Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

FJM has gone dark for the foreseeable future. Sorry folks. We may post once in a while, but it's pretty much over. You can still e-mail dak, Ken Tremendous, Junior, Matthew Murbles, or Coach.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Let's Think Positively

So, some of our loyal readers have mentioned that we should spend at least a little time discussing writers who are good at what they do. So, here's the FJM Check-Plus of the Week, from's (!) Dayn Perry:

The following is an exercise in craven subjectivity.

We're talking overrated and underrated. Any time these two words are introduced into the discussion, you're taking into account individual perceptions, however skewed and adulterated those might be...

If they were a band, they'd be Coldplay. Yep, it's the top 10 most overrated players for 2005...

All right. I am ready. Tell me how Adam Dunn is overrated, so I can kill myself.

1. Scott Podsednik, LF, White Sox

Oh my God, I am so excited. My heart is beating at like 4x normal rate right now.

To hear many in the media tell it, Podsednik is the catalyst for the best team in the American League. To hear the numbers tell it, Podsednik is a below-average performer by left-fielder standards. He has his merits — good defense, solid on-base skills, speed on the bases — but his failings are more critical. To wit, he can't hit for power. At all. Podsednik's .337 slugging percentage is appalling for a corner outfielder playing half his games in one of the best power parks around. A left fielder with no home runs this late in the season isn't doing his job, no matter how many bases he steals.

It's to my ears. Someone is actually saying it. I might start crying.

3. Hank Blalock, 3B, Rangers

Blalock has loads of ability, but his levels of offensive production are illusory. That's because Ameriquest Field is drastically inflating his numbers.

Consider his career batting line on the road: .241 AVG/.300 OBP/.401 SLG. Now contrast that with his work at home: .316 AVG/.386 OBP/.566 SLG. Until he learns to hit away from Arlington, Blalock won't be the All-Star he's passed off as.

Okay...not the best grammar there at the end, but you convinced me. I didn't think of Blalock as overrated. Now I kind of do.

4. Kevin Millar, 1B, Red Sox

Folksy and likeable? Sure. Idiot, Cowboy Up and all that stuff? Sure. Productive? Nope. This season, Millar is putting up a batting line of .270 AVG/.357 OBP/.367 SLG, which isn't adequate for a defensively challenged first baseman. He's had a couple of very good seasons in his career (both as a Marlin), but he's been unable to produce at all on the road in recent seasons (Fenway is a haven for right-handed batters). Regardless of clubhouse chops, he needs to be benched for road games and cut loose altogether after this season.

Fish in a barrel, but he's right. Although, I don't think there is really anyone who overrates Millar these days. Ditto his #5, Victor Zambrano.

6. C.C. Sabathia, SP, Indians

In some circles, Sabathia is regarded as an ace. He's not. In only one season has Sabathia worked at least 200 innings while maintaining an ERA better than the league average. This season, his ERA has risen to a career-worst 4.75. Sabathia's still only 25, but the time has come to realize his promise.

Fair enough.

7. Zack Greinke, SP, Royals

Fits and starts for a pitcher this young are to be expected, but a 6.28 ERA? Greinke was once hailed as the best pitching prospect in baseball, but it's not likely he'll ever live up to those expectations. Why?

Greinke posts low strikeout rates in tandem with fly-ball tendencies. That's a dangerous mix. No matter how good a pitcher's command might be, if he's allowing a lot of balls in play and a lot of those balls are in the air ... well, that's bad. Press clippings aside, don't expect future greatness from Greinke.

Ignoring the nebulous "command." Talking about K-rates and GB/FB ratio. I might have a crush on Dayn Perry.

8. Ichiro Suzuki, RF, Mariners

Ichiro is a cultural luminary, an important figure in baseball history and a thoroughly likeable and engaging athlete. He also hits for average, runs the bases well and plays an exceptional right field.

However, Ichiro lacks secondary hitting skills. That means he doesn't draw walks and doesn't hit for power.

Because of these deficiencies, he's a player who needs to hit .330 or higher to be effective. Some seasons, he does that, and some seasons he doesn't. When you consider all Ichiro signifies and his global popularity, he's worth the attention he gets. However, through the prism of on-field performance, he's not.

Ichiro is overrated! Ichiro is overrated! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee!

The last two are Sean Casey and Klesko. Whatever. The point is, Dayn Perry, we salute you.

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posted by Anonymous  # 11:44 AM
I just want to go on record and say that I only want to cover people who write and say dumb stuff. But, whatever.
I hear you, dak. This was just a little palatte cleanser. Overall, I'd like to go 99% bad, 1% good -- so look for the next FJM Check-Plus, a review of a Peter Gammons chat, coming to the site in March 2008.
Do we really love Gammons that much?

I could see a Neyer article or something.
Sure, Neyer, fine. I picked Gammons because his chats are the exact opposite of Joe's -- succinct, fact-based, and directly in response to the posed question.

The point is, I hate Joe Morgan.
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Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Ozzie Guillen, Motivational Speaker

Don't turn against your pitchers, Ozzie. Your pitchers are the only reason people think smartball works. This is re: the rangers stealing signs.

"The way Buehrle pitched yesterday, it seemed they didn't need signs. Everything was right down the middle of the plate."

Good managing. Also, you left him in for seven innings even though he was throwing BP.

posted by anthony baseball  # 10:52 PM
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Please Help Me Solve This Mystery

In his latest article, Joe Morgan writes: "When I was in college, I wrote my thesis on the Negro leagues." He also says he got an A.

Now. I'm not saying Joe Morgan never went to college. Even I, a guy who writes for a website called "FIRE JOE MORGAN," could not possibly believe that Joe Morgan would fabricate some sort of collegiate experience if he never enrolled in any sort of post-high school academic institution.

That said, here are some facts:
1.) Baseball Almanac plainly states that Joe Morgan did not attend any college. I don't put too much stock in this, as they don't list any nicknames for Joe Morgan neither. ("Little Joe" might be terrible, but it's still a nickname. Ditto "The Little General.")

2.) I've been searching online for about an hour now, and I can't find any evidence that Joe Morgan went to college. I could be missing something, or it just might not be out there. I'm this close to signing up for a trial membership to Encyclopedia Brittanica online, which seems to have a more complete Joe Morgan bio than any other site.

3.) Joe morgan was all of 20 years old (and like 2 days) when he played his first major league game, in September of 1963.

So, did 19-year-old Joe Morgan write and complete a thesis -- not just a paper, but a thesis -- just before playing in the big leagues, at some college that can't be found in any internet search?

Please help me solve this mystery.

**MYSTERY SOLVED. Check comments.**

posted by dak  # 3:58 AM

I think.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in. Turns out Joe attended about a year of JuCo before his playing days. Could've written something there.

BUT, here's the real answer, as quoted from several of our readers:
"He promised his mother when he left college to sign with the Colt 45s that he would earn his degree. Taking classes in the off-season and into his retirement, he graduated from Cal State-Hayward in 1990 at the age of 47."

CS-H is apparently now called "Cal State East Bay." So, there you go...I guess.

I don't know why it didn't occur to me that the dude could've gone back to college after he played. Kind of embarrassing.

What's more, I know now that JM has two children, which for some reason makes me feel kind of bad about the name of the site.

BUT! Come on. He's still terrible.
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Sunday, August 28, 2005


Well, They Do Call Him Psycho.

Thanks to reader Bryan for this nice little nugget:

On Saturday's FOX broadcast of Mets vs. Giants:

"Offerman is a guy who can clearly still hit. His numbers don't indicate that this year."

This is really the essence of the problem, isn't it? Pundits making statements about the game which are in direct contradiction to actual fact. Of course, it is very rare, and exciting, for one of them to immediately acknowledge how wrong he is -- in essence, to do FJM's work for us.

(FTR: Offerman has had an OPS above .716 once since 2000, and that was in 172 AB with the Twinkies last year.)


posted by Anonymous  # 9:37 PM
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Friday, August 26, 2005



Buzzmaster: We'll get started in just a minute, so keep the questions coming!

Ken Tremendous: No! I'm going to hang back and point out how stupid the answers are instead!

Joe Morgan: Good morning, let's get going!

KT: Awesome!

Rochester: The Mets seem to be surging at the right time. Do you think they can overcome the rest of the Wild Card teams with their veteran pitching?

Joe Morgan: I don't think the Mets have any edge in any capacity. All the teams are pretty equal, and they will have to score runs and continue to play good defense. But sure, they can win it if that keeps up.

KT: Strong start here, Joe. If the Mets score runs and play good defense, they should have a shot. I like the seemingly sarcastic: "But sure, they can win if that keeps up," as if he's not the idiot who just suggested it.

John (Waterbury, CT): Hi your opinion, who has the better rotation at this point in the season, the Red Sox or the Yanks? And Bullpen?

Joe Morgan: That's like flipping a coin. The Yankees have the most potential if Johnson and Mussina are up to par. But it's not about potential. With the Sox you don't know what you're going to get out of Schilling and how long it will take him to find his rhythm. If it takes a while that will have an effect on the race.

KT: You think? The guy who went 21-6 last year and beat the Yankees (in the Stadium) on one leg -- you think missing that guy will affect the race? Are you sure? Think about this. Also, "if it takes a while?" It's August 26, and he just started for the first time in months. It has taken a while.

3FF (Arlington, VA): Hey Joe, the Reds looked pretty good. We all know they won't do anything this year, my question: Is it a mistake by the organization to not trade Griffey this season? What could/should they have done?

Joe Morgan: No, I don't think so. I hear this all the time: trade him and get something that will help them. What are they going to get that will help more than Griffey. When he's himself the pressure is off the young kids and that's why they're playing well. He still has some years left in him so they should keep him on.

KT: Junior is having a good year. But with the money they would save, and the prospects they might get in return, trading him is a no-brainer, in the right deal. The ChiSox are desperate for a bat -- they might give up a ton for the chance to win their first Series in 88 years. The Reds are not going to win anything while Junior is playing. A deal makes a lot of sense. (These are all examples of sentences a normal human might have written.)

John (Charleston): how come the Tigers have gotten no love this season? they have really turned it around over the last two seasons

Joe Morgan: Every team in baseball would be a contender with more pitching and another bat, which is what the Tigers need, but they have gotten much better in the last couple of years and if there is something available in the offseason they should go after it and try to improve even more.

KT: This one is hard to parse, perhaps because it is three run-on-sentences strung together. Play along at home:

1. Every team in baseball would be a contender with more pitching and another bat. (True, I guess, if meaningless. "Every building would be taller if you added more stories and a tower at the top.")

2. "...which is what the Tigers need..." (Again, I guess true, but the question was about why they haven't gotten any "love," since they have improved so much over last year. It's like, whatever anyone asks, Joe answers as if the question were: "What do you think about [TEAM X]?")

3. "...but they have gotten much better in the last couple of years and if there is something available in the offseason they should go after it and try to improve even more." (Again, not the question, in any way. Also, I think it goes without saying that TEAM X should try to improve in the off-season by acquiring players who are better than the players they have now. This is reaching new heights of stupidity.)

Chadwick (Philly): How about Vicente Padilla. He is looking like the all star from a couple years ago. With him pitching well along with Lieber and Myers as well as our stud 3 in the bullpen. Do you think the phils can do some damage in the playoffs if they make it?

Joe Morgan: The reason I like the Phils is because they are capable of scoring in bunches. They're not consistent, but they can do it. Everyone is overrating what pitchers do this time of year. It's great to have that, but you have to score to back it up. Look at the Astros. If they were scoring they'd be way out in front in the Wild Cars. So pay more attention to the teams that score runs consistently.

KT: I like the way Joe constantly chides teams for not being able both to score tons of runs AND pitch brilliantly. It's like he doesn't understand that often, with a salary cap and a limited roster and free agency, that it is hard to do either one without sacrificing the other. Also, "Wild Cars" is a good name for a band.

