FIRE JOE MORGAN: Everyone Ready?


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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Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Everyone Ready?

Buzzmaster: Everyone ready for Joe? He'll be here shortly!

Ken Tremendous: Yeah, hang on one sec...just booting up the Morgan-English dictionary...there. All set.

Joe Morgan: Hello! Even without Barry Bonds catching Ruth, there are a lot of exciting things going on with many players stepping up and teams excelling. I'm ready for your questions.

KT's Computer: [breaks]

Brandon, Fl: I know there is a lot of talk about Bonds breaking Hank's record. I for one don't think it will matter in 10 years because Arod will have 800 by then and there is no telling what Pujols will end up with (if he stays healthy). Your thoughts?

Joe Morgan: I think there is a lot of space between how many HRs ARod and Pujols has and what Barry has. You never know what will happen with injuries and how long they will be able to play. Nothing is a cinch. Remember when everyone was saying Griffey was going to break Aaron's record? Only Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds have hit 700 home runs. That is quite an accomplishment.

KT: Bonds used steroids. Bonds used steroids. Bonds used steroids. For the rest of my life, every time Joe refuses to address the fact that Bonds's chase is marred by steroids -- which is the essence of like 98% of Bonds-related questions these days -- I am going to type "Bonds used steroids" three times.

Sean (NYC): No one seems to want to say anything on behalf of Keith Hernandez, and maybe rightfully so. But as I see it, what is a trainer/massage therapist doing IN UNIFORM? aren't those the people usually in the dugouts wearing polos? I'm thinking it wasn't so much that there was a woman in the dugout, but that she was wearing a team uniform. That seems a bit odd to me.

Joe Morgan: We are in 2006. There have been lots of women trainers in every sport. It is not uncommon to see a lady on the sidelines in football or basketball or to see female trainers in any other sport. I will not and cannot defend what he said.

KT: Nicely done. Perhaps the smartest thing you have ever said. I feel...cheated. But happy.

Bengi (Dyersville, IA): Joe, how big of an accomplishment is Jim Thome's record of scoring a run in 17 straight games? I don't think this got enough publicity--because it's a great accomplishment!

Joe Morgan: I agree completely. I used to keep count of that in my career because I knew how much it was helping my team.

KT: Really. Following your own stats is about the team. Huh.

I don't know how many I got in a row but it wasn't 17! Unfortunately, all people want to think about now are HRs and strikeouts by a pitcher. That isn't what always wins ballgames. By scoring those runs, he guaranteed his pitcher wasn't going to lose a 1-0 game. He deserved to get more publicity for that accomplishment, I agree.

KT: Junior e-mailed me this section about fifteen minutes ago, and made an excellent point: "Jim Thome homered in 9 of those 17 games. In 5 of the games, the legendary 17-game run streak would have been broken if not for a homer. We're talking about Jim Thome and he brings up overvaluing the HR!" (His ire is so cute, isn't it?) I would also add: HR (for hitters) and K (for pitchers) are two of the best "traditional" ways to determine how valuable a player is (i.e. excluding much better stats like OBP, RC, or WARP, or any of the metrics invented by Nazi computers who try to force Joe to learn what baseball is).

Patrick (St. Louis, MO): You stated in your last chat that because you've been around the game for so long, there isn't much more anybody can teach you about it.

KT: I have a crush on Patrick. And he hasn't even asked a question yet,

It seems like you're saying that everything in baseball is known already, whereas I feel that there is plenty that we don't know, especially with advances in sports medicine, the ability to use technology to evaluate defense more accurately, and the increasing availability of pitch-by-pitch data to study long-term trends in the game. Don't you owe it to your listeners to listen to new arguements and research, especially if they are intelligent and logical? You seem to have the notion that a lot of the objective analysis being done now is trying to get rid of traditional scouting, but most sabremetricians feel that both are essential to get the best results.

KT: (batting eyes) My word, Patrick, you handsome devil! You done gone and given me the vapors! (lies down on a divan; fans self)

Joe Morgan: The guy that wrote Moneyball can't teach me about the game. That is what I meant. If you haven't been on the field, why should I read your book? How can that person teach me about the game? I learn plenty about the game everyday. Every Sunday night I learn something. The game changes almost every day. But I'm still not going to read Moneyball or books written by people who haven't been on the field or really experienced what goes on in the game of baseball.

