*Headline brought to you by Rick Reilly.
I try to have good customer service around here, and so if someone asks for a post on Nyjer Morgan, I can certainly oblige. Especially with the Phillies in Milwaukee for a 4-game series and Morgan going off on another one of his Twitter tirades, this time focusing on Albert Pujols. It’s hard to decipher exactly what Morgan is talking about, but the main talking points this time are him calling Pujols, “Alberta,” and claiming Albert’s “never been n tha ring.” The tweets were fired off in the aftermath of the Brewers loss Wednesday night where Morgan kicked off a bench clearing incident by yelling and throwing a wad of tobacco at Chris Carpenter. Of course, this is just another day at the yard for Nyjer, aka Tony Plush, Tony Tombstone, etc.
So, what are my thoughts on Morgan? Well, Morgan is the epitome of the player that only his home town could love, and considering he’s already made a few stops in his short career, even that description is probably pushing it. Milwaukee just happened to be a good landing spot for Morgan, and he’s happened to have one of his better years, allowing for the flourishing of his carefully crafted personalities. His act reminds me a bit of the shower shoe scene in Bull Durham. Winning can smooth a lot of edges, and so Morgan is loved and laughed at on a 1st place team, but when he and the Nationals were struggling last year the consensus becomes he’s kind of an a-hole.
All these acts wear thin. And just like people will stop caring about Brian Wilson’s eccentricities when he loses his edge as a closer, they’ll go back to loathing Morgan when he stops hitting and the Brewers stop winning. The regrettable thing about these manufactured characters and personalities is that they obscure what are probably intelligent and interesting players. They should realize they could be popular and entertaining without the gimmick.
On the last portion of the comment, regarding how nice it would be to see Roy Halladay plunk Morgan and then knock him senseless if he charged the mound? Yes, that would be pretty amusing. I’m not sure if Halladay has ever “been n tha ring,” but I doubt that it would matter. I was listening to sports talk last week and they were talking about how competitive Halladay and Lee were, and how interesting it would be to watch them compete in other endeavors, basketball, ping-pong, whatever. The thinking being that they’d kill each other just to get a little edge in HORSE. That’s probably true, but what I was thinking was that I’d take Cliff Lee in just about any other game, going solely on his hitting and running ability. Lee looks athletic, and Halladay looks like a baby giraffe. The exception though, is an actual physical confrontation. There, it’s gotta be Roy all the way.
On the series with Milwaukee itself, it’s a nice series, but it means almost nothing for the Phillies. After sweeping the Braves (so long, Atlanta), this is mostly all over but the crying for the rest of the National League. A lot has been made about Milwaukee’s home dominance, and the importance of getting home-field advantage, but the Phillies are nearly as good at home and much better on the road than Milwaukee. And, while the oddities of the schedule allowed Milwaukee to creep up on the Phillies a bit, they were never really close, and now sit 11 games behind in the loss column.
The Phillies arrive with a depleted roster after Chase Utley’s scare and possible concussion (I imagine he’ll miss the entire series), and will start a middle infield of Valdez and Martinez, but even with that combo the pitchers should allow the Phils to hold their own. A lot is made of Milwaukee’s dangerous offense, but again, I think that is mostly overstated. The Brewers average 4.4 runs a game, which is actually less than what the Phillies average and much of their production comes from the beastly 3/4 combination in the middle of the order. Prince Fielder, especially, always hurts the Phillies. You certainly don’t want to overlook the Brewers, and you don’t want to get swept, but the Phillies real concern at this point is getting healthy. If that’s slightly disrespectful to the Brewers and this series, well so be it.