Ryan (Pittsburgh, PA): I know the Yankees have the experience, but I think the combination of great pitching and solid, timely hitting will get the Indians into the postseason. I don't think the experience matters when a team is young and confident like the Tribe is. What do you think?

Joe Morgan: Again, they have as good a chance as anyone, but remember the late-season swoon from last season when they fell apart. Experience does matter, but in this case they have been through it once and learned from it. But like I said a minute ago, they can score and they have some good pitching, so that gives them a good chance. But remember, the teams that streak to get into contention are the first ones to fall out because the percentages eventually catch up to them.

KT: The use of the word "percentages" seems dangerously close to actual statistical analysis here...fortunately for all involved, Joe has no idea what he is talking about. The Marlins streaked into the 2003 playoffs and won it all easily. The Red Sox streaked into the playoffs last year and won it all. (It's not even worth continuing.) Also, lets look at some of the details here:

1. The Indians have as good a chance as anyone.
2. But remember the late-season swoon of last year. (Read: they might flop in September again.)
3. Experience does matter... (So, theoretically, they will not swoon in September again.)
4. ...but in this case, they have been through it once and learned from it. (Why does he start this part with "but?" He is saying, "Experience does matter, but in this case, experience matters.")
5. Any time you start back-to-back sentences with "But," and no one else is writing or talking, you have written poorly.

Brandon (Boston): Do you think that the Red Sox offense can lead them to a repeat? Is Schilling going to be back to his normal self?

Joe Morgan: Boston has an edge not just in terms of hitting, but there's also an energy around that team that is evident in New York. The Sox play much more on emotion than the Yanks and that can carry them for stretches last season and could help them win it again this season.

KT: Why is the Red Sox' "energy" evident in New York?

John (Providence): Joe, how do you like the A's chances of making the playoffs after everyone wrote them off in May? Do you like what Beane has done?

KT: Uh oh.

Joe Morgan: It's inevitable that after the long winning stretch they had that things would fall off because you can't continue to play .800 ball all season. The fact that they bounced back the last two days against Detroit shows they are still in it and the offense is what's going to win games for them. They win games 7-6 or 9-7 and lose when they don't score, so that will be the biggest factor for them, just like every other team in the races.

KT: Phew. I was afraid Joe was going to blow his lid at the very mention of award-winning author and inventor of the computer Billy Beane. Thankfully, all he did was spout nonsense. "The offense is what is going to win games for them." okay...well, the A's as a staff are 5th in all of MLB in ERA, 4th in WHIP, 1st in BAA, and 1st in OPS against. Their offense has been okay -- 8th in MLB in runs, but only 19th in team OPS. So, I'd say, actually, their pitching is winning games for them, so I don't know what evidence Joe is using for the claim that they win a lot of 7-6 or 9-7 games. Seems more like the Red Sox and Yankees, to me. Then comes the brilliant statement that the A's "lose when they don't score," which is not only true of the A's, but also true of every team and individual competing in every sport ever invented. And finally we get, " that will be the biggest factor for them, just like every other team in the races." Which weirdly, is Joe's unwitting admission that he in fact understands that all teams need to score points/runs in order to win. It's like he's arguing with himself.

EDIT: A few hours after I wrote this, the A's won 4-1, and the Red Sox won 9-8. Minimum-possible sample size of one game a piece, but still.

Chris D. (Madison, Wis.): It looks like the White Sox have righted the ship. How important is a solid rotation with the depth they have, Joe?

Joe Morgan: One of the reasons I keep saying that pitching is not the whole issue is because most pitchers have a lot of innings on their arms and will not shut teams down the way they did earlier. Therefore teams have to score to win...

KT: Wow. Again.

Joe Morgan: ...and the Sox were having troubles at the plate recently. I still believe in them, though, because they have more ways to win than most teams and will be even better once Podsednik comes back from injury.

KT: Do you know what Scott Podsednik's IsoP is? .055. That's pathetic. His WARP2 is 3.8. He is incredibly average, if not worse.

Mike G, NYC: David Wright - What's the cieling on this kid? It looks like he still keeps improving

Joe Morgan: I think he's going to be an excellent player because of his attitude and drive to improve. I've talked to him and am impressed with the way he goes about his business. Randolph did a great job of moving him along slowly and not putting him into the RBI slots in the lineup before he was ready.

KT: So, Willie Randolph did a great job by keeping their second best offensive player mired in the 6- or 7-hole while far lesser players were trying to give Cliff Floyd protection? How is that? Seriously, it's like if the White Sox batted Paul Konerko sixth behind Joe Crede and AJ Pierzynski.

Chris, Chicago: Do you believe the Cubs are pretty much finished this season, now with Nomar and Ramirez hurt? Should they just call up Felix Pie, Matt Murton, Ronny Cedeno and Rich Hill now?

Joe Morgan: It's hard in this day and age to throw in the towel and start working toward next season. I don't know if they should do that and I don't think they can.

KT: This is what just went through Joe Morgan's head: "Felix Who? Matt Huh? Ronny Which? Rich Whatnow? Uh oh. Better fire off some crazytalk."

NJ (Miami): Hey Joe, don't you agree that even though the Nats are slipping away this season, the success they are having during their first year only proved that they are going to be contenders in years to come? They are so young and unexperienced, that after one or two years behind their belts, they could be a serious threat to the Braves, Marlins, and Cardinals. I don't see this year being a disappointment, do you?

Joe Morgan: I don't see it as a disappointment. Things are on the right track to be a force in that division, but there's a thin line between being a championship team and being on the periphery. As I said before, they're falling out of the race because they can't score consistently, and they have to address that first and foremost.

KT: The main point to take away from Hall of Fame commentator Joe Morgan here today, kids, is: "You have to score runs to win athletic contests."

Julie (At Work in Bayonne, NJ): Hey Joe - what do you think of Roger Clemens chances at the Cy Young this year? His last 2 starts have been bad, but if he keeps that ERA, I think that he should get it over Carpenter... what do you think?

Joe Morgan: First of all, his last outing wasn't shaky since he lost 2-0. I look at wins first in the Cy Young and then ERA to break a tie...

KT: Oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God.

Joe Morgan: ...At this point I think Carpenter and Dontrelle Willis have a leg up in that category...

KT: You think? "Wins" is a measurable stat. It's also one of the least important stats for a starting ptcher.

Joe Morgan: ...I don't think you can win the Cy Young with 15 or fewer wins and the Astros have to score to get him some wins. They've been shut out seven times in Clemens starts. But as I've said, NO ONE has pitched better than Roger Clemens this season.

KT: Then give him the goddamn Cy Young Award, Joe. Why in the name of fuck should you penalize a guy who, you believe, has pitched better than anyone else, simply because his teammates, with their bats, haven't performed well? I do not understand this. You are so unbelievably stupid when you talk about this issue.

Joe Morgan: I have to get going, but thanks for all the questions. It looks like we might be in for the greatest Wild Card races ever and things in both leagues could turn on one or two players getting hot and carrying a team. I'm looking forward to watching and to talking about it again next week!

KT: (dies of exhaustion)

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posted by Anonymous  # 9:55 PM
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Tuesday, August 23, 2005



...which team this article is written about. I'll give you 3 hints:

1) The author acknowledges that the team in question scores fewer runs per game than last year, but still thinks that the offseason moves relating to hitting were genius.

2) The author insists that the manager is not only a shoo-in for MOY honors, but insists on completing the written handjob to climax: "his vision [for the team] retains its brilliance."

3) It contains this worldview-altering quote from the manager: "This is what any winning team has to do -- put players on the field who will catch the ball."

posted by dak  # 7:01 PM
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What Exactly Does This Guy Want?

At a time when baseball pundits seem to have lost their zeal for publishing wrongheaded baseball opinion pieces, Mike Celizic thankfully summoned all the power of his jaunty fedora to make one of the most idiotic arguments about this year's playoff races. The article's title?

"Baseball's stretch run is going to be boring"

You are truly a poet for the ages, Mike Celizic.

He begins:

"If it weren’t for those damn Yankees, this would be a pretty good stretch run for Major League Baseball. A neck-and-neck battle in the AL West, a jam-packed NL East, scads of teams fighting for the wild cards, with no real favorite.

Instead, I find myself looking at the standings and the teams at the top of the eight playoff races and thinking that there isn’t a great team among them and hoping that no one asks me for a World Series pick, because there just isn’t a clear-cut favorite."

Umm, what? Let me see if I have this right. The playoffs are going to be boring for these three reasons.

1) There are too many teams with a shot at the playoffs (currently about 16).
2) The winner of the World Series is not a foregone conclusion.
3) The Yankees, a team that has made the playoffs for the last 10 seasons, might not make it, even though they are in a three way tie for the AL wild card.

Isn't this the opposite of a boring stretch run? Or does boring mean that over half the teams in the major leagues are going to be busting their asses for the next 50 games to make it to the playoffs, where literally any of them can win?

"I could say the Cardinals [are the favorite], but they have some serious injury issues, and the memory of their collapse in last year’s World Series is too fresh to think of them as prohibitive favorites."

As opposed to the Yankees? Didn't they have something of a collapse last year? It was so long ago I can barely remember!

"There are the White Sox, but this is a team that just showed it can go a week without winning...Besides, they’re the White Sox, who haven’t won a World Series since 1917, and when you’ve gone that long without a title, you can’t be a favorite to win any tournament."

First of all, the length of time since a team's last championship has no bearing on their chances this year. Secondly, isn't this article about why the stretch run is going to be boring? Wouldn't a team with a chance of winning their first title in 88 years make their run less boring? Have I forgotten what boring means?

"Even the wild-card race is tainted by the Yankees. They’re not supposed to be fighting to just slip into the playoffs. And they’re definitely not supposed to be worried about being passed by Oakland and Cleveland.

It’s guilt by association. If the Yankees aren’t great, then nobody else can be, either."

I think I just swallowed my tongue. I am deadly serious when I ask: how can a journalist seriously make this claim and not immediately be fired?

"Baseball is moving in the same direction [as the NFL], the dampers on team payrolls and the additional two playoff spots slowly leveling the playing field and bringing more teams into contention."

The New York Yankees set a record this year with a payroll in excess of 200 million dollars. Only two other teams have payrolls over 100 million dollars. More than half of all baseball teams have payrolls less than 70 million dollars.

"We’ve become so used to having the Yankees as baseball’s all-powerful monster that it’s hard to think of the regular season as a fair fight. Instead of appreciating what we have, we’re consumed by what we don’t have. And we keep imagining that the real Yankees — like the real Mike Tyson — will suddenly emerge and give us the thrill of the massacre again."

Wouldn't most people (and I include many Yankee fans I know in this group) argue that when one team is allowed to spend three times more than most of the other teams in the league, it makes the game less interesting? Yes, it is fun when David beats Goliath, but only because Goliath has spent the better part of a decade kicking David's ass and signing every awesome free agent. And that is not fun to watch.

"Would the Red Sox’s victory last year have been as sweet and memorable if they had not had to go through the Yanks? Would the Angels’ first world title? Would Arizona and Florida have celebrated with the same gusto if they had beaten Cleveland instead of New York."

1) Yes. 2) Yes. 3) Yes (even though there was no question mark at the end of that question).

You could make a case that the Sox title would have been less awesome if they hadn't beat the Yankees, but I think that's only because of the circumstances of their historic comeback in that series. If they had swept the Yanks or beat the Twins in 5, I'm still pretty sure Boston fans would have lost their shit just as hard when they won it all.

"It’s possible that my view of things is warped by being too close to the gravitational field of Yankee Stadium."

It's either that or the fedora. Your guess is as good as mine.

"Elsewhere in America, baseball fans may well be consumed by what their teams might accomplish rather than by what the Yankees might not."

I don't know. I know a lot of Phillies fans who have barely noticed that they're currently in the middle of a dogfight for the NL Wild Card because they just can't take their eyes off this past Yanks-Jays series.

