Last year was not a good one for Nyjer Morgan (or, Tony Plush), our favorite wacky outfielder that, as it turns out, is not particularly good at baseball. After a surprisingly decent season in 2009, Morgan's production fell way off in 2010, and ... oh yeah, there was this.
It was Chapter 2 in the three-part series that seemingly always occurs with wacky athletes like Morgan. Chapter 1 is when we admire their quirkiness, create copy out of it and adore them for it. Chapter 2 is when said quirkiness inevitably spills over into their performance, causing us to resent the same qualities we once loved. Chapter 3 is when the athlete decides his uniqueness is a double-edged sword and pledged to drop his quirky act and reform.
Ladies and gentlemen, Nyjer Morgan has reached Chapter 3.
Morgan was the subject of this profile by Scott Miller of CBS Sports, during which he revealed that "personal problems" dogged him last season. It's your classic Spring Training kind of profiles, with promises of him being a little "wiser" coupled with team personnel (in this case, Jim Riggleman) saying he has more "bounce in his step."
But buried at the bottom is something that will burn those who long for the return of silly Nyjer Morgan. As part of his ongoing maturity, Morgan announced that his famous alter ego, Tony Plush, is dead.
"I want to prove to myself and to the organization that the player in '09 is who they're going to get in '11, instead of the immature player from '10," Morgan said. "I left Tony Plush behind."
"Tony Plush," he said, grinning. "That's [an alter ego] from back in the day. Me and my friend. It's like Jekyll and Hyde.
"It got to the point where it was time to grow up. It's time to turn into a true professional. It's time to kick some ass."
Long life Tony Plush. Tony, this one's for you.