playing the game. Not these Brewers….I am so glad that I root for a team with personality and, of course..PITCHING!

  6. Tim Schaefer says: September 9, 2011

    Thanks, guys. I mostly want writers to be a bit more self-critical when it comes to pigeonholing athletes. Obviously the stuff I said about Carpenter was tongue-in-cheek… it just seems to me that kind of thing happens to black athletes more than their white counterparts. And I wish there was more of a conversation about it.

  7. DPR says: September 9, 2011

    I don’t roam around and find baseball sites to stumble onto as often as I did in the past, but I’m glad that I did find this article today. Morgan does stupid things, but in an era in which so many athletes are afraid to say what they truly feel (when they are absolutely right, e.g. the Morgan/Volstad/Sanchez affair), he is not afraid to express his thoughts. That isn’t much but considering the fact that you can certainly make an argument that his views aren’t wrong, he is one brave little 5 ft 9 guy fighting the 6 ft 8 injustice. Just because he did a few questionable acts in the past, his later decisions have been judged based on it. Who’s to say that we wouldn’t have done the same thing in his shoes? I know I’ve thrown whatever I had on me at people in anger before, and I also know that throwing stuff would be the most I’d do. It’s great that you pointed out that Morgan did not necessarily want to fight with Carpenter. He could be just angry, annoyed, frustrated, or all three.

  8. Shawn says: September 9, 2011

    Cale: I didn’t see him shouting profanities at Morgan. Did you? Do you think its because he’s racist?

  9. Pete says: September 9, 2011

    The racism drop, which I do appreciate, was not because the media called him an idiot. It is not just because they called him violent, or mentally unbalanced. It is because they called him those things becauee white players who do it are just gamers, or intense, or old school. T-Plush is animated, yes, but if you actually listen to him talk about baseball and watch him play, he is as old school as it gets. As a Brewers fan, I want him around for many more years to come (unless his BA, OPS, and WAR plummet, then get him outta here.)

  10. Cale says: September 9, 2011

    Shawn…Morgan said Carpenter yelled at him “F you”, which prompted the chew throw. In my opinion, Carpenter and Pujols caused the benches to clear, not Morgan.

  11. incavigliaesque speed says: September 9, 2011

    No one called Carpenter racist. It was the media that was implied to be so. Or so I inferred. Youk charges the mound and he’s is a tough leader. Nyjer charges the mound; he is a stupid, trouble-making gangsta wannabe. Latin players are hot-headed, black players are thug and white players are tough. That seems like a totally fair assessment of the general consensus.

  12. Cory says: September 9, 2011

    Shawn: You typify where the problem comes into play.

    “Cale: I didn’t see him shouting profanities at Morgan. Did you? Do you think its because he’s racist?”

    This is the whole point, from where I stand. No we didn’t see him shouting at Morgan. Why? Because the only camera angle we had was on Morgan. Morgan did not flip out simply because he struck out. He was led to it by Carpenter’s yap, and Pujols’ cowardly act. If the only camera we had was Carpenter yelling at Morgan and Pujols running toward him, how would this have played out? No big deal, that’s how, because heaven forbid, anyone challenges Pujols and gets away with it. Either that, or everyone and their sister would have all but guaranteed that Morgan incited the whole episode. Not sure I’d call this racist, but I sure as hell would call it unfair and unjust.

    Another thing I love is that after Carpenter said whatever it is that he DID say, he turned around like the whiny coward that he and his team represent. Morgan, on the other hand, said what he said, and didn’t back down an inch. Then Albert comes running to “his pitcher’s defense” (B.S.) and escalates the whole thing. But, I’m sure we all know that if things would have gone to even the next level where fists were flying, Albert, a la Carmelo Anthony, would have either thrown one and bailed, or wussed out altogether.

    Albert, Carpenter, TLR, and the other Cardinals can take their unwritten “Cardinals Only” rules and shove them where the sun don’t shine. As can anyone who defends them and/or blames Nyjer for all of it.

    Bottom line: The Cardinals players/manager/coaches have relegated themselves to pout mode because they know that they are all but eliminated from any October baseball.

  13. Brian says: September 9, 2011

    I am a life-long Brewers fan born who had the misfortune of being stationed overseas during the Brewers 2008 playoff appearance. Now I am finally back home in the States and WAS looking forward to flying home to see the Crew in a home playoff game this fall, but Morgan’s stupid Twitter post “I hope those crying birds injoy watching tha Crew in tha Playoffs! ” has ruined all the good feelings I had about this season. You never, NEVER make a dumb prediction like that in the Army…much less a professional sport. I won’t feel one bit of anger if this team stumbles in the stretch and finishes behind St. Louis, because stupid statements posted online for everyone to see generally result in some negative consequence.