"They’re not a good team anymore, and still they dominate the way we view 30 teams and six months of competition. These are good races we’re watching. But without the damn Yankees leading the way, it’s hard to see them that way. If the Yankees aren’t great, nobody’s great."

I'm going to dispense with the sarcasm and vitriol here for a second, if I may, and make this heartfelt and sincere entreaty to Mike Celizic:

Go fuck yourself.

posted by Murbles  # 10:20 AM
Reader Dubbin writes in with the following:

"This line in particular:

"Would Arizona and Florida have celebrated with the same gusto if they had beaten Cleveland instead of New York?"

It's too bad that there's no empirical way to know the answer to this question. Like, say, a world series where Florida played Cleveland instead of New York, and won that world series, and thus generated a celebration whose "gusto" could be measured.

Jesus, it's like he's so intent on using "Cleveland" as the archetypal boring city that he doesn't even bother to remember that they WERE IN THE WORLD SERIES AGAINST FLORIDA IN 1997. Or to recall that the series went seven games, the last of which went thirteen incredibly exciting innings. Or to mention the fact that people came down on the Marlins so hard for the '98 fire sale precisely because the '97 team was so good, and played so well together, and made a notoriously fickle South Florida audience fill an 80,000-seat football stadium for the duration of the playoffs. Or to express any knowledge that the Marlins' nemesis at that time was not the Yankees (huh?), but the Braves, whom they defeated in an electric six-game NLCS that included Livan Hernandez striking out 15 batters during a game that still makes me sort of misty when I think about it.

Then there's the ensuing celebration, which in 1997 included a mere three parades, Bobby Bonilla starting a car dealership, and my mother very nearly leaving my family for Craig Counsell. Of course, I only had season tickets and attended every home playoff game, so it's possible that I couldn't actually see how boring it all was without Mike Celizic's magic lens of watertight objective sports journalism."
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Sunday, August 21, 2005



I know this isn't misguided sports commentary, but how about newly-annointed genius manager Ozzie Guillen's comments after last night's loss to the Yankees (the ChiSox' 7th in a row)?

From the Sun Times:

"I'm sick and tired about all nine guys,'' Guillen said after a question about third baseman Joe Crede's 0-for-14 slump. "I don't like to criticize my players, but you get sick to your stomach. We're having terrible at-bats, and when you do that, you lose. It's not always easy to get a base hit, but good at-bats, I expect that from everyone.

"It's a shame because the way they [players] shake their heads, it's like they feel sorry for themselves. People should stop feeling sorry for themselves. If you're a baseball player and feel sorry for yourself, you're in the wrong business.''

Guillen feels more sorry for fans.

"Sometimes you get sick of watching the same thing the last two weeks. You're putting my hitting coach and [general manager] Kenny Williams and me at fault. When you struggle, it should be us to blame. But I don't want Greg Walker [hitting coach] and Kenny and my staff to be blamed.''

That's the way to lead, Ozzie! You were the catalyst when they were winning, but in no way are you to blame now, right? Great job. Nicely done.

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posted by Anonymous  # 12:18 PM
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Friday, August 19, 2005


Just One Sentence From Steve Phillips

"This two-headed monster is anything but a monster."

posted by dak  # 9:07 PM
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Best Part of My Week

Buzzmaster: Joe will be here any second!

Ken Tremendous: Yayyyyyyyy!

Joe Morgan: I'm looking forward to today's chat! I'm in San Antonio for a friend's wedding!

KT: Irrelevant!

David: (Lincoln, RI): Hey Joe, I am one of Barry Bond's biggest fans and i constantly get in arguements with my friends that if he played in Yankee stadium as the DH over a full season he could hit 100 hrs. With that short right field porch and say having sheff and arod batting behind him don't you have to pitch to him? Whats your opinion on this? Thanks Joe

Joe Morgan: Three years ago he would have hit 60 or 70 home runs. At this point in his career, he would probably hit around 40 in that scenario.

KT: Brilliant analysis. Four years ago he hit 73, and for the last three years he's averaged about 44. So, you are saying...nothing. A better answer might have been: hitting 100 home runs in a season is insane and impossible, in any stadium. Or that, yes, he might be better off as a DH in an American league home park, though he has repeatedly said he does not want to be. Or anything that is not just...the thing that is.

Kerry Wood (Wrigley Field): How did I look live out of the pen on Sunday night versus the Cardinals? I was throwing some nasty stuff, huh?

Joe Morgan: Coming in for one inning, Wood can look good as long as he throws a few strikes. When I watched him Sunday night, he looked great. But we'll just have to see how he handles it on a more daily basis.

KT: Classic no-answer. Also, anyone can look good as long as he throws a few strikes, if those strikes are not hit by the batter. That's meaningless.

Cubs Fan: Joe, Are you surprised at how well Nomar has hit since his return? Is he now past the adrenaline phase and can he keep up the pace for the rest of the year?

KT: Pay close attention to Joe's answer here.

Joe Morgan: I am surprised. But I said he would swing well the first week because of all the adrenaline of coming back. But it looks like he's getting his timing down pretty well, so I am surprised. But he's a special player so it's not too surprising.

KT: That is gosh darn poetry. Are you surprised at how well Nomar has hit since his return? I am surprised. Is he now past the adrenaline phase? I said he would swing well because of all the adrenaline (i.e., I am not surprised). Can he keep up the pace for the rest of the year? It looks like he's getting his timing down pretty well, so I am surprised. He's a special player, so I am not surprised. Joe Morgan contradicted himself three times in one answer.

anthony,Kansas City, MO: Will the royals ever win again?

Joe Morgan: When things start going downhill, it's hard to stop that momentum. You go to the park expecting to lose unlike the better teams who expect to win. I don't think they are nearly as bad a team as they look right now.

KT: So...yes, they will win? When? How? Where? Why? Which? Who?

Mike (Hope, Arkansas): Are catchers just better at throwing out runners in today's game or have the base stealers really become worse?

Joe Morgan: Catchers haven't gotten better. The real thing is nobody works at it anymore. It's just not part of their game. They don't work at reading pitchers. They just take off when they want to take off.

KT: "They just take off when they want to take off?" Is that the problem? I don't think that's the problem. I think the correct answer is: many teams have wised up and realized that stolen bases aren't really worth the risk, so they have deemphasized that skill in their systems in favor of plate discipline, and as such have been able to score more runs. Thanks for playing.

Scott: Is Felix Hernandez the best pitching prospect you've seen in his teenage years?

Joe Morgan: You can't help but be impressed by him. You want guys to have success right away so his attitude will stay positive. I'm just impressed with how he has handled himself. He will be a very good pitcher.

KT: So...he is?

Patrick O'Brien--NJ: Mr. Morgan, In your book Long Balls, No Strikes you open up describing the Summer of 1998 as the year baseball came out of its coma. This was the year Sosa and McGwire chased Maris' 61 homers. You describe Sosa and McGwire as heroes and even stated.."They gave us a chance to celebrate genuine accomplishment." (Pg3) Have your opinions since then changed amid steroid allegations and the use of a corked bat? Wouldn't it be safe to say that summer was the start of a dark period for baseball, a period where alot of players stats will now be questioned?

Joe Morgan: When I wrote the book, everyone thought it was a great year. To be blunt, I still think it's great. Baseball needed a year like that. Now, I guess to be honest the past is the past. I've put it behind me. The think that bothers me is the present, knowing guys are still being caught using steroids. But even knowing what I know now, it was still a great year in baseball.

KT: I, for one, am glad Joe has put it behind him. By that, I guess, he means that he is choosing to ignore it, since he has never publicly (that I am aware of) chastized the players involved for their steroid use. But at least he can sleep at night knowing that as a prominent baseball analyst and commentator, he has done everything he can (nothing) to deal with the past.

Ian (MacLean, GA): What is the hardest pitch to hit in baseball? Also, is Clemens on steroids?

KT: Hilarious sneak-attack question. Love it.

Joe Morgan: I haven't heard any rumors about Clemens. [...]

KT: Really? Because everyone else in the universe has. I mean, everyone. Do you still cover baseball? It's on the ESPN homepage right now. It's in every chatroom and website about baseball. Why don't you just turn on your computer and...oh. Right. Sorry. Continue.

d (st. louis): Can you give Peter Angelos a few recommendations before he hires his next manager?

Joe Morgan: I think he needs someone who is more respected in the game. Nothing was wrong with hiring Mazzilli at the time but moving forward, I think they need someone who is just more respected around baseball.

KT: Respect is the issue? Maybe it is. I don't know how much Lee Mazzilli was respected. But maybe, how about getting somebody good?

Travis (Indy) : What about a good change-up?

Joe Morgan: A lot of pitches are tough to hit .. a change-up is only difficult in the proper location. When you are pitching to your kid, you pitch underhand so he has time to hit. You don't throw straight and hard. A change up in the middle of the plate will get hit.

KT: So will a fastball in the middle of the plate, a slider in the middle of the plate, a curve in the middle of the plate, a knuckleball in the middle of the plate, and a foshball in the middle of the plate. Remember Mike Boddiker's "Vulcan" pitch? If it were thrown in the middle of the plate, it would be hit.

Mark (Rutherford, NJ): What are your thoughts on how managers deal with their pitchers these days? Isn't it frustrating to see starters get pulled from a game that where they are pitching well just based on the fact they have thrown 100 pitches? Every playoff team right now has to question if their bullpens are overworked, wouldnt it make sense to get more out of starters and avoid this situation? It is killing me watching the yankees right now, Torre pulls his starters only to watch the bullpen collapse night after night!

Joe Morgan: Very good question. I agree 100 percent. Managers protect themselves. If they take somebody out in the seventh and the reliever doesnt' do his job, it's not his fault. He can say he's doing what everyone else is doing. The bullpen is a security blanket for the manager and they're using it.

KT: That's insane, Joe. Managers are killed routinely for not yanking guys at the right time. They are also killed for yanking them too early. Come on. You're not even trying anymore.

Peter (Albany NY): Joe, what's the most important function of a manager? Managing egos or handling a pitching staff?

Joe Morgan: Another great question. People assume the manager's job is to take pitchers in and out. But the most important is getting every player pointed in the same direction. Making sure every player puts the first. That's easier said than done. It's' about preparation and dealing with these issues over a long season.

KT: [sic] [sic] [sic] [sic]

Hogcard (St. Louis, Mo.): Joe: As of right now, who's your choice for the N.L. Cy Young award, Carpenter or Clemens?

Joe Morgan: Well, it's difficult. Nobody has pitched better than Clemens.

KT: Then give it to Clemens. No need to continue. What? You want to continue?

Joe Morgan: Carpenter has had better support from his team.

KT: Irrelevant. So, Clemens, then? What? You want to keep talking?

Joe Morgan: But don't forget Dontrelle has more shutouts and is only one win behind Carpenter.

KT: So...Dontrelle? Or...oh, sorry. You weren't finished.

Joe Morgan: No one has pitched better than Clemens though.

KT: So, I was right the first time. Great work.

TJ (Los Angeles, CA): Do you think that anybody was doing steroids during your era Joe?

Joe Morgan: No. The reason is they just weren't aware those things could help you. Same reason players didn't really lift weights before my era. They just didn't think it would help them.

KT: I will give anybody who reads this five hundred dollars for proof that somebody on the 1975 Reds did steroids, or anything of the kind. Go.

Peter (Sudbury, MA): Joe, what's behind the A's surge in the second half?

Joe Morgan: I think it's been the offense. Everyone talks about the pitchers, but they were next to last in runs scored when they started the streak and they have moved up in that category.

KT: Fine analysis. They scored more runs. My finacee could have told you that. (Hi, honey!)

Phil(grand rapids, MI): Joe, do you think the BoSox have what it takes to win it all again

Joe Morgan: I think they can win it all again. Every team that was in the playoffs last year is not as good this year, with the exception of St. Louis. Boston lost Pedro and don't have Schilling in the rotation. Every team except St. Louis is consideraby weaker this year. So Boston could still win but it all depends who gets hot on Oct. 1. Any team in the playoffs can win it all. Any team. Don't forget that.

