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Two unusual calls don't faze Nationals

First Ian Desmond was called out for running outside the baseline in the third inning. Then Nyjer Morgan was out after teammate Ivan Rodriguez pushed him back to touch home plate during a six-run eighth. That's two player interference calls in one game and some puzzled players in the Nationals' clubhouse following the 14-5 win against St. Louis.

"I just found out right now," Morgan said when asked if he knew why he was called out. "I didn't know. I thought I stepped on the plate, and I guess the guys, they're not allowed to touch me to push me back, and I guess that's what happened."

Morgan also said he did not know he had missed touching the plate after Rodriguez, the runner immediately in front of him, had scored on Willie Harris's pinch-hit double.

In the third, Desmond laid down a bunt pitcher Kyle Lohse fielded but made an off-target throw to first that got away from Albert Pujols. That allowed two runs to score and had Desmond standing on second before he was ruled out for stepping outside the baseline while trying to beat the throw. First base coach Dan Radison and pitcher Scott Olsen were ejected for protesting the call to first base umpire Rob Drake.

The Nationals got those runs back, however, when Dunn doubled later in the inning to score Adam Kennedy and Ryan Zimmerman.

"At that particular point in the game the crowd was going nuts," Desmond said. "Our team feeds off that kind of stuff. . . . We got a bunch of gamers over here, and I guess it takes that to rise to the occasion, but it was nice."

By Gene Wang  |  August 29, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Ian Desmond , Ivan Rodriguez , Nyjer Morgan  
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Next: Today's lineup


If you are surprised that Nyjer is unfamiliar with some of the rules of baseball regarding baserunning, well, you just haven't been paying attention.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 29, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Anyone think to ask how it is possible that Morgan didn't know he missed the plate by two feet while putting a cheap shot on the catcher? This posting and the game wrap-up don't even give the full story of what occurred.

As far as the Desmond play goes, where are the quotes from Riggleman? Good thing Goessling's blog has them covered.

Why the Post punted their Nats coverage and didn't hire either Zuckerman or Goessling I can't figure out, they've let the Nationals Journal fall from the top blog to one that is hardly worth reading.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 29, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse


This blog doesn't simply duplicate what has been written in the Post's traditional format (aka, the birg cage liner). This blog adds to that.

So, from the bird cage liner, here's the Riggleman quote:
"For me umpiring is extremely tough," Riggleman said. "They do a great job. They're the best in the world. I got no problem with umpiring. The play at first base on the bunt, that bothers me because I just don't like the rule. They probably got it right, but it's a terrible rule. It's got to be changed. Everybody knows you can't run inside the line. It's impossible."

Posted by: Sunderland | August 29, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

Yep, sometimes you have to read the dead-tree edition of the Post to get the whole story. Of course, the stories in the fish-wrap edition ARE available on-line. Usually the NJ blog links to them, as is the case at the end of the first paragraph in this post by Gene Wang.

It's amazing how lazy people are often the first to complain.

Posted by: bertbkatz | August 29, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the quote, Sunderland.

Hmmm...Ian says team feeds off crowd reaction...rises to occasion. Another ballplayer who must have missed stats class and doesn't understand the difference between correlation and causation. How amusing!

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 29, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I did read the Post game report but you three clearly didn't read Goessling's report which had more and better quotes from Riggleman. This blog is a shadow of itself from the days of Barry S.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 29, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Can someone give me the link to Goessling's blog?

Posted by: egoodman8 | August 29, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I have to read Wang's postings a few times to try and understand them. There is a noticeable fall-off when Adam has off. This one is pretty incomprehensible.

Nyjer is a hot-headed dope. Nothing new here.

Posted by: rbelleisle | August 29, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 29, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Was at the game and watched replays this morning. Both calls were absolutely correct. Desmond went well inside the baseline when he began his run and he knew it too if you heard his remarks after the game. Nyger would have scored if he had simply slid into the plate instead of going out of his way to run into the catcher.

Pudge bobbleheads all gone by 6 PM. I passed a number of people heading back to the Metro with bags containing several. There are tons on eBay this morning. Felt sorry for folks who came with kids expecting to get one.

