A Few More Words About Tony Plush
"We're starting to get into Plush mode," Nyjer Morgan said about an hour before Thursday's Nats matinee. "Starting to get that energy in me, getting ready to go entertain."
Ah yes, Tony Plush, what Morgan calls "my better half, my alter ego, all the wild and crazy things I do" on a baseball field.
The name has, in fact, had several meanings throughout Morgan's life. Initially, it was just a nickname used among a trio of Morgan's childhood friends, which also included "James Dean" and "Frankie Sleaze." Together, they were the Rat Pack, and it had nothing to do with baseball.
In Pittsburgh, Morgan told the media that Plush was his gentleman's name; "and the next thing you know I have a Plush Gentleman's section in left field," he said. A gentleman's name, of course, is for the ladies, and "every once in a while, I could [still] drop a T-Plush on 'em," he told me.
But back in Class A ball, Plush had also become Morgan's mindset when he steps onto the baseball field, a persona less relaxed than the real-life guy, more focused on putting on a show.
"Because I'm an entertainer," he said. "You know, I've got to go out there and entertain every night, so I figure everybody needs a stage name....I'm not crazy, just out there having fun, just enjoying the game. Just trying to make it exciting, trying to put a little different twist to it."
Teammates, I guess have had different reactions to this Plush persona.
"Listen, Tony Plush is all out," Willie Harris said. "You can see a difference, actually. [Morgan's] a laidback dude, all around, he's just laid back. But when we're playing, it's like he's on some kind of crunk juice or something. He's always creating havoc, starting trouble for some pitcher. Tony Plush is the real deal."
"That ain't me, dude, I don't know," Adam Dunn said, when I asked if he had an alter-ego. "It's him. It works."
At least a few Nats teammates didn't know from this Plush stuff until they went back to Pittsburgh and heard all the Pirates referring to Morgan by his stage name. Several thought they needed a stage name of their own, and Morgan has started handing some out. Ryan Zimmerman, for example, has been dubbed "Peter Franchise," because "he just kind of looks like a Pete Franchise."
"He gives everyone stage names I guess, so that's what he gave me," Zimmerman said. "You know, you can't argue with Tony Plush."
Willie Harris suggested "Ricardo Wilson" for himself Thursday morning, but Morgan came back with "Rické," and quickly began using it in conversation.
"And then I'm working on one for the big guy," Morgan said, gesturing toward Dunn. "I don't like the Big Donkey. That's kind of cheesy. He needs a stage name, and I'm working on one."
"I don't really like it either," Dunn said.
"It's garbage," Morgan concluded.
Morgan doesn't have any Tony Plush gear or T-Plush tattoos. He doesn't want the persona to make it seem like he's showing up the game; "you've still got to be humble about it, too," he said. He never had a stage name when he played hockey, and the Plush persona is different from his DJ name, DJ Ny Ny Ny Ny Nyj Nice.
"When I'm on the radio, maybe the host, if he needs a little help spicing it up a little bit, I'll be like, 'Yo, let me get the M-I-C, yo, this is DJ Ny Ny Ny Nyj Nice on the ones and twos, signing off, let's go,' " Morgan said.
Maybe I looked confused at this, I'm not sure, but he stepped in to clarify.
"See, you only do this once, you've got to have fun with it, you know?" he said. "If somebody hasn't seen me, I try to leave a good impression on their mind, so they come back to enjoy this beautiful game of baseball."
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