KT: I won't, because, um, it's always true.

Joe Morgan: Sorry to have to cut it short but my friend Jack Carroll is getting married tomorrow and we're having a bachelor party here at LaCantera in San Antonio. 16 guys playing golf! I enjoyed all the great questions again this week. I'll be back next Friday (on schedule) for more! Take care!

KT: I will give anyone who reads this five hundred dollars if (s)he crashes Jack Carroll's bachelor party and pantses Joe Morgan. Go.

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posted by Anonymous  # 5:06 PM
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Thursday, August 18, 2005


John Donovan of CNNSI... talking about Jeff Francoeur.

Francoeur is one of those rare hitters who's a free swinger yet not considered a complete hacker. He simply doesn't stick around at the plate long enough to strike out. Francoeur has whiffed only 19 times so far. That doesn't put him anywhere near someone like the Reds' Adam Dunn, a July call-up in 2001 who hit 19 homers and drove in 38 runs while striking out 74 times in 244 at-bats. Dunn set a major league record last season, whiffing 195 times.

Jeff Francoeur is awesome. I love him. The story of the 2005 Atlanta Braves is my favorite in baseball this year. But come on. How many times have we seen this? Jeff Francoeur has 105 ML at-bats, and he hasn't walked once. Eventually, the league will learn how to pitch to him, and if he doesn't adjust and start walking and being more selective, his numbers will drop precipitously. I promise. If not this year, then next. And to take this swipe at Adam Dunn...well, who would you rather have on your team? A 25 year-old guy with several years' experience and a .909 lifetime OPS, or a 21 year-old rookie with 105 great at-bats?

For the overwhelming majority of situations in baseball, strike-outs are the same as fly-outs, are the same as ground-outs, are the same as pop-outs, are the same as foul-outs. They are outs. They are bad. What are not outs are walks, which are good. Adam Dunn walks 100 times a year. Adam Dunn's OBP is .394. Jeff Francoeur's is .389, because he is hitting .373 and has been hit by three pitches. Check back in a month or two, Mr. Donovan, and let's compare these stats again.


posted by Anonymous  # 2:10 PM
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Postseason Pressure

One of my favorite myths, promulgated by the likes of our own Joe Morgan, is that of "Postseason Pressure." The conventional wisdom is, a team comprised of "untested-in-the-postseason" players is more likely to fall apart in October, because, as we all know, professional athletes are nervous wrecks who flail around like newborn gerbils under the glare of a spotlight. Check out excerpts from Joe's recent column on how the '05 Playoff Field is weaker than in years past:

With the exception of the St. Louis Cardinals, none of the teams that made the playoffs last year is as strong this year. The defending champion Boston Red Sox miss Pedro Martinez and a healthy Curt Schilling anchoring the top of the rotation. The New York Yankees don't even know who their top starters are; offseason pickup Randy Johnson (11-7, 4.22 ERA) hasn't been the Cy Young-caliber pitcher we're accustomed to seeing. The A's have a good rotation, but some of their young starters haven't experienced postseason pressure (Rich Harden is as good as any starter in the league, though).

Now, I agree with the first two points. The Red Sox badly lack a stopper, and if the Yankees make the playoffs, it's anybody's guess how their pitchers hold up. But do we really think the A's pitching staff is going to fall to pieces? Barry Zito studies meditation and seems impervious to pressure. Also, if Joe searched his memory banks for just one second, or perhaps deigned to do some actual research, he might remember/learn that Zito in the postseason is 3-2, 2.76, giving up just 23 hits in 32.2 IP. So, he has experienced postseason pressure, and has flourished. Rich Harden is an absolute bulldog, who might be considered the best #1 postseason starter in the league outside of Buerhle or Garland. Danny Haren pitched in all three levels of the playoffs last year, giving up just 2 ER in 8.1 IP with 7K's. He was the only Cardinal pitcher to shut down the Sox' lineup. So, overall, Joe, two of the A's three best starters have stellar postseason records, and the third, Harden, is so awesome it probably couldn't matter less. (And he does have a little postseason experience, throwing a couple innings in the 2003 ALDS against the Red Sox as a rook. Neither here nor there.) Blanton and Saarloos are "untested," but every staff has a few guys who are "untested," and I'd take the A's pitching staff over just about anybody's right now in a five-game series.

By the way, the White Sox starters have just as little experience. Buerhle threw 1/3 of an inning in the 2000 ALDS. Garland has never been. Jose Contreras has been awful in 8 games: 0-2, 11 H in 11 IP, 7 ER and 7 BB with a 5.73 ERA. El Duque, of course, has been otherworldly, with a 9-3 record in 17 games, but this October 11 he will turn 140 years old. Freddy Garcia has some experience, and has been decent -- 3-2, 3.71 in six starts, 36 H and 14 BB in 34 IP, but it's been five years since the 2000 ALCS when he beat the Yanks twice, and he wasn't nearly as good in 2001.

The point of all of this is, there is scant evdence that postseason experience is a huge plus for a pitching staff. If it were that important, the Braves would have won more than one WS in the last 13 years. And furthermore, to suggest that this mythological advantage will affect the A's more than any other team is simply not supported by something we call "facts."

I didn't anticipate the Yankees' pitching woes this season. Johnson has been so dominant, and I expected him to continue to dominate, even at age 41. I also expected more from Mike Mussina. I though Carl Pavano would pitch well. And to be honest, I didn't even factor Jaret Wright in because of his injury problems in recent years. The Yankees made two offseason mistakes: They should have kept Jon Lieber and Orlando Hernandez.

Well, okay. Johnson has been a bit of a surprise with his mediocre (by his standards) pitching. Mussina, we have seen in the last two years, is on the decline. Why you thought Carl Pavano would pitch well is anybody's guess -- he was a career .500 (roughly) pitcher who'd had one good year in an extreme pitcher's park in the NL, and he strikes out less than 6/9 IP, and the Yankees have a terrible defense. Also, was keeping Lieber really a good idea? He has given up 173 H in 156 IP this year with only 102 K's. His WHIP is an average 1.30 (I know you think that is "outstanding," Joe, but it's not) and he has a 4.85 ERA. Some of that can certainly be attributed to playing in a ballpark the size of a Denny's, but not all of it. The guy has amazing control, and he's fairly durable, but he doesn't fool anybody. The Yanks had an $8 million option on him, I think, which is a lot to pay for a 35 year-old guy who had a three-year ERA+ of 108. Keeping El Duque might have pleased the fans in New York, but, again, he is a thousand years old. The Yankees have made a lot of front-office mistakes recently, but I think Lieber/Duque or Pavano/Wright is a wash. Until you factor in the money they spent on those guys, which, admittedly, is crazy, so okay, fine, it was a mistake. I just don't think you think it's a mistake for the same reasons I think it's a mistake, because you refuse to do research.

Meanwhile, any contender can win the AL pennant. If you make the playoffs, you have as good a chance at getting to the World Series as anyone else. The Chicago White Sox, with the best record in baseball, will be the statistical favorite in the AL, but they haven't been to the playoffs in a while so they're untested in the postseason.

The 2003 Marlins. The 2002 Angels. The 2001 Diamondbacks. The 1997 Marlins. There are 4 teams in the last 9 years who had never been to the postseason (with their core line-ups), yet still managed to win the World Series.

The way I see it now, the Angels will win the AL West and the A's will win the wild card. As things stand, I don't think the Yankees will make the playoffs. They have a better chance of catching Boston than winning the wild card, although I don't think that's likely (I believe Boston will win the AL East). Of course, it depends not only on who gets hot but also on who stays healthy down the stretch.

The last sentence is not helpful.

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posted by Anonymous  # 1:05 PM
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Monday, August 15, 2005


Do NOT Try to Sneak Cheese By Him!

Tiger's announcer Rod Allen (whom I usually like, by the by), after Omar Infante hit a two-run double off Bronson Arroyo:

"Omar Infante does not miss fastballs."

Infante, in his 1000+AB career: .251/.299/.393/.692.


posted by Anonymous  # 7:45 PM
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Friday, August 12, 2005


Joe Will be Here Momentarily

Buzzmaster: Hellooooooo! Joe will be here momentarily!

Ken Tremendous: Fantastic.

Joe Morgan: Hello! I'm looking forward to your questions today! I'm on the way to the airpot so I might have to cut it a little short today. I'm heading to the Cubs-Cardinals game.

KT: What's an "airpot?"

Scott Ziegler (Madison,WI): Joe was that the worst collision you've ever seen, Beltran and Cameron. That could have been alot worse.

Joe Morgan: Yeah, that's one of the worst I have seen. I saw one with Jesus Alou and a SS whose name I can't remember. The SS swallowed his tongue. That was pretty scary.

KT: I'm sure no-name SS who swallowed his tongue is honored by your memory of this event. It kind of sounds like a weird fairy tale Joe made up. "Jesus made a guy swallow his tongue once."

Ben (NY): I hate to bring this issue up again but... There are rumors everywhere that MLB will announce positive tests for 2 more players (described as bigger than Palmerio). My question is how do you stop the rumors from flying, If the public is even hearing rumors (for whatever they are worth) it is still distracting the fans from the game, and we've learned that most times when there's smoke there's fire.

Joe Morgan: The rumors are caused because if there is an appeals process before the announcement, things leak out. The Palmeiro thing, they said he tested positive in May I believe it was...

KT: The rumors are caused "because if there is an appeals process before the announcement, things leak out?" Did anyone even have a whiff of Palmeiro's positive for all that time? How about, "The rumors are caused by several players actually testing positive?"

Dan (Custer, MI): Joe given the way inflation has gone up over the years. How its effected contracts of players today. Does it ever make you wonder what kinda money you'd be playing for today?

Joe Morgan: I don't think about it. I'm very happy with the time I played. In my mind, I played during the greatest era of baseball. The 60s, 70s and 80s have the most HOFs than any other time. I didn't play the game for money. I got to play against Mays, Koufax, Gibson, Aaron, Frank Robinson, Clemente .. I got to play against all those great players in their prime and money can't buy that.

KT: I kind of admire you for saying this. However, "the 60's, 70's, and 80's have the most HOF than any other time," besides not being a sentence, is meaningless. You mean they have more HOF players than any other...three decades? Three contiuous decades? Also, maybe the 90's doesn't have as many because a lot of them are still playing? Maybe? Joe?

Andy (OH): Joe, when a team like the Cubs, with so much talent, bombs out like they are, how long before drastic changes need to be made?

Joe Morgan: I would think they would have to change their direction. They have put all their eggs on Prior and Wood. They have to go in a different direction.

KT: Here is a short play I have written:

(Scene: Cubs' clubhouse after a tough loss. Kerry Wood and Mark Prior stand at their lockers.)
Reporter: Guys, what do you think is causing this slump? Is it the terrible hitting? Is it the bad contracts? Is it that Dusty Baker is an awful, awful manager? Is it the poor defense? Is it the injuries?
Kerry Wood: No, it's none of those things.
Reporter: Then what is it?
(Mark Prior points to his and Kerry Wood's heads. There are eggs on them.)
Mark Prior: The team has put all of these eggs on us. Makes it hard to pitch.
(Flourish. Exeunt. Curtain.)

Brian (Philly): Joe, football question - What the heck would you do with a player like TO in your clubhouse?

Joe Morgan: First of all, he's not 100 percent wrong but he is wrong a lot of the time. It's something you have to deal with. Football is a little different from baseball in the approach to hold outs. Baseball contracts are guaranteed. A lot has been made of T.O's 7-year, $49 million contract. But it's not guaranteed. Philly could drop him and stop paying him. In baseball, once you sign the dotted line, you are obligated. Just because you sign a $49 million dollar contract doesn't mean you are getting $49 million.

