The always animated and sometimes belligerent Milwaukee Brewers outfielder — who also answers to the name of his alter-ego "Tony Plush" — was in full split personality mode, chasing down flyballs and getting under the skin of San Francscio Giants fans after flashing a hand gesture in their direction during Friday night's game.
The controversial moment happened in the seventh inning of Milwaukee's 4-2 win after the San Francisco native made a terrific running grab of Nate Schierholtz's(notes) flyball in left-center field. Morgan exchanged words with the fans immediately after the catch, returned the ball to infield and then started pointing in the direction of the fans as he retreated to his position. Just before getting there, Morgan spun around one more time and made the gesture seen pictured above (two angles).
At first, many believed that Morgan had flipped the middle finger in their direction. I know that's what I thought I saw upon first look. But as the pictures show, that wasn't the case. Instead, it appears he was making a "T" symbol with his arms, as he often does in an homage to the T-Plush side of his personality, while simultaneously signaling two outs.
Did I get that right, Nyjer?
"Two outs. We don't want any controversial stories here." he said.
That's what I thought.
But wait a second, Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Mercury News got some exclusive quotes from Tony Plush that illustrate to the difference in the personas.
"Whatever you think you saw, that's what it was," he said. "Write about the win." He asked my name, I told him, and he retorted, "Nice to meet you, my name's Tony Plush."
Plush would also explain the incident as "Just fans being fans, and me being an entertainer."
Alright, split personalities aside, I can see why Morgan doesn't think anything of the gesture itself. It's something he does on a nightly basis, much the same way an NFL special teamer self promotes after making an open field tackle. Generally it's harmless. But the difference Morgan has to understand in this case is he signaled in the direction of the fans in a reactionary manner.
That, along with the fact he continued carrying on through the rest of inning and on his way to dugout, prompting umpire Joe West to meet with manager Ron Roenicke on his behavior, puts this in a different category other than simply "being entertaining".
Because of that I'm sure you can expect a fine for Morgan. You can also expect the atmosphere in the vicinity of center field at AT&T Park on Saturday to be even more uncomfortable for Morgan, Plush, or whoever Roenicke might put out there. Should make for an interesting nine innings.