KT: This is one of those, "How many ignorant things can I jam into one answer?"-type answers. Let's break it down.

1. The guy that wrote Moneyball can't teach me about the game. You don't even know his name. How do you know he can't teach you about the game? You literally don't know who he is.

2. If you haven't been on the field, why should I read your book? Well, gosh, I don't know. are an Emmy-winning baseball broadcaster, and that book is probably the most important (mainstream) book writen about baseball in the last 20 years?

3. How can that person teach me about the game? Something new in the Joe-vs.-"Moneyball" war just occurred to me: Joe has not considered the idea that the book contains analysis by people other than its author. In other words, if Billy Beane were the author of the book and not its primary subject -- and those of you diehard Joe-vs.-"Moneyball" war fans will no doubt remember several interviews with Joe where he did indeed think that was the case -- would he read it then? Beane played on the field. He satisfies Joe's insane demand that only former players can "teach" us anything. Jeremy Brown, Jason Giambi, Scott Hatteberg -- nearly all of the book's subjects played the game. So this ridiculous line of thought on Joe's part is actually more meaningless than I previously believed, because Joe doesn't even know enough about the book to understand that it is not just Michael Lewis pontificating about baseball. It is actual players discussing the game Joe loves and refuses to learn about. I thus would like to invite someone, next Tuesday, to make this point in a question to Joe, and then we'll start some real fireworks, by gum.

4. I learn plenty about the game everyday. Every Sunday night I learn something. The game changes almost every day. Three nice little tidbits here, the first two of which, from my empirical info-gathering, seem wholesale false, and the third of which would, to most normal people, indicate that constant information gathering and research in all media would benefit someone who desires to be an "expert," and thus, theoretically, compel the quotation's author to go out and read "Moneyball."

5. But I'm still not going to read Moneyball or books written by people who haven't been on the field or really experienced what goes on in the game of baseball. See note #3, supra.

Mike (Saratoga Springs, NY): After Sundays 3 hit 1 run performance by Randy Johnson, is he finally starting to realize that he doesn't have a 96mph fastball anymore. He seemed to be spotting his fastball consistently inside to RH hitters and changing speeds much more effectively. Is this the RJ Yanks fans will see the rest of the year?

Joe Morgan: First of all, Randy Johnson has known how to pitch for a long long time.

KT: No one was saying he hasn't known how to pitch. The question is whether at age 43, RJ is altering his approach. It's like, everytime someone says anything about a player that seems to indicate that that player isn't A-plus #1 awesome perfect, Joe takes it like a personal insult. He should be the head of the players' union.

I didn't see that specific game but I've seen him pitch several times where he didn't just rely on the fastball. He already knows how to pitch, he didn't learn anything Sunday.

KT: For a nice contradiction to what Joe just said about a player not learning everything, see his answer to the question from like two minutes ago wherein he says, "I learn plenty about the game everyday. Every Sunday night I learn something. The game changes almost every day." One would expect, were this the case, that actual players would also be learning things about the game.

victor alexandria,la: where is next sunday,s game going to be?

Joe Morgan: Texas at Cleveland.

KT: Hey, Victor. C'mere for a sec. Do you think the best way to find out where next Sunday night's game is, is to join an on-line chat and ask the color commentator?

Joe Morgan: Inbetween I'm going to my daughter Ashley's National Junior Olympic Gymnastics Finals in Oklahoma City.

KT:...oh. Thanks. What do you think you'll have for dinner that night? Just so I know.

Jeff (Iowa): Could you explain in 50 words or less why baseball is a better sport than the other big three?

Joe Morgan: I can't do that. The only thing I will say is if you have been a baseball player and you love the game, then you would understand why it is great and why it mirrors life in general. I can't say it is better because I enjoy all sports. But if I had one to choose, it would be baseball. Joe Morgan: Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem, etc. who are all friends of mine, all wanted to be baseball players. Bryant Gumble said it best .. the other sports are sports but baseball is love. You fall in love with baseball. Everyone plays baseball and understands it.