KT: Well, okay...but he sure was, barring injury. This is not a Hines Ward situation. He played one year, held out, came back, refused to speak to his teammates, screamed at his coach, and got sent home. That sounds like "100% wrong" to me. On a side note, how come Joe Morgan, who incessantly talks about teams and team play and being a good teammate, continues to stick up for Gary Sheffield and now T.O., the two most selfish, me-first athletes in all of sports?

Bernie Williams: Where am I playing next year? How much for?

Joe Morgan: I think Williams will find another home but there might not be a lot of good places for him to go.

KT: A nice, classic, "refuse to answer the question" moment from Joe here. Acceptable answers would have been: any MLB team. Best answer: he takes a pay cut to stay in NY. The end.

Ted(New York): Can the Cleveland Indians keep it up, and make a strong push for the playoffs?

Joe Morgan: I think the Indians will continue to play well, as they did last year in the second half, but the A's are playing so well they will either win the division or the Wild Card.

KT: And...if they win the division, can the Indians win the wild card? Joe? Are you there?

Ariel: How good can David Wright become?

Joe Morgan: I don't think anyone can predict. It depends how much he wants to learn and improve. But I've talked to him and he has a great mindset. He has so much ability, it's just a matter of continuing to grow and progress. He's a very very good player.

KT: Why does Joe Morgan flat-out refuse to answer questions sometimes? He is constantly saying things like "there's no way to tell" and "I wasn't there, so I don't know" and "no one can predict". I think we all know that it is impossible actually to predict the future. We know you are not an augurer, Joe. We know you are not Tiresius. It's okay to offer your opinion. I am go goddamn tired of writing these words.

Jesh (Charlotte): Greg Maddux got complete game 106 yesterday. Will another pitcher ever get into the triple digits?

Joe Morgan: I don't know where some guys are in terms of complete games, but as for young players, I would say no. The game has just changed completely in terms of that stat.

KT: I timed myself. From the moment I read this question, I was able to get this information...


Roger Clemens 117

Greg Maddux 106

Randy Johnson 92

Curt Schilling 82

Kevin Brown 72

Mike Mussina 54 21 seconds. So, the answer is: Johnson maybe, Schilling maybe, Brown no, Mussina almost definitely not. Twenty-one seconds, Joe. You should use one of those computers that the Oakland A's invented to calculate OBP, which they also invented. A computer helps you answer questions about baseball, which is a computer game the Oakland A's invented.

Doug (Fairfax, CA): Should Ken Macha get serious consideration for manager of the year? What Bobby Cox has done is great but it can be argued that what Macha has done is better, not to mention the fact that he's always overshadowed by Billy Beane.

Joe Morgan: You're pretty smart, Doug. It seems when the A's play well, it's Billy Beane. When they don't, it's Macha. Macha kep the ship afloat when they were so far under .500. He kept them pointed in the right direction. Last year, someone asked how I could say Macha was doing a great job when it was Beane who got him the players. The manager is the one who handles the players and that's where the job gets done on a day to day basis.

KT: I just had a stroke. In reality, where, admittedly, Joe does not live, if you listen to the press, when the A's don't play well, it's beacause Billy Beane's cockamamie philosophy has finally bitten them in the ass. When they do play well, Macha is doing a great job. In reality, Beane is a genius, who took it on the chin for the Mulder deal when that has without question kept them alive this year. And Macha is straight-up a pretty good manager, who wasn't bad when they were losing and isn't a genius now that they're winning.

Michael (NJ): Joe, If you were able to play today, what three stadiums would you most like to play in on a regular basis (forget how good or bad the team is, answer strictly on the stadium and the field). Thanks.

Joe Morgan: Probably Minute Maid Park. It seems to be the easiest to hit the ball out of down both lines.

KT: Great. Now just name the other two, and you have answered the question.

Teddy (NYC): If you could ask Bud Selig or Bob Dupuy one thing about their handling of the steroid issue, what would it be?

Joe Morgan: Whatever happened to the power the commissioner had that he could make decisions in the best interests of the game which would allow him to do more in terms of the steroid controversy?

KT: That is amazing. Your one question to the commissioner about the steroid issue is whatever happened to the power of the commissioner to deal with the steroid issue. Also, still waiting for those two other parks.

Joe Morgan: I loved your questions again this week .. you are asking more and more ''baseball'' questions which is great.

KT: Yeah. It's about time people started asking "baseball" questions in a "baseball" chat with a former "baseball" player turned "baseball" analyst. Good work, Joe!

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posted by Anonymous  # 12:49 PM
I can't wait to see how many people find this post by doing a google search for "Joe Morgan+augurer."
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Thursday, August 11, 2005


Excellent Research by FJM Readers Proves John Kruk to Be A Complete Liar

Let's go back for a second:
Here's what John Kruk wrote, earlier excerpted in a post by Murbles:
"I remember a game against the San Diego Padres when I played for the Phillies that went into extra innings. Padres' hitter extraordinaire Tony Gwynn had a reputation for letting the first pitch always go by him, but every once in a while he'd take a hack just to keep a pitcher honest. Before we went back into the field I told the pitcher that Gwynn might be looking to take a big swing if it was a fastball. The pitcher ignored me and Gwynn stepped up and hit a bomb that ended up winning the Padres the game."

Two of our readers wrote in, on a hunch that Kruk's frontal lobes have been encrusted with too many chocolate covered (with sprinkles) donuts to remember this accurately. Neither of them mentioned the donuts. But both were right.

It turns out that this simply never happened. Tony Gwynn never hit a home run against the Phillies in extra innings, when John Kruk was playing first base. John Kruk is a liar.

Here's a fantastic spreadsheet supplied by reader Craig M. (you'll need excel):

As Craig and Adam D. both note (Adam using some hot retrosheet action), the closest we can give him credit for is a game in '92 when Gwynn went yard in the 7th, driving in the winning run.

For those interested, here's a deeper look into Adam's research. His words, with a little editing on my part:


Here are the box scores and play by play of every Phillies game during Kruk's tenure with the team:

1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989

Only once did the Padres beat the Phillies in extra innings while Kruk was on the team. Note that Gwynn was removed from the game prior to the additional frames.

Giving JK the benefit of the doubt, here are the games where Gwynn hit a bomb (assuming that's inside lingo for a home run) when the Padres beat the Phillies:

Gwynn homered in the fifth inning of a 5-1 Padres victory

Gwynn homered in the seventh inning of a 6-5 Padres victory. The home run was against Curt Schilling and put the Padres up 5-4.

Gwynn hits a two run homer in a 5-run seventh inning as the Padres win 5-0.

Gwynn homered in the sixth inning of an 8-2 Padres win

Gwynn home run in the first inning of an 8-3 Padres win.

To be honest, I was rooting for JK to have completely made up that story. I'm afraid I can't come to that conclusion. He certainly got the extra innings part of his very relevant antecdote wrong, but that might not be enough to electronically serve him. The Schilling game in 1992 looks like his unattractive saving grace.


Huge thanks to Adam and Craig for their work.

posted by dak  # 5:52 PM
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Dibs for U.S. Senate

This is a true story: I saw that Rob Dibble had written a new column for, and I literally jammed my fingers trying to cut and paste it into this blog as fast as I could. I type this with my left index finger soaking in a plastic cup full of ice water:

When Congress wanted to hold hearings on steroids I was amazed. Don't we have bigger problems in this country? I had just been to Iraq six months earlier and found out there is a giant war going on. And when I was a player with the Cincinnati Reds, my teammates and I helped raise money for the homeless.

>>You didn't know there was a war in Iraq...until you went to Iraq? Were you headed there on a vacation? And what in the world does the second sentence have to do with the first?

Just examples of the far more pressing questions in this country than why does Rafael Palmeiro use steroids, or why did any of the eight out of the 1,200 major-league roster players get caught using a banned substance?

>>I used a computer to decipher the grammatical structure of this sentence, and can officially report: it is dumb. At the time Congress intervened, Palmeiro hadn't tested positive, nor had most of the eight players he references. (I'm kind of making his point for him, but oh well.)

Let me get this straight, one more time, baseball is the root of all the problems in America?

>>Yes. That's the lesson to be learned by Congressional intervention. That baseball is the root of all the problems in America. That's what all the congressmen said when they had the hearings. "Mr. Selig, you are here because baseball is the root of all the problems in America." "I understand, Senator, and I am sorry. Sorry for the crime, sorry for the poverty, and especially sorry for WorldCom and Qwest."

If I take 1,200 policemen, 1,200 firemen, 1,200 doctors, 1,200 politicians and 1,200 airline pilots, how many of them do you think would test positive for a banned substance? Yeah you got it, more then baseball. So why is it when baseball has a problem it's more important to clean it up than the rest of the country? I can't figure that one out either.

>>Um...okay. Where do I is a product, not a service, so that makes his policemen and firemen analogy moot. Baseball has antitrust exemption. Baseball is televised. Baseball is intricately woven into the fabric of the country, as a pasttime and as a product. Kids don't play "politics" when they are young, nor do they look up to politicians, nor are they influenced by their behavior in the same way. Also, the "drugs" in question for baseball are performance enhancing drugs. They are cheating drugs, not recreational drugs. If doctors, for example, were able to take illegal drugs that made them better doctors, and gave Americans an inflated view of their abilities, we would have to clean that up, too. Dibs: pay close attention: this is an apple. That is an orange.

I was driving into work today and heard this bleeding-heart writer on a radio show. He said, "If I ever have children, and maybe one is a boy, and 20 years from now, if we are at a ballgame, and someone hits a pitch out of the ballpark and he asks me who hit the most home runs ever? Well, if it's a steroid user, or a rumored user, how will I explain to him what has happened to our game? The cheaters have taken that away from us."

Are you freaking kidding me?

>>I'm guessing he wasn't. It's a little melodramatic, but I, for one, have had my love of Bonds, Palmeiro, Giambi, and others, dulled pretty significantly.

I almost crashed my truck.

>>Man. We were so close.

I am a father of two children and I do get asked way tougher questions everyday. Like "Dad, why is that man living on the street? Dad, why are all those men and woman dying in Iraq?"

>>Oh my God. Rob Dibble is lecturing me on homelessness and war. What concentric circle of hell is this?

I'm sorry I got political on you, but let's get serious.

>>This is amazing. "I'm sorry I got political on you, but let's get serious." Dibs just let his deep wellspring of emotions about homelessness and war overtake him...he is a slave to his heart, and his soul...he sometimes stares up at the sky and writes in his journal...he has a tattoo of Ichiro's name on his ass...he freaking *cares*.

Baseball is a game, it's not a social issue. I played it, I should know. AIDS, cancer, war ... these are social issues, and of far greater importance than Major League Baseball.

>>Okay. Okay. I'm literally shaking with anger. How do I explain this? No one -- not ever, once, anywhere -- has ever suggested that AIDS, cancer, and war are less serious issues than baseball. Everyone in the universe with half a brain knows that AIDS, cancer, and war are more important issues than baseball. That does not necessarily mean that congress should not try to do something about the drug problem in baseball. Congress can walk and chew gum at the same time. You could say, perhaps, that not nearly enough is being done to combat AIDS, or cancer, or war, and I would probably agree with you. But you are ascribing attributes to this congressional intervention that do not exist. And frankly, as a fan of baseball, and as someone who believes that baseball is -- despite being a game -- somewhat important to the fabric of this country, and seeing as baseball did absolutely nothing to police itself in these matters, and seeing as congress has given baseball an antitrust exemption, and seeing as baseball is a business that conductes itself nationwide, giving congress the right to regulate certain aspects of its business, I think it wholeheartedly appropriate that congress took a few days to whip this sport into shape.

Can we all just wake up, and stop crying about baseball and stop trying to fix the world through baseball? Enjoy the game, it's a distraction, it's entertainment. But I don't think it will cure cancer; I should know, my father died from cancer.

