Not only is Washington Nationals outfielder Nyjer Morgan one of the fastest players in the major leagues, he might have baseball's biggest imagination. It makes sense, considering he's always gone his own way ever since he was a kid.
After falling in love with ice hockey, he left home in Northern California at age 16 to play juniors in Canada and skated as high as the Western League. Though he gave up playing professionally to join the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, hockey is still close to his heart and mind.
In perhaps the nuttiest Answer Man session yet, we get to meet Morgan, some of his teammates and Morgan's alter ego, a debonair gentleman by the name of Tony Plush.
David Brown: You guys are playing better. Even if you happen to lose, you look better doing it. Rather than fundamentals and effort, it's because of the Elvis wig, right?
Nyjer Morgan: I don't really like to say that it's all about the Silver Fox, but it's more likely that everybody's working as a cohesive unit. It's just a beautiful thing. We all believe in ourselves.
DB: In researching your stats for this interview, I came across stats for home vs. road, lefty vs. righty. I didn't see them for Tony Plush.
NM: Most of it should be under T-Plush. Right now, you're talking to T-Plush. By the fact that we don't have anything under T-Plush, under the bio, we definitely need to make that happen. T-Plush is definitely a little disappointed there isn't a T-Plush stat.
DB: Have you thought about going full metal and just becoming T-Plush full-time and just have Nyjer. ...
NM: N', n', n', n', no, because Nyjer's a gentleman and T-Plush is a beast. You got to be able to separate the two. Know what I mean?
DB: I thought T-Plush was your Gentleman's Name. Now you're saying that Nyjer is your Gentleman's name? It's hard to keep up with you.
Photo > Not Tony Plush, but Willie Harris in the silver Elvis Wig.
DB: When the Nats have Nyjer Morgan bobblehead night, let's say he's outfitted like Tony Plush. What's he wearing?
NM: Instead of a Nyj Morgan, they shoulda just had a T-Plush bobblehead. That woulda been more official in my eyes [laughs]. T-Plush would have had a nice little brim on with some stunner shades and a flamboyant shirt [laughs]. You've got to talk to the front office on that — I can't really speculate and throw accusations out there for them to make any kind of changes.
Ian Desmond: Should be T-Dawg Plush.
NM: ... T-Plush is from the Bay. San Jose to be more precise [laughs].
DB: Have you found a Gentleman's Name for Adam Dunn yet?
NM: Aw, that's Freddie Physical. We kind of want to drop "The Big Donkey" because "Big Donkey" just means slow, dumb, just can't really get it done. And that guy's about one of the coolest cats in the league. It's Freddie Physical now.
DB: Wait — Physical, but F-I-Z-Z-I-C-A-L?
NM: There you go, hee-hee-hee. Fizzle — hah, hah, hah!
(Editor's note: The Gentleman Name Generator at RumAndMonkey.com, insists that Morgan's Gentleman Name is Colonel Rawlins Templeton Rockler-Gladen)
DB: Isn't "Ian Desmond" almost a good gentleman's name already?
NM: Naw, that's young Hee-Sop's Fables [laughs]. That guy's full of stories, man. We don't know if to believe them or if they're fables. That's young Hee-Sop!
DB: Is this why the Pirates traded you, because they'd have to pay, like, two different guys?
NM: I think so, man. Basically the Buccos are a minor-league team for the major leagues — hah, hah, hah! It's one of those things, where, one man's trash is another man's treasure.
DB: You've moved on with your life, but were you the least bit sympathetic about the Bucs being outscored about a billion to one?
NM: Not really because I'm in Nats Nation, I'm a Nat Boy, so I'm definitely part of the SWAT Team. I enjoy being here, I love being here. The Buccos gave me a way into the game, but now I'm here and I'm ready to make a little bit of noise with my man Hee-Sop.
(Desmond and Morgan bump fists)
DB: There's been some talk of Super Mario buying the Pirates. What would you think of that?
NM: That'd be all right. I'm not saying they don't have the right people in there now, but it would be beneficial to the city, just because Super Mario is the god in the city besides the young kid, Sid.
DB: How do you feel about turning 30 in a couple of months?
NM: Aw, you would! Hang on, I gotta loosen up my tie.
(Voice changes ... now a little bit higher pitched)
NM: Well, you know, since I'm hittin' my grown-man stage. I feel like I'm a lot more wiser. I'm definitely taking this adulthood into stride. I figure that I'm still a kid because I'm still in my 20s — I'm a Late Kid. Now since I'm 30, I'm gonna be more seasoned. So you can call me "Real Lowry." Like the Lowry Seasoning. Wit' no MSG — hah-hah-hah-hah!
(Real Lowry has turned back into T-Plush)
DB: When you left home to play junior hockey, did you leave a note?
NM: Yeah, I left a note telling friends and family, "It's been nice knowin' ya" and, basically, this one of those times when I'm in my crossroads and get into my grown man shoes and get out there and get used to the world and see the world.
DB: Do any of your junior hockey parents still send you care packages just to make sure you're OK?
NM: Actually, I did get a little letter from one of my host families. She was definitely a cougar at the time — or should I say mountain lion at the time — hah, hah, hah! — and she sent me her praises and I sent her a little shout back that I appreciated the love.
DB: Considering you moved away at 16 for hockey, do you think some of the concern over Bryce Harper — getting a G.E.D. so he could skip ahead — a little overblown?
NM: Well, honestly, I'm a G.E.D. grad, myself. But I don't even know who Bryce Harper is — hah, hah, hah, hah, hah! I know Bill Gates got his G.E.D., so I guess, I guess if you're a good-enough diploma grad, you're good enough to do something in life!