    • Larry Underwood says: May 6, 2012

      You called that one, Brian. The baseball gods don’t like the kind of stuff that comes out of Nyjer Morgan’s babbling mouth, nor his stupid Twitter posts. He’s a disgrace, and as of 5/5/12, his hitting like one (.169). Glad the boring, craggy Cardinals made T Plush eat his stupid words. Good luck trying to get rid of him; no other team in their right mind would want an idiot like T Gumbo. Btw, only Nyjer would have an alter ego’s alter ego.

  14. Tim Schaefer says: September 10, 2011

    Quick question: has Morgan done anything morally/ethically questionable outside of baseball? I Asked Jeeves, and he didn’t know.

  15. Cory says: September 10, 2011

    Tim, he absolutely has not!

    Brian: Morgan is confident his team will be playing in October. So he posted it on a social network instead of saying it to reporters, woop-dee-doo! I would hardly call it a dumb prediction considering the 7 game lead we have with less than 3 weeks left. Bold & dumb would be to make those comments if we were not even in first place.

    “I won’t feel one bit of anger if this team stumbles in the stretch and finishes behind St. Louis”: This statement completely disproves your first sentence. You are NOT a “life-long Brewers fan born” (whatever the hell that even means) because no REAL FAN would say something so stupid. All of your “good feelings” about this season have been ruined by one sentence a player posted on Twitter? Please tell me how that makes a lick of sense coming from someone who claims to be a life-long fan? Actually, don’t bother, because it doesn’t! Even if I was as angry about that one sentence as you are, it wouldn’t ruin everything the team has built this season. So, yeah, if Braun wins the batting title and the MVP award, it won’t matter, because hey, do you remember that 1 sentence Nyjer Morgan posted on Twitter? Please, get off the bandwagon and leave this team to the real fans, OK?

  16. Jeremy says: September 10, 2011

    Carpenter said he was pissed at Morgan because he “yelled” the night before when he hit a double and a homer. Essentially he was mad that Morgan was excited and dared to show his excitement vocally. And in watching the game that night Nyjer didn’t yell at anyone he was saying “yeah!” and “whoo”.

    This is why when he struck him out he yelled “fuck you” at Nyjer. Nyjer replied to him the same and threw his chew at the instigator. Pujols then came sprinting in from first base and began screaming at Nyjer which is what emptied the benches. This whole incident was instigated because Carpenter and the crybaby Cardinals don’t like anyone having fun while playing a GAME and felt Morgan “showed them up” the night before.

    Just another example of why so many non Cardinal fans despise that team. Ryan Ludwick said that in an interview that after getting traded from St. Louis he was shocked to hear from his new team mates in San Diego just how much other teams hate the Cardinals for all of their crybaby bs.

  17. Cory says: September 10, 2011

    And there’s th period to end this whole thing! Thanks Jeremy, right on!

  18. Matt says: September 10, 2011

    This was a good article and I agree with it (Braves fan). I think the Cardinals are always complaining about something and it’s usually TLR behind it or encouraging it. In this instance, I would not be surprised to know Morgan was reacting to more whining from Carpenter. However, his Twitter comments…”Alberta couldn’t see Plush…” that’s where you lose me. First, you sound like a jackass and don’t do anything for this (in all likelihood) false perception of the person you really are. Second, I have no doubt that “Alberta” would destroy him as the copy machine in the ESPN commercial would suggest. I like his energy and I’m sure his teammates have largely benefited from it, but there’s nothing wrong with using a filter after the fanfare (actual game, heat of the moment) has died down. Good luck to the Brewers in the playoffs.

  19. Adam says: September 11, 2011

    I definitely agree that the media overreacts to Morgan. What is so bad about professional athletes doing goofy/ entertaining things? Aren’t professional sports supposed to be entertaining?

    Regarding swearing, I’ve seen people do extensive swearing at each other during pick up basketball games. People get competitive, more so in pro sports I’d imagine.

    The Cardinals, and TLR in particular, get fawning coverage by the media. Even Bill Schroeder backed off his criticism of TLR following the ridiculous beaning of Braun (which could have actually resulted in injury, unlike swearing at someone). I don’t know why certain people get covered in a fawning fashion, but I don’t believe it is racism. Pujols, for one, is a minority athlete beloved by the media. If you want an example of a black athlete, look no further than Torii Hunter. I’ve lived in the Twin Cities for most of the past decade, and the media here constantly talks about what a great leader and “gamer” Hunter is, despite the fact that he tried to punch Justin Morneau in the clubhouse, and constantly called out teammates for not being tough when hurt, all the while missing tons of games with injury himself. Joe Mauer, in contrast, is constantly slammed by the media, especially this year when he was struggling with bilateral leg weakness. Kevin Garnett was/is also loved by the media, even though he cold clocked Rick Rickert.