>>I honestly don't even know where to begin here. Rob Dibble is trying to guilt me into agreeing with him because his father died of cancer? That is horrific and disgusting. Not to mention the fact that it apparently hasn't occurred to him that some people enjoy the game less when they know that the players are cheating. Nobody is trying to "fix the world through baseball." "But I don't think it will cure cancer?!?!?!?" What the fuck is he talking about?

To me it's simple, let baseball clean up its own act or else. And let the government clean up the country.

>>Baseball adamantly refused to clean up its act. And as far as the "or else" goes -- or else what, you numbskull? Or else what?! What is the threat? Or won't? The "or else" is: THE FUCKING GOVERNMENT WILL CLEAN IT UP FOR THEM.

I seriously think Rob Dibble is the worst writer I have ever read, on any subject.

Labels: ,

posted by Anonymous  # 4:58 PM
I feel like this only supports my theory that Rob Dibble used steroids.
Loyal readers:
One American dollar goes out to the first person who can provide an excel spreadsheet proving that Rob Dibble's father did not die of cancer.
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ESPN SportsNation Poll

What is the most overrated stat in baseball?


I struggled with the answer, between BA and RBI. Although they are both overvalued, I voted BA, since people think there is a massive difference between .279 and .301, which is silly and stupid. So, what does America think?

With 10,530 votes so far, America thinks the most overrated stat in baseball is...

Slugging percentage.

And it's not even close. 44% say SLG.

The second most overrated stat? Home runs. (HOME RUNS!) 24%.

Third? BA, but only 3 percentage points more than OBP, 13% to 10%. RBI, apparently, is the LEAST overrated stat, with only 8% of America's votes.

Gentlemen, we have a lot of work to do.

By the way, it's fun to roll your mouse over various states and see which are the dumbest. Some of them have absurdly small sample sizes, but given the way the whole country is voting, it's fair to say that they are not super out-of-whack on a state-by-state basis.


posted by Anonymous  # 2:19 PM
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Doing John Kruk's Research For Him, Vol. XXXVII

John Kruk has some ideas regarding Oakland's recent success. This should be good.

Kruk notes that he's glad the steroids controversy is dying down because:

"I'd much rather talk about the wild-card races and the great job the Oakland Athletics and manager Ken Macha have done in the past few months. Macha has this team working on all cylinders..."

Okay, nothing against Ken Macha, but where is the evidence that he's doing anything differently than he was in May? And also, how can you possibly talk about the A's going on a crazy second half run for like the 20th year in a row, with a lineup full of 24 year olds, and not mention Billy Beane even once? I seem to remember a lot of baseball pundits talking about how the "Moneyball" approach doesn't work without Hudson and Mulder; shouldn't those same pundits give the guy a little credit? I'm not saying Billy Beane is the sole reason for the A's being awesome, but attributing their success to Ken Macha is like eating a delicious meal and giving all the credit to the waiter.

"Also, the Athletics' hitters seem to be getting more aggressive when they are at bat...The rumor that I've heard is that Macha is encouraging his hitters to be more aggressive, making pitchers have to guess more in terms of their pitches. Over the years, pitchers have been able to get ahead in the count because they know they can get a pitch in the strike zone early without fear of the batter swinging. Now they have to start working a little harder earlier in the count."

>>First of all, I recognize oblique criticism of the OBP-centric approach when I see it. It's like these guys are so desperate to discredit this style of play that they'll latch on to anything, even an unsubstantiated rumor. And speaking of rumors, you know what I do when I hear one? I try to find out whether or not it's true. Weird, I know, but that's how I play it, friend. You know what's even weirder? Sometimes I use statistics to support my arguments.

Oakland A's P/PA
April 3.86
May 3.86
June 3.83
July 3.89
August 3.76

More aggressive, huh? It sure wouldn't seem that way, aside from the 9 games they've played in August. But forget about the numbers, Krukie. Tell me a story!

"If the rumor is true, it's a brilliant move by Macha because pitchers can get lazy and think that hitters are just automatons sometimes. I remember a game against the San Diego Padres when I played for the Phillies that went into extra innings. Padres' hitter extraordinaire Tony Gwynn had a reputation for letting the first pitch always go by him, but every once in a while he'd take a hack just to keep a pitcher honest. Before we went back into the field I told the pitcher that Gwynn might be looking to take a big swing if it was a fastball. The pitcher ignored me and Gwynn stepped up and hit a bomb that ended up winning the Padres the game."

Oh my god, you're right! Ken Macha must have seen that at-bat, shown it to all of his players, and told them "See? This Pads-Phillies game from 1994 is the reason you've gotta stop trying to get on base all the time! What more evidence do you need?"

By the way, this is how I imagine that conversation between Kruk and that pitcher.

"Hey. HEY! Tonnny Gwynn's gonna swing atta fassball."
"Jesus, John. You're sweating pretty bad."
"He's gonna sssswing attit!"
"Are you drunk?"
"I'm gonna sw...Tonygwynnns gonna swing atta fassball!"
"Where is your jersey? C'mon. I'll help you find it."
"I gotta lie down."

posted by Murbles  # 11:45 AM
Again, I would love to hear just one analyst say: "You know what probably accounts for the A's recent success? All their guys who were injured got healthy, and Eric Chavez started hitting."
If a team's performance were as tied to managerial aptitude as analysts would have us believe, then why has Ken Macha been one of the worst managers in April and May over the past three seasons? Macha then somehow convinces his team to play harder, swing earlier, or whatever fake reason you come up with to spur on the A's annual playoff push? Kruk, Steve Phillips, and Joe Morgan have all been quick to praise Macha for the A's turnaround. A confederacy of dunces rallying against Beane if there ever were one.
Remember in "Moneyball," that book about computers inventing the Oakland A's that Joe Morgan hates so much/hasn't read, how Beane liked Art Howe because he looked the part of a manager but didn't actually do anything? And remember how the A's won their division and everybody praised Art Howe up and down the street for doing such an amazing job? And then Art Howe went to the Mets for like fifty million a year and stank up the joint? I actually believe Ken Macha to be a pretty good manager -- he seems smart, and he buys into the A's philosophy and doesn't seem to panic or anything. He uses his bullpen pretty well and the players seem to like him. But please, please, everyone, stop crediting him and him alone with the turnaround.
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Perfect Sample Size

While discussing Renteria on ESPN last night, Berman said "we know how he performs at the end of games from the '97 WS."

Hmmmm? Do we? Is that really enough to "know" from? If I had seen Berman do one Sportscenter 8 years ago, would I be right to say "we know he's too happy with his crappy nicknames, from that August '97 Sportcenter."

Well, in that case I would have been right, so that's a bad example.

posted by America's Sweetheart  # 10:57 AM
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Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Germane To Virtually Nothing

Ozzie Guillen was victimized by the hidden ball trick three times.
Check it.

posted by dak  # 8:06 PM
Marty Barrett -- King of the Hidden Ball Trick. Who knew?

Often forgotten is that Ozzie Guillen is perhaps one of the most marginal baseball players ever to enjoy a fifteen-year career as a starter. A career .626 OPS??? At least he was a catalyst on the basepaths. Oh, his career stolen base percentage is 61%. Well at least he had a reputation as a cracker-jack fielder. Oh, one Gold Glove.
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Karl Ravech, the Pride of Needham High School

Here's a more-or-less full transcript of one of the most publicized and ridiculous Morgan moments to date. Thanks to a number of readers for sending us the link.

It's amazing how simple the questions were that Karl Ravech (Class of '84) was asking. It makes you wonder: who at ESPN insists on keeping Joe Morgan on board, year after year? The man can not answer a question about baseball.

-dak (Class of '96)

Go Rockets.

posted by dak  # 2:04 PM
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Monday, August 08, 2005


Steve Phillips+Math=Hide Your Kids

Real quick, from Steve Phillips' most recent chat:

"Dan (Ithaca, NY): A manager looks at stats and it says a hitter is 8 for 12 against a pitcher. The manager thinks that the odds are for the hitter. I say the odds are that the hitter is due to make an out. What say you ?

Steve Phillips: You must be a statistician! The regression towards the mean would come into play. If you are over the mean, odds are you will come back to the mean. But if a guy is 8 for 12 and go 2 for 4 and still fall back toward the man, the manager is smart to put him in."

>>Of all the things you could say in response to this point, Steve chooses to laud a fundamental misunderstanding of basic probability! Sorry Steve, while it is very impressive that you're tossing around fancy terms like "regression to the mean," I'm afraid you just failed 5th grade math. This is the sort of stupidity that plagues baseball far too often. Steve, if I flipped a coin 100 times, and each time it came up heads, am I getting better odds to bet tails the next time? (The answer is no, you idiot) Actually, if that happened, I'd probably bet heads because there's probably something wrong with the coin. And what "mean" are you talking about? The mean of all batters averages against all pitchers? Because in this case, the mean of this batter vs. this pitcher, albeit a small sample size, is .667.

This is the difference between causal and non-causal probability, sometimes referred to as the "principle of indifference," not that I expect you to understand that.

Although, judging from your past, I would think that you're "due" to stop being a moron.

Also, fantastic typo in that last sentence..."fall back towards the man." Hmmm...

posted by Murbles  # 4:47 PM
Reader Kaitan points out that the mathematical term I probably meant to use was "gambler's fallacy" not "principle of indifference." Math dudes forgive me; it's been a few years.

But I stand by my point that no baseball player is ever "due" to do anything.
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Sunday, August 07, 2005


Roy S. Johnson Gets Paid To Write About Baseball

More specifically, things like this. Thanks to FJM reader Joel for the tip. Let's dive in.

Maury Wills, Lou Brock, Vince Coleman, Tim Raines, Rickey Henderson ... Scott Podsednik. You were probably with me up until ... Scott Podsednik. You recognized a list of baseball's all-time thieves (in the best sense of the word) until ... Scott Podsednik.

>>What? No, I was with you all the way. I am a fan of baseball. I like to read about baseball and look at the numbers associated with baseball and whatnot. Therefore, I am very familiar with Scott Podsednik, and the fact that he steals a lot of bases. I am more than comfortable with you putting him in the same sentence as Tim Raines and Vince Coleman. Pretty much everyone with a passing interest in baseball could tell you that Scott Podsednik is one of the most prolific base stealers in the game today. But keep going, asshole.

And now, you're most likely either scratching your head, rolling about with belly laughter or wondering whether the recent East Coast heat wave sapped my senses.

>>I don't even...what? Does this guy think he's dug deep into the back pages of baseball's forgotten stars or something? Found a name that no one but he will recognize? WE ALL KNOW THAT SCOTT PODSEDNIK STEALS A LOT OF BASES. Jesus.

Base-stealing is a lost art, and the first five names represent some of the game's greatest practitioners of the craft. They were all-around players, certainly. One (Brock) is a Hall of Famer, and another (Henderson) certainly will be. The rest were respected pros who contributed to their teams with skill and leadership.

>>Let's take this nice and slow.

1) Base-stealing is a lost art.
>>No. People still steal bases, and some believe that the art of stealing bases has only evolved since the days of Rickey Henderson. League leaders don't regularly steal 100+ bases a year, but that doesn't mean that (a) anybody's forgotton about SBs, or (b) it's become any less artful.

2) They were all-around players, certainly.
>>Certainly? Vince Coleman had 28 career homers. His career OPS+ was 83. He was a base-stealing specialist, and little more. He was far from an all-around player. Wills, similarly, had 20 career taters and a career OPS+ of 88. (By the way, you know where Maury Wills ranks on the all-time Stolen Bases list? EIGHTEENTH.) To round out the list, very quickly, Brock was a good all-around player, Raines was very good (OPS+ 123) and Henderson is one of the best players ever. Ty Cobb, unlike Coleman and Wills, was an all-around player who could steal (4th all time).

3) The rest were respected pros who contributed to their team with skill and leadership.
>>Hey dude -- remember how they called Tim Raines "Rock"? Yeah. See, that was because he was addicted to rock cocaine. He used to slide head-first so he wouldn't break the vials of coke that were in his back pocket. Class act.

