More often than not, baseball brawls are lame. A pitcher plunks a batter, the batter charges the mound, the pitcher readies himself for the fight and then the players start aimlessly swinging like two preteen girls fighting over a Justin Bieber t-shirt at the mall. Arms flailing, hands flapping, heads cocked backwards (not the face!), and no contact made by either side. But then there are brawls like last night's Marlins-Nationals throw-down featuring Marlins rookie Gaby Sanchez swooping in like Batman and blasting Nats outfielder Nyjer Morgan with an epic forearm to the throat. BLAM! POW!
To appreciate the basis of the mêlée, you have to know a few things about Nyjer Morgan. Namely, that he's kind of a dick. He was suspended by Major League Baseball last week for throwing a ball at a fan in Philadelphia. Then there was Saturday night when he needlessly collided into Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson when coming in to score. But Morgan's dickishness hit home on Tuesday night against the Fish when, instead of sliding like a normal ballplayer should, he crashed into Marlins rookie catcher Brett Hayes at home plate like an NFL linebacker. Morgan got into a shouting match with a Marlins fan after the play. Hayes, meanwhile, suffered a separated shoulder and will miss the remainder of the season.
That brings us to last night. Marlins starter Chris Volstad plunked Morgan in the fourth inning, as a sort of retaliation for his over-aggressive play on Hayes. Morgan took his base but he stole second and third when the Fish were up 14-3. In baseball circles, stealing bases when you're down this much is frowned upon.
So in the sixth, Volstad thought he'd remind Morgan of this, and threw behind him. Morgan charged the mound and tried to land a haymaker on Volstad. But just before he could land a punch, first baseman Gaby Sanchez came in from out of nowhere and cold cocked Morgan with a clothesline forearm. Morgan went down like a sack of dirt. The benches cleared.
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The brouhaha was on. Players had to be restrained and the two opposing managers jawed at each other. Morgan, Volstad, Marlins pitcher Jose Veras and manager Edwin Rodriguez were all tossed. Morgan walked off the field taunting the fans with his arms raised in the air, evidently because that's what you do when you get your ass kicked.
As for Gaby, he stayed in the game and was later hit by a pitch from Nats reliever Doug Slaten. Slaten got ejected alongside Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. Sanchez then disappeared into the night to hunt for the Riddler.
Oh, and the Marlins won 16-10.