I guess my disdain for @theRealTPlush comes from a series of incidents that happened within a little more than a year from each other. There was his barreling over of a defenseless catcher who was nowhere near the plate against the Marlins. While playing for the Nationals, his hit on Brett Hayes was uncalled for. What was worse was his reaction after being hit in retaliation for it, which escalated the situation. I am not saying he should have taken it, but to show up the team by stealing bases in a meaningless time of the game added to the fact that he was already wrong by hitting the catcher for no reason. If that was the one time he brought the negative vibes to himself, I could deal with it. Then there was him sticking his head into the Brewers/ Cardinals rivalry of 2011. His unprovoked shouting match with Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter seemed like a cry for attention, and maybe an attempt to prove himself as a "Brewer". With the fact that Carpenter has a reputation for antagonizing opposing players, that was another situation where if it was isolated, it would have been forgotten. Then there was the bold statements regarding the Cardinals playoff chances, which in itself simply made him look foolish. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers to win the NL Pennant and eventually the 2011 World Series. Add in the fact that he intentionally yelled "fuck yeah" knowing it was going to be heard on air on TBS, I have found it very difficult to endear myself to this man. Perhaps if he signed with my favorite baseball team, the New York Mets, I would give it one last chance.
But Nyjer Morgan is not the only associated with MLB that stands out as being a bonehead. 2013 was full of moments like that, from Mets SS Ruben Tejada's overall cocky attitude almost costing him a job to some of the umpires either doing a terrible job at what they get paid to do or going on a world tour with the hopes that the general public knows their name. I came up with the five biggest boneheads in MLB for the 2013 season. But, before I get into them, here are some honorable mentions:
Brewers OF Carlos Gomez was clearly in the wrong when he took his grudge with Braves LHP Paul Maholm too far in a game in Milwaukee. Starting a fight with the entire Atlanta Braves team did not make Gomez look good, but to this point, this is the only time I have seen Carlos Gomez act that way.
Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig burst onto the scene and pretty much saved the Los Angeles Dodgers 2013 season. He did not do it without some questionable hick-ups though. The fact that he became enraged during an altercation with the Arizona Diamondbacks is justified as he was hit in the face. His lack of hustle and overstated bravado have made him as many enemies as fans.
Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin has hopefully learned his lesson after running himself off the New York Mets. He has not proven himself to be an MLB player, let alone one who can spout off at veteran teammates and then his manager after being sent down to AAA. Getting popped for a 50 game PED suspension did not help.
However, the Mets players and perhaps management decided to isolate Valdespin, which put them in the fire. They deserved some criticism for allowing Jordany to get hit by Pirates RHP Bryan Morris in a game after Valdespin admired a HR in a game that had been decided already. Valdespin should not have done what he did, but to let the Pirates discipline him made the Mets look small.
Marlins RHP Jose Fernandez showed up the Braves a little bit in a game this past season. I did not look at this as a serious bonehead move, but one that should be stated. Braves 3B Chris Johnson looked just as silly when he involved himself, then intentionally took a scared route around all the players. (It was clear he wanted to speak but wanted to nothing to do with backing up what he had to say.)
I am sure many others can be mentioned in regards to incidents that happened this season, so feel free to let me know. Before I get into my top five, I need to mention the consistent bad performance of umpire CB Bucknor, a man who I am sure tries very hard, but he is among the worst at what he does. Without further due, here are my top five boneheads of 2013 in MLB.
5. Carlos Quentin, OF, San Diego Padres: I would have ranked him a little higher as my initial reaction to his actions in the LA game had me more upset than I currently am. But, Carlos Quentin had no reason to rush the mound after he was hit by the Zack Greinke. While stating he was hit by Greinke twice before, he failed to acknowledge the fact that he stands closer to the plate than any other MLB hitter and is frequently among the most hit batters in all of MLB. If he has such a problem getting hit, maybe it is time to back off the plate.
4. Umpire Tom Hallion: Hallion has had enough of a reputation for being a hothead. Maybe he simply needs some anger management. However, his actions during a Rays game in Chicago simply make Hallion look silly. After what arguably seemed like a small strike zone by Rays LHP David Price, it seemed like Price composed himself professionally walking off the field after the 7th and final inning of his outing. Was he happy? No, but he did nothing to show up Hallion. Hallion took his mask and said, "Throw the fucking ball over the plate!", enraging the Rays bench and leading to his subsequent ejection of Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson. Hallion then called Price and the Rays bench a "liar" when asked about it after the game. My two cents: The Rays bench would not have reacted the way it did had Hallion not made that statement. Fans come out to see the players play baseball, not Tom Hallion.
3. Umpire Angel Hernandez: This will be my final time I cite a MLB umpire in this piece (#HoldUmpiresAccountable). Similar to Bucknor, there is no doubt that Angel Hernandez is one of the worst at doing his job. This was something known prior to his actions in a game between the Oakland Athletics and Cleveland Indians when he was named temporary crew chief when Gerry Davis was unable to participate in Oakland. A ball hit by Athletics infielder Adam Rosales was ruled a double on the field when there was uncertainty over whether it went over the HR line or not. The umpires went to watch the video replay of it, which should have shown inconclusively that the ball hit the railing above the yellow line over the fence in right center field. As the crew chief, Hernandez refused to overturn the improper call. After ejecting Athletics manager Bob Melvin, MLB determined that Hernandez made the incorrect call, even though instant replay was used.
2. Brian McCann, catcher, Atlanta Braves: I, personally, like the fact that Brian McCann defends his teammates and has the reputation for being a very good leader. That should translate well to his new team, the New York Yankees. And the two particular incidents were provoked by Jose Fernandez and Carlos Gomez, respectively. But, McCann does look like a bonehead after taking it upon himself to be the police on the diamond. Many players show up the opposition by admiring home runs, and in my opinion, Fernandez did nothing more than what guys like Yasiel Puig and David Ortiz do on a nightly basis. If the first instance does not happen, the second is not blown up as much as it was. I thought McCann overreacted with the Fernandez situation, though he was correct with the way he handled the Gomez one. And while I admire McCann for defending his teammates, there is no one MLB player in charge of morality.
1. Luis Cruz, 3B, team Mexico in WBC, Dodgers, Yankees: I find it amazing that the biggest bonehead in 2013 happened to be over an incident during MLB's spring training. I figured somebody would have topped it during the long MLB season, and subsequent postseason. But Cruz, who currently is not playing for a MLB team and was let go twice during the season, still owns the prize. Not only did Cruz provoke a nasty brawl between team Mexico and team Canada, but the fact that he did not understand the rules of the tournament made him look even more foolish. After Canada OF Shane Robinson laid down a bunt to reach via a hit while Canada held a decisive lead, Cruz openly signaled to his pitcher to hit the next batter. The rules of the tournament stated that if teams finished with the same records, one of the ways of determining which team moved on was total runs scored. Cruz' voice was heard, which led to three pitches being thrown inside to the next batter, the last which incited the aggressive brawl between the two teams. Cruz recently signed a contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Professional League.
Perhaps I missed some other boneheads in MLB in 2013. Feel free to comment if there are any that strike your ire. Just remember, bitter feelings towards a manager for a team not doing well really dont count. Neither do underachieving players. Congratulations to Luis Cruz on winning the first annual "Nyjer Morgan Award", presented by www.johnpielli.com.