Posted by: longhorn64 | August 29, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Thanks PB

Posted by: egoodman8 | August 29, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

As most of you know i think Nyjer gets a raw deal from some of us on this blog Nyjer has made some bonehead plays this season that being said the kid plays hard has made some good plays in the field and imho tries to do too much but calling him names saying he needs to be DFA'd is a little much i said it earlier Nyjer was the only reason some of us watched last year, so let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 29, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

Nyger Morgan's Greatest Hits (available at your Nats Stadium and visiting team stadiums today):

1. Getting thrown out at third for the third out of the inning before Craig Stammin touches home plate to cost us a run and ultimately the game against the Dodgers.

2. Dropping a fly against the Mets and then throwing his mitt on the ground costing us an inside the park home run.

3. Far too numerous to mention-- picked-off of first base, costing us numerous opportunities to win.

4. Throwing to wrong bases from center field, allowing opposing runners to advance.

5. Missing home plate against the Cards when no one even threw home to contest the play.

Nyger Morgan, the biggest nut in baseball. (Hopefully soon to be found in the bargain basement bin of an opposing team.)

Posted by: skins_fan_22 | August 29, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

For the record, Morgan was never the only reason I ever watched the Nats... that sentiment, in my opinion, is laughable... I think everyone who reads this blog only watches the Nats becuase, well, they love baseball and they love the Nats...

And even if you were going to only watch the Nats for one player, why would it have been Morgan, a career minor leaguer on a really great run for two months in 2009, over, say, watching to see Ryan Zimmerman blossom into a super star and dazzle with his defense... or hoping to see Dunn hit an upper deck home run... etc, etc... even back in 2009 those things were a lot more intriguing then watching Morgan play, even as spectacular as he was for a 200 at bat run last year...

I'm not calling for Morgan to be DFA'd... but it sure would be nice if we had enough depth to regulate him to a bench player role, because, man, his lack of baseball instincts have been on display all season long... and my feeling is for the last 5 months, those lack of instincts have hurt the team a lot more then he has helped...

Posted by: Ghost7 | August 29, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Just a clarification about this Journal post and the hard copy gamer -- both state that Desmond was calling out for running "outside" the baseline. That's technically correct, but to me at least it implies that Desmond was running outside the foul line. In fact, he was called out for running on the infield grass too long. By the 45 foot line (the halfway mark), the batter must be off the infield grass and on the dirt (inside the base path).

All of the objections to this by Riggleman and Ray Knight were not to the umpire's call but to the rule itself, which they think needs to be changed.

Posted by: Snopes1 | August 29, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Re: Nyjer.

I was at the game, too. And nobody except Willie Mays in 1954 makes that great running catch to save a run or two EXCEPT Nyjer Morgan. So cool your jets, folks; you take the good with the bad. How many of you will scream that Zimmerman's got to be cut when he sails a throw over the 1st baseman's head for the 87th time this year?

Posted by: MikeH0714 | August 29, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

On the other hand, Joe West and his merry band of renegades really DO neet to be cut.

Posted by: MikeH0714 | August 29, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I have watched the replay of the Desmond call, and I have to say that the ump blew it. First of all it's a ridiculous rule that has to be interpreted correctly by the umpire. It is physically impossible not to be inside the baseline as you approach the bag. The base is in fair territory for goodness sakes. Secondly, the pitcher was throwing from an angle that made Desmond's location a moot point. Like any other baserunning interference call, the umpire should be judging whether the runner's location had an impact on the play. Given the pitcher's location, it did not.

As for Morgan's, they got that one right. I'm personally less frustrated by the call, and more frustrated by him hitting the catcher for no reason - totally bush league. It wouldn't surporise me if the first pitch to him today was in his ribs. LaRussa tends not to mess around the vigilante justice. He exacts it quickly


Posted by: db423 | August 29, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Mike wrote:
Re: Nyjer.

I was at the game, too. And nobody except Willie Mays in 1954 makes that great running catch to save a run or two EXCEPT Nyjer Morgan.
Now come on, that's some very serious exaggeration.
Nobody on the Nats? Maybe.
But Maxwell and Bernadina both run better routes to fly balls than Nyjer does.
Nobody as in "Nobody except Willie Mays"?
Now that's just silly.

And when Zimmerman starts throwing to the wrong base, gets out of position on plays from the outfield, gets picked of base with stunning regularity, and starts making other boneheaded plays on the base paths, you can be sure people on NJ will light him up for it.

Physical errors are FAR more acceptable than mental errors. And Nyjer leads this team in mental erros by a HUGE margin.

