At about 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the Nats playoff chances came to an end.
At that moment, the greatest player in the history of the universe, the guy who picked this laughingstock of a franchise up on his slender frame and sprinted 90 feet with it, was lost for the year. Farewell, Tony Plush.
Speedy centerfielder Nyjer Morgan broke his hand while diving headfirst into a bag (one of the two steals he had) early in a win over the Cubs.
Mr. Plush almost always dives in head first -- a risky proposition. It's something he's aware of, as DC Sports Bog notes, but that he's willing to take the risk, "Headfirst, I just feel like you get dirty a lot quicker."
That's the so-called hockey mentality that had Mike Rizzo (and many others) raving about Nyjer when they traded for him. Rizzo loved his attitude and he quickly became a fan favorite with his outspokenness and love of the camera. (On a team full of vanilla creampuffs, it especially stood out.)
But it does beg the question: would someone with a "hockey mentality" really give up with a measly broken hand? Tape that bad boy up and get out there!
You want a real hockey mentality, you want Bobby Baun, who way back in 1964 scored an OT Stanley Cup game-winner after breaking his ankle earlier in the game.
And poor little Nyjer has a broken pinky and can't play through it? Amateur.
Still, in some ways, the injury to Morgan might just be the best thing to happen to him. He manages to get out of town (at least 'til next spring) before the inevitible regression happens. He's not really a .351 hitter, for example.
So he leaves at the height of his popularity and love, with all the fans and team officials crediting him as the key reason the Nats have been a .500 team for a month or so before any attention can be paid to the flaws in his game.
Tony Plush sure knows how to make an exit.