DB: What happened with the Caps?
NM: With me being a huge hockey fan — Sharks fan — basically the Caps ran into a hot goalie. I like to analyze this stuff. I am an analyst. They need[ed] to put more bodies in front of that guy, so it makes it tougher for him to see. Basically, he got some wide-open looks, so that's why he's able to make those saves.
DB: Should Nats fans start bringing octopi to games to throw on the field when you guys win?
NM: Oh, no chance. We're giving nothing but salutes — hah, hah, hah!.
DB: Did the Blackhawks cost themselves a Stanley Cup by not trading for a goaltender?
NM: No, they didn't. I actually like the kid, [Antti] Niemi. He's actually a pretty solid goalie and I really like the Blackhawks great young talent. I've always said that, ever since the last two years.
It was probably one of the best moves, getting Denny Savard out of there and bringing in Joel Quenneville. So, they're gonna be all right. But they're gonna have to run against my Sharks. I don't think they got enough talent to get past my Sharks to the Cup.
DB: You know the Nationals "W" is nearly identical to the one for "Walgreens"?
NM: Oh, I didn't really think of that!
Ian Desmond: We're bangin' (hitting) 24-7, like Walgreens.
NM: You can throw that out there, Hee-Sop! I don't want to throw that one out there. We'll wait later on in the year to bang like that. I just thought of the "W" as a West Coast symbol, so — hah, hah, hah!
DB: I'm I'm thinking about changing my prescriptions. What can the Nationals offer me as a drug plan?
NM: [Laughs]. Some grapes [laughs]. Maybe some carrots or some grapes. Do whatever's clever for ya'.
DB: When Jim Riggleman was manager of the Cubs, he used to ride the "L" to Wrigley Field a lot. What about you and him taking the D.C. Metro to Nationals Park on D.C.'s Metro?
NM: No [laughs]. I mean, he's a helluva guy, but I don't think I'm capable of hangin' out with him.
DB: Not a Tony Plush kind of a guy.
NM: No, he is. I just don't think I'm able to kick it with him. He's higher up on the table than the kid. I might have to leave that one alone.
DB: What has Livan Hernandez told you guys about what it was like to be in Cuba during Fidel Castro's revolution?
NM: [Laughs]. Well, since I don't know too much about Cuba except for good rum and cigars, I mean, that's the only thing I really know about that little nation.
DB: Whatever field you're in — like, if you play center — it's called Morgantown. What are left and right field called?
NM: Damn, dawg. I didn't never thought about that. Well, we got Judge City instead of Dodge City.
Josh Willingham: [Points as he gets a water out of the fridge].
NM: And then we got Willie's Wampaland [for Willie Harris]. Sometimes we got Willy T. [Taveras] and we got Maxi Priest, the '80s singer [for Justin Maxwell].
DB: Do you also name parts of the infield?
NM: Nah, dawg, that's not my territory. You gotta talk to young Hee-Sop — hah, hah, hah!
DB: Have you been good about sliding feet first?
NM: Yeah, dawg, I've been good about it but I've never been caught this many times! This is like, the first time in my career where I've been 5 for 5 — but not in a good way, 5 for 5 — hah, hah, hah, hah! So, I don't want to use that as excuse, but I figure I'm running into a bunch of outs and killing rallies, so on a serious side, we've got to clean something up there.
DB: Why does Teddy Roosevelt do so poorly in the Presidents Races?
Ian Desmond: No heart.
NM: I don't want to say it's that late disease he caught later on in life where he was put in that wheelchair, or something. Maybe that's cause of it. In hindsight, they ought to just let the guy win once.
DB: That was a different Roosevelt.
NM: Oh, was it? I thought it was Teddy — hah, hah, hah, hah, hah! He's Theodore, right?
DB: Yeah, but the [wheelchair Roosevelt] was his cousin who was president 30 years later.
NM: Aw, OK. You can clean that one up! Hah, hah, hah, hah! Edit that one for me.
DB: The franchise used to be the Montreal Expos. ...
NM: No, no. "The Franchise" ...
Ian Desmond: That's Ryan Zimmerman.
Ryan Zimmerman: [Waves].
NM: "The Franchise" is known as Ryan Zimmerman! P-Franchise! Hah, hah, hah!
DB: OK, OK. You're a known Canadian sympathizer.
DB: Do you sense the spirits of Andre Dawson, Tim Raines — even though they're not dead?
NM: I really don't, since I don't know all that much about the ‘Spos. So I can't help you out on that one, my man.
DB: I think your club is looking for someone to sponsor the stadium so they don't have to call it Nationals Park anymore. What kind of ideas do you have?
Ian Desmond: Grapeland!
NM: [Long considerate pause]. I'm in deep thought right now. ... SWAT Land.
DB: What's the significance of that?
NM: ‘Cause you're gonna get swatted when you come in there! Hah, hah, hah, hah!
DB: OK, I think I got them all?
Ian Desmond: That's it? Ask some more!
NM: Cool, man.
Follow Dave on Twitter — @answerdave.
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Previous Answer Men (and Woman):
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2009 • Shane Victorino • Carlos Pena • Jay Bruce • Joe Nathan • Joe Maddon • Joakim Soria • Joey Votto • Tom Glavine • Adrian and Edgar Gonzalez • Chris Volstad • Paul Konerko • Edwin Jackson • Mark DeRosa • Tim Lincecum • Dave Righetti • Pedro Martinez • Denard Span • Cal Ripken