ST. LOUIS — Washington Nationals slugger Michael Morse has nothing to worry about if his baseball career ends prematurely. He could make it as a professional mime.
In what had to be the most convoluted and bizarre home run trot in major-league history, Morse recreated his swing at the plate — miming for everyone's amusement — before being made to trot around the bases to make it all legal after umpires used video replay, overturned a call and awarded him a grand slam.
Got all that?
It was definitely the strangest moment of Washington's 6-4 victory in 10 innings against the Cardinals, which brought them within a win (or Braves loss) of clinching first place in the NL East. And it probably was the weirdest moment in an amazing breakout season for the Nats:
Umpires initially ruled that Morse's first-inning drive against Kyle Lohse hit the top of the fence in right field and bounced back onto the field. Because of some confused and hesitant base runners ahead of him, Morse got caught between first and second and was tagged out for a long single. After replays showed that Morse's ball had cleared the fence, umpires emerged and indicated home run. But that didn't clear up the confusion.
Base runners weren't sure what to do next. Umpires wanted to ensure that each runner touched the necessary base or bases but how, exactly, were they to make it happen? Morse tried making a backward circuit by going from third to second to first -- Jimmy Piersall style -- but that wasn't good enough for umpires. They eventually made everyone resume their original positions when the ball was struck.
Bryce Harper came back from the dugout and took his mark on the third-base bag like an Olympic sprinter. Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche sheepishly went back to second and first, respectively. The umps finally got Morse to go to the batter's box. He still didn't know how to re-start the game, so he got some help from Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.
"I was like, 'What do you want me to do?'" Morse said. "So I look over to the dugout and everyone told me to swing and I was, like, 'I'm not going to swing.' But then Yadi goes 'Swing! Swing!' I was, like, 'All right!' So I swung. And it was pretty cool. It felt like spring training. It felt like a drill.
"I guess I didn't have to [swing again] but if they had called me out, I never would have slept again. I felt like everyone was waiting for me to swing. ... I wasn't going to do it at all, but it was such a crazy moment, that I might as well have some fun with it."
Fans might recall the winning "grand slam" single that Robin Ventura hit in the 1999 playoffs where he didn't complete his trot after touching first. You have to touch the bases, people. This stuff matters!
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