During his stay in Milwaukee, Brewers center fielder Nyjer Morgan has created a halcyon relationship with his feline friend, Slick Willie,
who, as do most cats, sleeps anywhere from 16 to 18 hours a day.
By no means has their relationship become parasitic, but Morgan’s alter ego, Tony Plush, may have found himself dozing off with Slick Willie more than expected.
After an oh-fer in a May 6 loss to San Francisco, Morgan’s average had tumbled to a meager .169 to accompany an equally-unimpressive .209 on-base percentage. He had more strikeouts (15) than hits (11)–none of which had gone for extra bases.
Needless to say, Tony Plush had yet to make his previously regular appearances at Miller Park. Morgan, the life of the Brewers himself, looked like he needed a defibrillator just to put up yet another zero in the hit column.
Then Slick Willie must have forced the man known as T. Plush out of the cat bed and into action in center field.
In the tenth inning on Sunday, Morgan raced back to the track and leaped to rob Melky Cabrera of extra bases, finishing the play with a mid-air crash against the wall. The Russian judge gave him a modest 7.5 on the actual catch and “Baseball Tonight” didn’t award Morgan with a Web Gem, but Plush emerged on–err…after–the catch. While running back to the dugout after the catch to end the inning, Morgan responded to hecklers, turning around, arms raised, and visibly hollering back.
The play was a sign of things to come, prompting this tweet from me.
After Norichika Aoki received the start in center on Monday, Morgan took the field for Tuesday’s game, hitting first. A nine-pitch opening at-bat ended with a strikeout swinging, but a base hit was the only aspect missing from the positive sequence for Morgan.
Tony Plush took over in the top of the second. Feeding off the Brewers’ energy after a two-run first inning, Morgan made the team’s play of the year, leaping at the wall androbbing Cincinnati’s Scott Rolen of a home run. There was a sentient buzz in center field and in Miller Park after the play, as Morgan was seen emphatically making the ‘T’ symbol with fans seated in the bleachers. Unlike on Sunday, “Baseball Tonight” rewarded Morgan with the top Web Gem of the night. The energy was prevalent surrounding Morgan for the first time all season.
The reborn Plush singled twice in the game and reached on a hit-by-pitch, scoring two runs. On his second hit, Plush’s wheels fell off after the swing as he stumbled onto the ground before laughing his way over to first base. He was the life of the dugout for all nine innings. For the first time all season, Morgan provided the jump start at the top of the order the Brewers were looking for, as they would cruise to a 8-3 victory.
In 2011, Morgan and his alter-ego(s) were seen (and heard) starting rallies, injecting “Beast Mode” with life, giving the world’s greatest postgame interviews, energizing fans, and lecturing on “Plushdamentals”.
His 2012 campaign has yet to (and probably won’t) feel the same as last season’s in terms of flat-out craziness, but, as with the Brewers, there is still time to turn it around.
And Morgan finally appears to be headed on that track…of course, regarded that Slick Willie approves.