In case you have not heard, and if you have not I have to wonder how you stumbled on it here first, the Cardinals are well within striking distance of a National League Wild Card win. In fact, going into today, they are now one and a half games behind the crumbling Atlanta Braves for the final playoff spot in the National League. To top it off, they are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now. This team could be dangerous.
Back on September 7th, it appeared the Cardinals were done for the season. The team was struggling, falling further and further out of the race, and they were wrapping up their final game of the season with division rivals (and soon to be division champs) Milwaukee. As the game wound down, the every flamboyant Nyjer Morgan decided to draw some attention and caused a brawl that seen him at odds with the Cardinals super star first baseman Albert Pujols after Morgan threw his chewing tobacco in the direction of Chris Carpenter.
While the move was classless, it quickly became apparent to most of us that it was also cowardly. The final at bat of the final series against a team that had fallen from contention, Morgan made a statement without fear of retaliation. He even went so far as to carry it over to Twitter after being ejected from the game, calling Pujols out knowing full well they would not face each other again this season, nor was there a guarantee that Pujols would be a Cardinal by the time Milwaukee returned.
You can read 10 Things More Likely Than Nyjer Morgan Beating Up Pujols from our friends at CardsDiaspora.com for a fun look at the situation. I don’t mind, I’ll wait here for you…
Done reading? Good, let us continue.
Nyjer did downplay the situation after the game during post game interviews as captured here by 101 Sports:
This was not the first incident between Carpenter and Morgan. In fact, this one goes back quite a ways now. It was last year, while Morgan was a member of the Nationals, that he would elbow Bryan Anderson after scoring a run, despite Anderson not being in the way of the play. This spring, again while with the Nationals, Morgan would charge the mound after Carpenter pitched him inside repeatedly, though no punches were thrown. It was in August that the Brewers would visit St. Louis and Morgan would need to be removed from the dugout while he was yelling and cursing Carpenter during that late innings of a ball game.
After the September game, Carpenter would admit to yelling at Morgan after he struck him out in the ninth, which prompted Morgan to react the way he did. All in all, it is two very explosive personalities that are boiling over when they are near each other.
Suddenly, a few weeks later, the Cardinals are riding a huge surge and may be putting themselves into a position to make the playoffs. While that will not ensure a showdown with Morgan and the Brewers in the first round, it could very well put the two teams on a collision course this October.
Imagine the scenes as “T-Plush” takes to the batter’s box against Carpenter in the opening game of the National League Championship Series just to receive a fastball somewhere in the vicinity of the ear-hole of his helmet. Benches may clear. It may be as ugly as Cincinnati last season. Even still, when the dust settles, Morgan may have to take his place at first base with the very man he decided was not man enough to stand toe-to-toe with him. Can those two men coexist well enough to not start a second brawl minutes after the first calms down?
The playoff push is interesting enough. But the sub-plot that is developing may steal the show.
Be careful, Nyjer, your plan might just have backfired.