Time was when every team had at least one base-stealing threat, and the best clubs had at least two. Now, all of baseball has only ... Scott Podsednik.

>>This is just not true. I'm sure Roy S. Johnson wants to think that dudes stole tons of bases back in the day. But let's take a closer look. Here are the league leaders in SBs, back in the "glory days" -- the year Henderson set the all-time record -- and last year.

AL LEADERS -- 1982
Henderson-OAK 130
Garcia-TOR 54
Cruz-SEA 46
Molitor-MIL 41
Wilson-KCR 37

NL LEADERS -- 2004
Podsednik-MIL 70
Pierre-FLA 45
Abreu-PHI 40
Freel-CIN 37
Roberts-LAD 33

Once we get past the league leader, it's really not that different at all, if you consider that Rickey Henderson was basically a freak of nature.

And. We only have Scott Podsednik? What of Carl Crawford? Juan Pierre? Ichiro? These guys aren't necessarily good at stealing bases, but they steal a lot.

(Incidentally, did you know that Lou Brock was only successful 75.3% of the time? Not that great at all -- most of us would agree that at that rate, it's not even worth trying to steal. Wills checks in at 73.8%.)

Anyway, keep going, Roy!

Baseball, sadly, is at a standstill. A generation ago, Podsednik's MLB-leading stolen-base total (70) wouldn't have even been among the league leaders behind Coleman's 110.

>>Now, this is amazing. Again, I don't know if Roy S. Johnson wants these things to be true so badly that he doesn't bother looking them up. I don't know if he's too lazy to go through the numbers. Maybe he thinks Billy Beane murdered his dad or something. I don't know why he's not capable of doing the same very simple research that I'm about to do.

But he's wrong.

Coleman stole 110 bases in 1985. Podsednik's league-leading total from last year, 70, would have placed him -- ready? -- tied for third. He would have been tied for second in the NL with Rock Raines. Tied for third overall behind Coleman and Henderson. And way better than Willie McGee and Gary Pettis (56 each) who came in tied for 4th that year. So I ask you, Roy S. Johnson, what the shit are you writing about?

Mookie Wilson, the Mets' former speed threat (No. 12 on baseball's all-time list) who now manages the franchise's Class A Brooklyn Cyclones, calls today's speed-deprived game "boring baseball." I thought for a moment that my cell phone had hit a dead zone after I asked him to name today's top base stealers. "Ten years ago," he finally said, "you could name 10 or 15 guys off the top of your head. Now, you have to think about it."

>>Maybe Mookie Wilson had a problem naming the top 10 base stealers because he's in Class A Brooklyn, and not playing in the major leagues. I'll try quickly to write the names of 10 guys who steal a lot of bases in today's game:

Jose Reyes; Ichiro; Pierre; Beltran (though not this year); Figgins; Podsednik; Abreu; Crawford; Brian Roberts; Jody Gathwright (sp?) -- when he's playing; Raffy Furcal; Ryan Freel; Julio Lugo.

A tip for Mookie: it helps to play fantasy baseball. I did that off the top of my head, and it's not perfect. But it's really not that hard to come up with a list "off the top of my head." I'm sure you could do the same.

As far as the game being boring, well, I like great pitching and taters. I like doubles and walks. I've never been excited by stolen bases.

Okay, back to Roy! Remember: He is employed by to write stuff like this:

Base-stealing is a risk. Baseball's stat geeks will give you a headache with talk of the "run value" of a stolen base (.22, according to stat whiz Pete Palmer of the Baseball Encyclopedia) relative to a player being caught stealing (-.38), which must also be mixed with on-base percentages, plate appearances, walks, a little oregano and who knows what else to determine whether the stolen base is an effective weapon.

>>.22!! -.38!! NUMBERS?! MY BRAIN HURTS!

Why work so hard to move a runner into scoring position when he had just as good a chance of being able to sashay over the plate ahead of some guy who just smashed the ball into a concession stand across the street?

>>Wait, are you being sarcastic?

I know, you see the name and look at the guy (yes, he's white) and you're probably laughing again.

>>Does anyone believe that you can tell how fast a guy is by looking at his name? What kind of insanity is this?

But speed is not even the most essential skill for base stealers.

>>Okay. I'm just gonna quietly disagree.

posted by dak  # 4:56 AM
Also, in re: "The rest were respected pros who contributed to their team with skill and leadership."

Remember when Vince Coleman threw a lit firecracker into a crowd of kids?
"I know, you see the name and look at the guy (yes, he's white) and you're probably laughing again."

This is incredibly racist. He is suggesting, literally, that the color of a man's skin can be used to "guess" at whether he is fast. How do his editors let this go by? This is straight-up racism, and amazingly, it offends blacks *and* whites.

I thought dak was over the line for lazily calling this guy an asshole, but now I'm on board.
Thanks very much to reader Mike for this P.S. to this whole debacle:

"Please note that in Johnson's article on the 'lost art of the stolen base', he refers to Mookie Wilson as #11 on the all-time stolen base leader list. Unfortunately, Mookie is much closer to #111 all-time. Willie Wilson is actually 11th."
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Saturday, August 06, 2005


Warning! Not About Baseball!

An imagined conversation:

SCENE: ESPN Headquarters, Bristol, CT

ESPN Guy #1: Okay, folks! We got X-Games 11 coming up, and we still need a host for "X-Center," which will be like a Sportcenter for the X-Games set. We need someone young. Someone hip. Someone these counterculture kids will really identify with.

ESPN Guy #2: How about Linda Cohn?

ESPN Guy #1: You, my friend, are a fucking genius.

posted by Murbles  # 3:45 AM
Anyone know that word in German for that particular feeling of disappointment when you turn on SportsCenter and Linda Cohn is one of the anchors?

I can't remember.
In re: X Games 11:

By the way, some freestyle moto-cross guy was referred to as "The Phil Mickelson of freestyle motorcross."

Which raises the question: who is this year's Mark Calcavecchia of men's skateboard vert?

I mean, it's probably Buster Halterman, but you could make a case for Tas Pappas.
dak, you are truly the Cory Pavin of FJM.
By the way -- do you think, as I do, that Emily Copeland Durham is the Miguel Batista of Women's Wakeboard?

I could literally do this all day.
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Why I Will Not Be Watching "Classic Now" Or Whatever The F It's Called On ESPN Classic

Have you seen this ad? A kid asks the host, whose name I believe is Josh Elliot, if Jeter is the greatest shortstop of all-time or something. His answer is that in the pantheon of Yankee shortstops, he'd be at the top. Fine...but at the end, while making his case, he notes: "even Boston fans call him Captain Intangibles!" as if that was a solid point in his favor.

It's amazing to me that they would script this, thinking it was genuine flattery on behalf of Sox fans, and shoot the commercial, and nowhere along the way did anyone say: "Um, I think they're, you know, making fun of the guy? It's like...a joke? You can't be Captain of something that, by definition, you can't touch. Guys? No?"

Please remember: this does not come from a place of liking the Sox over the Yanks, though we certainly do. We just can't tolerate people getting facts wrong, saying stupid things, and promulgating misinformation.

Also, a note to our readers: keep those e-mails coming. We truly enjoy them, and will try to respond to everyone. It makes us very happy to hear from like-minded baseball fans who are willing to fight in the FJM army.

I've noticed that Steve Stone's been doing an awful lot of color lately for ESPN. They say Morgan's on vacation, but I pray that it's a sign of things to come.

posted by dak  # 2:48 AM
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Friday, August 05, 2005


Let's Do This

Joe Morgan: I am here and ready to go!

Ken Tremendous: Music to my ears.

Tom(Huntsville,AL): Joe, that was an excellent article you wrote about Palmeiro. Have you received any flack from hall of famers or your colleagues at ESPN and in the media for coming out so harshly?

Joe Morgan: I haven't heard from anyone. I've had lots of calls for interviews though. I just haven't been out where I would see anybody. Maybe tomorrow when I go to do the Sunday game. I'm not concerned about flack. I've been in baseball for over 40 years. I have a right to my opinion and I stated it.

KT: God bless you, Joe, you ignorant, stubborn, attention monger.

Justin (Baltimore): The state of the Orioles literally makes me nautious. Have you ever seen a team play so well over such a long period of time (2 1/2 months) and then do a complete 180. Baltimore fans are angry, hurt and disgusted right now...your thoughts???

Joe Morgan: I'm very disappointed myself. I picked them to do very well this year. As I've said on the air, I think Tejada is the best player in the game considering what he brings to the park everyday. But something went wrong and it wasn't just the pitching. It was something in the team approach. I wasn't there everyday so I can't pinpoint it. I don't know if Mazilli was the cause or not, but they decided it was. I won't try to condone or defend his firing because I don't know what went on every day.

KT: "Something went wrong?" Joe, here are some things you could have said: 1. It was the pitching. Their pitching simpy couldn't hold up long-term. Many, many people have noted this. 2. Your boy Sammy Sosa is a whole lot of dead weight in that line-up. 3. Javy Lopez and Eric Bedard had long-term injuries. 4. They have bullpen/closer issues. There are many reasons for the Orioles' collapse. One of them is not that Miguel Tejada is the best player in the game. (He's not, and, also, that's irrelevant.) Also, what kind of journalist says he can't comment on what went wrong because he "wasn't there every day?" That's insane. Because the games are broadcast on TV. And you should know this, because sometimes you go on TV and talk about what's happening in the games. All those little men running around on the field while you blather on about computers? Those are baseball players.

Travis (Indy): What did you think of Ryan Sandberg's induction speech? I thought there was a good message for players of this era.

Joe Morgan: I actually didn't get to see the speech but I saw all the reaction to it. Sometimes we have to be careful, myself included, in how we approach today's player and how we deliver a message to them. Sometimes they take it the wrong way and take it as pure criticism as opposed to constructive criticsm. We'll have to wait and see how they take it.

KT: You have never for one second thought about what you are saying before you say it. Don't condescend to me, or Travis (Indy).

Sheets, NY: I was lucky enough to be at the Hall of Fame ceremony this past weekend. Every time a Hall of Famer was introduced, I was "in awe". I have so much respect for each and every one of them (including those who weren't in attendance, like yourself and Hank Aaron). But when I think of players of today, who have "Hall of Fame statistics"... well, to be honest, I just don't like them. Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa. All are either cheaters and/or have questionable (to say the least) character. Your thoughts?

Joe Morgan: First of all, I agree you should be in awe of the HOFers. Less than 1 percent of the players who play this game become Hall of Famers. I'm in awe myself. I get goosebumps when I talk to Mays. But it's difficult to compare old to new. I try not to do it. My daughters are different than I was with my parents. This generation is different from previous eras. In some ways, their personalities may bring out something special in the play they play the game or show emotions. Other times it can be detrimental .. flipping a bat after a HR, standing there and watch it, yelling at a hitter after you strike him out, etc. There is more in-your-face stuff now than when Mays and those guys played. It's just different. There's not much more I can say. It's just different.

KT: The most famous intimidator of all-time was Bob Gibson, who used to drill guys, or knock them down, and shout at his own catcher. He was entirely unlikable to everyone but his teammates. Babe Ruth, a lecherous alcoholic, famously shouted at a pitcher and called a home run. Mickey Mantle was an alcoholic who destroyed his career, and the press covered for him. Are you seriously telling me -- and this goes for you, too, Sheets (NY) -- that the players of today have more "questionable character" than those of days past? This is horseshit. Are today's players more spoiled? Absolutely. Do they take steroids? Sure. And that is bad bad bad. But to say the old timers are morally superior, or of "higher character," is insane.

Corey (Beacon, NY): What is your take on the year Roger Clemens is having? What cap do you think he will wear into the Hall of Fame?

Joe Morgan: His season is mind boggling to me. To be honest, he reminds me of Bonds.

KT: A terrible, terrible comparison. But continue.

