In the San Francisco Giants clubhouse, a place that he holds dear after just two months with the team, Michael Morse learned the bad news. He was told the Nationals had stopped playing “Take On Me” at Nationals Park in the middle of the seventh. Last year and at the start of this season, the Nationals continued to play the song Morse made famous during his slugging, smiling two full seasons in Washington. A couple homestands ago, it disappeared.
“Really?” Morse said. “Aw man. I still got it here. It’s incredible. You’ll see. It’s something I’ll always have with the people of D.C. But you know? It’s to another level here. It’s a whole other level.”
As Morse prepared to face the Nationals for the first time since they traded him after the 2012 season, the same could be said for his playing career. Morse loved his time with the Nationals, and even Monday night he thanked them for putting his career on its current course. But he has found a whole other level with the Giants. He beamed through an interview, constantly repeating how happy he is.
“Living the dream every day,” Morse said. “Last year was a year I don’t even think about. I turned the page on it. I went through some injuries. I was on a tough team, tough situation. I don’t know how, but I got blessed to be able to be picked up by this team in the offseason. It’s been incredible.”
Morse’s performance has helped. He leads the homer-happy Giants with 13 home runs, and he’s hitting .278/.329/.550. It’s his best season since he slugged 31 homers with a .910 OPS for the Nationals in 2011.
After 2012, the Nationals traded Morse to the Mariners in a three-team deal that netted them pitchers A.J. Cole, Blake Treinen and Ian Krol. Morse had one year remaining on his contract.
“Things happen,” Morse said. “It’s something I can’t control. It’s not something I think about. It’s part of the game. I’ve experienced every part of this game possible. When life gives you lemons, you make some great lemonade.”
For one year of Morse’s service, the Nationals received their current No. 2 pitching prospect, a solid rotation fill-in who has yet to reach his ceiling and a lefty reliever who helped land Doug Fister. Still, many fans missed Morse’s power and goofy demeanor. Last year, as he struggled through injures and hit .215 for Seattle and Baltimore, Morse wished he was still in D.C., too.
“It was tough,” Morse said. “I’m close to those guys. As much as I was struggling in Seattle, I wanted to be there with them, be there with the fight. But like I said before, things are out of your hand you can’t control.”
Earlier this month, Morse had pointed words about the final moment of his Nationals career. Speaking to USA Today, he expressed regret about the Nationals shutting down Stephen Strasburg. Monday, when asked a general question about 2012, he went there again.
“When I first got over here, a lot of guys asked me about that,” Morse said. “The winner of that game played the Giants, so we would have played these guys. You look back, and it just shows that this game, you never know what can happen. Who knows what could have happened if Stras would have pitched? Or if we did something different? It just shows you that you can be on top one year, and the next year not be in the playoffs or anything. You just got to play to win that day. And you’ve got to play to win that year.”
Morse still keeps in close touch with several Nationals, especially Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth. But he said his history with the Nationals and his closeness with former teammates wouldn’t change his mentality.
“It’s going to be, for me, just like any other game,” Morse said. “It’s kind of something I’ve turned the page on. I’m with an unbelievable organization, an unbelievable team here. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”