  20. Ken says: September 11, 2011

    Dude was a straight-up western Canada HOCKEY PLAYER. ’nuff said.

  21. Philboyd says: September 13, 2011

    This is the best analysis written about this incident. And I don’t think you need to equivocate about mentioning racism. People have at least unconsciously feel differently when a black athlete acts out.
    Carptenter admits he said “F off” to Morgan after he struck him out. Nothing racist about that, and nothing crazy about Morgan getting mad about it (ill advised, kind of a poor choice sure but not crazy or malicious or unhinged).

  22. Shawn says: September 16, 2011

    Apologies for ‘typifying the problem’.

    I don’t think its appropriate in any context for professional athletes to yell ‘F you’.

    I think its a little asinine to say ‘its racism because the camera was on Morgan’. Good lord.

  23. Greg Magarian says: September 24, 2011

    Outstanding article, right on the nose. I was at the game where the Carpenter incident happened, and I followed the aftermath closely. Carpenter, as it turns out, is a lying sack of shit, and he thought he could get away with it because Morgan has a rep as a troublemaker. That also makes Carpenter a cynical, opportunistic douchebag. As for Saint Albert, he’s an egomaniacal bully, and Tony LaRussa . . . is there a worse human being in baseball, judging by the available evidence? I live in St. Louis, and I really like living here, and Cards fans are generally as knowledgeable and friendly as advertised. But I want this team to lose almost as much as I want the Brewers to get home field.

    On the racism thing, I wish I thought I would die at a ripe old age not having to deal with the constant spectacle of somebody pointing out painfully obvious racism and then having some wounded white guy whine about how, sure, racism exists, but it doesn’t exist here. Of course the media’s, and the Cardinals’ , accusations of pathology against Morgan are racist. Your article explains this rationally and patiently. The black hotheads in baseball are always deranged thugs; the white hotheads are always plucky sparkplugs. It’s nauseating, it’s retrograde, it’s bloody obvious, and it has to stop. Someday? Please?

  24. travis says: October 29, 2011

    cory cory cory… that had to burn your ass last night huh???

  25. travis says: October 29, 2011

    so… the cards are the 2011 world series champs. all this trash talk on them and where did it get you guys? in the future it would do you a lot of good to think about the teams youre mouthing especially when your team is a known loser! you guys and all the cubs fans should get together and talk about next year since thats all you will ever have to look forward to. the brewers have always been one of those franchises that were insignificant to me but you guys and your less than average nyjer morgan have made me hate them. luckily i will probably never have to see them in the playoffs again and can just look forward to a 12th world championship from the cards. see you next year sports fans.

  26. Forsberg says: February 14, 2012

    I love when someone who doesn’t know that much about baseball writes a whole essay on the topic. You say he is above avg defensively? Well his defensive WAR will argue with you. He is a career 288 hitter with more than 2 times the strike outs as walks. He does lead the league in caught stealing often, which is huge for you.
    When does a first baseman not come in when a batter starts going to the mound? Since you never played, I will answer it for you. It is the first basemans responsibility to try to cut that player off. So it isnt “Saint Albert”. It is what a player does. I know since you love Morgan, you cant imagine a player would do something for the team and not himself.
    As far as the racial aspect…… You are a complete clown. There is nothing worse than some lame white guy who feels the need to throw the race card out for other people. Do you remember Jeff Kent? Hated by everyone, including his team mates and the media. He was often bashed in reports. But since you don’t follow baseball, how could you possibly remember all the way back to 2004?
    Do you think it is just possible that the reason why people call Morgan an arrogant, over rated, hot head is because he is? He is a fringe player who had such a poisonous attitude that Pittsburgh and Washington gave up on him and he was out of baseball until the Brewers came calling for a 3rd center fielder.
    Do everyone a favor and only write about stuff you might actually know about because you proved that baseball is not one of those things.
    Also, you can take solace in the fact that the best season ever for the Brewers ended with another team celebrating on their turf. In large part to Morgan, who you adore so much.

    • Tim Schaefer says: February 14, 2012

      …and apparently a short piece on a fringe player requires an angry rebuttal three months after everyone stopped caring. For some reason.

  27. travis says: February 26, 2012

    of course YOU guys all stopped caring, your pitiful team did what they do best and dissapointed you. and now all the brewers fans that mouthed all year just want it to go away and dont want anyone to talk about it… not the way it works. why hasnt big mouth morgan been doin any of his interviews? he would still be talking if he had won something but since a brewers WS is an impossibility we thankfully dont have to sit through that. just because the brewers lost doesnt mean the world stopped caring it just means brewers fans did.

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