@Dargreg - DFA Morgan? No need.
Coach him and manage him a ton better than Jim Riggleman has this year? Oh yeah.
Nyjer (and Desmond as well) need to really understand the consequences of their occasional boneheaded plays. That Riggleman has done so little to correct their mistakes is the bigger issue here.
I think on this, you and I agree.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 29, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

skins _fan_22: What team have you been watching? Nyjer's cost us numerous oppourtunities to win? Please!! how about the fact that we have the worst situational hitting in all of MLB,how about the starting pitching which routinley can't get past the 5th inning and has worn out our bullpen while Morgan has some issues he can't be blamed for a season gone bad.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 29, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The Shark with another home run. His 2nd in 3 days. Go Roger Bernadina!

Posted by: terrycalcium | August 29, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

MikeH0714 and Sunderland and dargregmag,

Agree that Nyjer made a really great catch last night. Does Roger get to that ball? Maybe, maybe not. Let's say no for the sake of argument. Even if there are a few catches that Nyjer makes a year that nobody else on our club can make (let's not forget his great catch over the fence at Camden Yards), who's the better overall CFer, Roger or Nyjer? For every great catch Nyjer makes there are others where he takes bad routes to balls and doesn't make the play. And the huge factor that no one has addressed is the strength of their throwing arms. Roger as a CFer has one of the strongest arms in MLB. Nyjer, one of the worst if not the worst. Remember Roger throwing Prado out at 2B in Atlanta? Against Nyjer, that's another base for the opposition. To even be in the same conversation with Roger as a defensive CFer, Morgan would always have to throw the ball quickly and accurately to the cutoff man or the proper base--which he doesn't do.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 29, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"@Dargreg - DFA Morgan? No need.
Coach him and manage him a ton better than Jim Riggleman has this year? Oh yeah."

If he's not gone he is headed for the bench as a utility player at this point. The weak arm really is the most serious issue ... as you say the bone headed plays can be addressed in other ways.

If they can't manage to hang on to Dunn they could move Willingham to first and focus on finding center and right field solutions leaving Bernadina in left where he appears comfortable.

Posted by: periculum | August 29, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

CapPete, peric, you are absolutely right that all other things aside, Nyjer does not have the arm to be an MLB centerfielder.
Some things can be coached, can be improved. Nyjer could become far more consistent in his routes to balls, and far better in his decison making about what to do with a ball once he gets it. But he still has the arm of a second baseman, and there's nothing he can do about that at his age.

Posted by: Sunderland | August 29, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Win 14-5, take 2 already in a series against the Cards and we have a comment section full of complaints. Only on Nats Journal! :-)

Posted by: Kev29 | August 29, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse


You don't think Bernie is comfortable in CF? The rule is you move a guy from CF to one of the corners if/when he proves he can't handle CF. This guy could play CF on a 1st division/playoff team. Easier to find LF and RF "solutions" than in CF, no?

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | August 29, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Kev29: You got it my friend you would have thought Nyjer cost us a chance at a playoff or wild card berth instead of just missing the plate in a blowout win.

Posted by: dargregmag | August 29, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Nyjer didn't just "miss the plate", he took a cheap shot on the opponent in a blowout win. TPlush fans, watch him while you can, he's out of here after September.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | August 29, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

On the Desmond bunt, even if you want to call interference and Desmond out, why return the runners to first and second instead moving them back the once base they advanced on the throwing error to second and third? Play was at first. Even if the batter is thrown out the runners advance.

Posted by: HondoHomers | August 29, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

The rule on base runner interference is that other runners cannot advance. Period. I agree, it is a stupid rule, both from the "interference" judgment call and the overly harsh remedy.

Posted by: bertbkatz | August 29, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Hondo: Uh, because that's what the rulebook says???

I'm constantly amazed by people posting here who consider themselves knowledgeable about baseball but don't even know the rules. Another example, snopes1 tries to tell us the rule specifies how long you can run on the infield grass before you go on the dirt. Wrong. At the 45-foot mark you must be in the runners lane (which is on the foul side of the 1B line) or be liable for being called out for interference. The grass has nothing to do with it.

Both calls were absolute textbook interference calls, by the book. You don't like the rules, fine. But don't show your ignorance by trying to pin these on the umpires.

Posted by: higginsrj | August 30, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

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