Joe Morgan: When you learn your trade so well, or get to know everything about it, you usually are too old to execute it. I know I know far more about hitting today than I did when I played. If I knew this much back then, I would be a better hitter. But by the time I learned it, I couldn't get around on a 95 MPH fastball. These guys can still execute at this late stage. I guarantee you Bob Gibson, Juan Marichel, etc. knew the same things Clemens knows now .. they just couldn't execute.

KT: Obligatory mention of how players in his day were just as good (or, at least as "smart.") Good thing I learned in the last answer that Joe tries not to compare players of different generations, or else I would think that he was comparing players of different generations.

greg (dc): Have you had an opportunity to sit down with Frank Robinson and talk to him about how his managerial style has changed and what he's doing differently this time around? He seems so much more relaxed (of course, for Frank, we're talking comparatively) than he did in his earlier manager jobs. I've really enjoyed listening to him talk about this Nationals team and his sense of humor seems much more apparent now than when he was managing before.

Joe Morgan: I played for Frank in 81 and 82. He is a lot more relaxed. I think that comes with age and with understanding what your role is and how to get the best out of players. Frank and I had a confrontation once .. we discussed it and are the closest of friends now. I have unlimited respect for him. He is the most underrated element ever in Major League Baseball. On Mays, Aaron and Ruth had more HRs than he had when he left, but yet he didn't make the All-Century team. He has been underappreciated as a player, manager, everything. He just doesn't get the same regard as others who have done less. But as you mention, he was tough to get along with earlier in his career. And he's still no pushover! But I respect him tremendously.

KT: Joe? What about "what he's done differently?" The question was not, "Hey, Joe -- can you ramble on for a paragraph or so about your personal relationship with Frank Robinson, and whether or not you respect him?"

Steve (Jacksonville): Joe, I read your column about Palmeiro, Pete Rose and your opinions on allwoing steroid users in the Hall of Fame. I used to think that there was nothing that could be done, because for he most part, there was no hard evidence on who actually used steroids and who didn't. However, with Palmeiro's positive test, doesn't this give the Hall and it's voters the opportunity to set a standard and make an example of Raffy. We may never know if McGwire, Sosa and some of the others were on steroids, but doesn't Palmeiro's positive test make it virtually impossible to let him in the Hall?

Joe Morgan: Great question. I'm not concerned about making an example of Palmeiro, but there needs to be a standard set on what is going to happen if players test positive and have HOF credentials. In effect, Pete Rose tested positive and he has HOF credentials. He has been out of the game for 16 years. What happens to the others who test positive? Make no mistake, and I"m on record saying Rose needed to be punished, and I feel the same way about steroid users now. If you hurt the game, it hurts your credentials for the HOF. I'm not saying guys should never be in the HOF who test positive, but I am saying that there needs to be some type of punishment. To the question about flack, guess what, I don't care. I think I'm right. That's just how I feel.

KT: I was going to edit this rambling nonsense out of this post, but then I got to the end. "To the question about flack, guess what, I don't care. I think I'm right. That's just how I feel." Does anyone have a guess as to what is going on there? That's right -- Joe Morgan has just responded to the very first question in this seven questions later. And, I might add, he has done so obnoxiously. And, I might add, he also responded to the same question way back when the question was asked. What a weird guy.

Brian (Chicago, IL): Have you seen the reports out of NY about Sheffields comments on Jeter not being a team leader and the lack of team chemistry in NY? What type of effect do you think this will have on the Yanks from this point on? Please answer to help a distraught Yankee fan.

Joe Morgan: Part of the chemistry is like the chemistry on a football team.. if the defense and offense is playing well, you have great chemistry! If one of them is not, you don't! If someone isn't doing their job, then the chemistry becomes a question. I haven't seen the comments yet so I can't comment real specifically.

KT: So, your analogy is: "The chemistry on a baseball team is like the chemistry on a football team?"

John (Portland, ME): Is Miguel Cabrera giving Albert Pujols a run for the money as the best all around hitter in baseball?

Joe Morgan: I think he is one of the best, but when you look at Pujols' consistency, everybody has some catching up to do. Cabrera has unlimited ability and talent. We'll just have to see how good he becomes. Remember, Pujols is still getting better. Pujols has such a great mental approach to hitting. That's one of the reasons he continues to improve. I haven't talked to Cabrera lately.

KT: Oh my god. What the hell are you talking about? You haven't talked to Cabrera latey? Who the fuck asked about that? What is wrong with you?

Shawn (Ohio): So in your opinion who has more rights to the HOF Raffy or Pete?

Joe Morgan: It's not about one having more than the other, I just want everything to be considered fairly. I guess the point I was trying to make .. if someoen hurts the game, there has to be a punishment with that. At this point, the only one who has been punishment is Rose. Raffy got a 10 day punishment. Rose got 16 years. I'm not saying he didn't deserve it, but if the steroid players get 3 chances, the other guy deserves a second chance as well.

KT: Terrible argument. I don't have the time or energy to elucidate why. Those of you reading this can play along at home and send in your thoughts.

Travis (Indy): All of us on Eastern time appreciate the dedication!!!

Joe Morgan: I get up around 7am everyday so it works out fine! When my kids go to school, I start even earlier! I'm headed to the golf course right after this chat!

KT: Great! Awesome! You're the best!

Craig (Boston, MA): How do you feel about the Sox and their newly found young studs on the hill? Can they still get it done with a pitching staff that is day-to-day/week-to-week?

Joe Morgan: A lot of people are surprised at the Sox, as am I, but I thought they would be better. You create something new with chemistry when you bring in new talent. That forced everyone else to run the bases harder, to take the extra base and to do what they could to make the team better.

KT: Thanks for answering the qustion about whether the Sox can keep it up. (I don't actually see the answer here, but maybe I blacked out or something, because I'm sure a legitimate baseball expert would have answered the question.) Also, hmmm. New pitching talent forced Kevin Millar and John Olerud to run the bases harder...or they have a great hitting team that leads the AL in runs? Which is a more likely explanation for their success?

Sean (NYC): How is your golf game? Strong like bull or needs some work?

Joe Morgan: My game is REAL good! I'm playing better than I ever have. I just get to play more often now. My handicap is well under five.

KT: "Well under five?" So...four? Zero? Also, shut up about golf, please.

Vince (Takoma Park, MD): Is Jon Miller any good at golf? He kind of looks like a golfer.

Joe Morgan: He actually doesn't golf. So he's probably not very good!

KT: Shut up about golf.

Stephen Smith, East Greenbush, NY: Joe, you never gave your take on what cap Clemens should wear on his plaque in the HOF.

KT: Thank you, Mr. Smith, for pointing out that Joe never actually answers people's questions. Continue.

Stephen Smith, East Greenbush, NY: While I like the Sports Guy's idea of putting a dollar sign on it, don't you think it should be a Red Sox cap?

Joe Morgan: I don't have any idea at this point. Roger has been great in so many places! He has won a Cy Young with several teams so the jury is still out. He may pitch for another 10 years, who knows!

KT: You don't have any idea? Pick one, Joe: Boston, Toronto, NY, Houston. You are on the goddamn HOF committee. Answer the question with your opinion. It is what you are paid for.

Jeff K Vermont: About mays wasn't he acussed of "a little veil "with some red juice in it....aka speed? I truly respect your honesty it's something we see very little these days!!!JK

Joe Morgan: No!

KT: Well, that clears that up. Rock solid argument. Thanks Joe.

Ghazi (NYC): ENOUGH OF THE NEGATIVE TALK! Joe, give me two things right now that are great about this game.

Joe Morgan: The players today, overall, are special. There are so many really, really good players. The thing I admire about them today is they have stayed in shape all year round. In other eras, guys showed up at Spring Training 20 lbs overweight. Also, fans enjoy the game more today. Attendance is higer than ever before. Not sure I can find anything else .. but that's two! Actually, another thing is parity .. or mediocrity .. however you look at it. We have more teams in the race than ever before.

KT: So, three things you like about baseball today: the players are good, and not fat. Attendance is up. And the league is mediocre. You truly are an ambassador for the game, Joe.

Pete (Willington, CT): Has anyone ever gone on an uglier winning streak than the one the Red Sox are on right now? They're getting lit up by terrible hitters, and blowing late leads, only to come back because of the lousy defense and horrendous relief pitching of AAA teams like the Royals.

Joe Morgan: Here's the thing to remember, you play so many mediocre teams in the regular season, so you can afford to win that way. You don't have to blow out every team every day. My daughters soccer team played great yesterday and lost. I would have rather they played worse and won! The win is the thing. They will have to play better down the stretch for sure but don't worry about it now as long as they are winning.

KT: My goodness. Not one shred of actual insight into the Red Sox, who are a baseball team, but a thorough analysis of your daughter's soccer team. You are fired.

jeffrey (md): What is your take on the firing of Lee Mazzili? I think Peter Angelos set him up to fail.

Joe Morgan: I don't think he was set up to fail. You can make a team in your own image or make daily changes to help the team win. I don't understand being set up to fail. If you're set up to fail, then you shouldn't take the job. Things haven't worked out, and I'm not saying it's Mazilli's fault, it's also the GM, the owner, the players. But I"m not close enough to the situation to defend or criticize him.

KT: Yet again, Joe pleads the fifth here, because he "isn't close enough to the situation." These chats read like Iran-Contra testimony sometimes. Also, read the first four sentences again, and try to make sense of Joe's point. I dare you. Does he think that Mazz *knew* he was being set up to fail? In what universe would that be the case?

Joe Morgan: First off, this has been one of the most enjoyable chats I have done in awhile. I really appreciate all the great questions. I should have put this in my column this week .. but I"ll say it now.. I disagree with people who say it is OK to cheat as long as you don't get caught. I disagree that it's OK to cork your bat or throw spitters or take steroids if you don't get caught. Cheating is cheating. From a competitive point of view, it is wrong. Every young person in America should be reminded of that. People who cheat will do lots of other things that are wrong as well. I don't think of myself as a saint, but I never cheated on a baseball field. Thanks for the chat and we'll talk again next Friday!

KT: Can't wait!!!!!!!!!!!

Labels: ,

posted by Anonymous  # 1:50 PM
Two points about this chat:

1) I'm now convinced Morgan has it out for Ryno. His induction speech could have been delivered by Joe Morgan himself, what with all of its talk of "respect for the game" and Pete Rose and what not. Yet Joe STILL can't say anything positive about him. In fact, he criticizes Sandberg for his approach, which is identical to the approach Morgan uses in his response to the very next question!

2) I love how Morgan still refuses to say anything negative about Gary Sheffield, who by my metric, comes as close to the "me-first" "disrespecting the game" archetype as you're going to find in baseball. He called out Jeter, for christ's sake! Gary Sheffield has admitted to using steroids, admitted to sandbagging it to force a trade, admitted he won't try hard to catch balls if he thinks he might get hurt, and now he has called out Derek Jeter and A-Rod for not being leaders. It makes you wonder what exactly the guy needs to do for Joe Morgan to say one slightly less than positive thing about him.
This Sheffield thing is amazing. What does this guy have to do to be critiqued, by anyone? He says and does the most extreme me-first thing I have ever seen in baseball, and yet he never gets called out. Not by jeter, not Torre, not Michael one (that I have heard). And to have the temerity to state, flat-out, in the article, that his media problems are racially-motivated...if I were an African-American baseball player, I would straight-up hate this guy. He has done more to reinforce negative stereotypes than almost anyone in sports, and by screaming racism for no reason, he diminishes legitimate claims of racism. Someone needs to lay into that guy.
Also, I didn't notice this until the second read, but Joe gives us an interesting peek into what kind of dad he is...

"My daughters soccer team played great yesterday and lost. I would have rather they played worse and won! The win is the thing."

Can you imagine if your dad was like this? He is literally saying, in reference to a children's soccer game "it's not how you play the game, it's whether you win or lose." (I'm assuming his daughter is young? I have no idea)
To me, the funniest part of all of this is imagining Ken Tremendous as an African-American baseball player.
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