KT: For the record, that's 107 words -- though only 103 came after Joe said he couldn't answer the question. Also: "Everyone plays baseball and understands it?" I can't even begin to unpack what that means, given Joe's answers to the "Moneyball" questions.

Joe (NY): Who is the best third-baseman in NYC?

Joe Morgan: That's not a valid question at this point. ARod has almost 500 HRs and you are going to compare him to David Wright? What? Who would you rather have on your team?

KT: Look, Joe, the answer is clearly ARod, but why do you get so snotty when people ask questions like this? David Wright is like 14 years old and he's amazing. If he stays healthy he might be a top-10 player in the NL for years and years. Just say that ARod is better, but the answer to that question might be "David Wright" sooner than most people think, or something. Don't yell at the nice man who logged on for your chat and asked you a legitimate question about baseball. Please.

Joe (Portland, OR): Given the resurgence of the Tigers, do you think the AL Central is now the toughest division in all of baseball?

Buzzmaster: Hold on, folks! Lost our connection with Joe. We should get him back in a second.

KT: I would've given anything if that question could have involved statistical analysis, so it looked like Joe had like smashed his computer into pieces. That would have been fantastic.

Charles (Birmingham, AL): Do you think there are too many teams, not enough teams or just the right amount from a competition point of view?

Joe Morgan: Too many. Every team now has weaknesses. If we had fewer teams, some of those weaknesses would go away. We have good teams but not great teams. Every team is missing something. Not because I was on the team, but my old Reds teams had hitting, Gold Gloves, pitching, etc. We had it all. I just don't see teams now that have all the pieces.

KT: This is my least favorite argument of Joe's. The 2005 ChiSox, Indians, and Cardinals. The 2004 Cards and Red Sox. The 1996-2003-ish Yankees. The 2003 Angels and Marlins. There are a lot of great teams in this league, who have great fielders, pitchers, and hitters. This "it was better in the old days" stuff is rubbish.

Ben, Philly: Can you go to any baseball game you want any day you want? If so, can you please kidly request that I have such a luxury?

Joe Morgan: I can't just walk in! But I have a Gold Pass. If you play for 8 years you get a Gold Pass that allows you to go to any game. But you have to call in advance. They will leave you two tickets. That doesn't work for playoffs and World Series though! That reminds me, I don't know where mine is! I need to find it.

KT: I'm guessing Bud Selig stole it back. Or maybe Jon Miller burned it.

Chad(WI): Would you be willing to sell me your gold pass?

Joe Morgan: No! It's a very cool thing.

KT: That you lost.

It's a great honor.

A lost honor, in your case.

Remember, the average player played around 4.5 years in my day. So when you got to 8 years and got the Gold Pass, it put you in a special category.

And then you lost it.

Ronny B. (DC): If you won't sell your gold pass, how about if you use it to get me a free ticket the next time you're in town?

Joe Morgan: I was just there Sunday! Sorry I missed you. If you can find me, you have a deal!

KT: Except that you lost your Gold Pass!

Interestingly, Joe now delivers a seemingly unprovoked apologia of his earlier answer to the "Moneyball" question. Let's see if he can clarify or explain better his thoughts on the matter.

I want to clarify the misunderstand about what I learn. Every Sunday I learn something new. But I'm going to stand by the fact that somebody who didn't play the game can't teach me about the game. I learned from the best, the legends who played the game. I played alongside so many great players. I'm just not going to read a book in hopes of learning how to play baseball. But this is an everchanging game and I do learn something almost every day. I'm just a former baseball player who is now an analyst. My thoughts are about the game and not medical technologies and such. Just because somebody writes a book doesn't mean they know the game.

KT: Nope. Still ignorant, misguided, and pointless. Also, "medical technologies?" Does he think "Moneyball" is about medical technologies?

Thanks for all the great questions. We'll talk again next Tuesday.

KT: Medical technologies?

Labels: ,

posted by Unknown  # 7:04 PM
Touché to the several readers who pointed out that perhaps I should have congratulated Joe for correctly answering a chat question, instead of chastising Victor for asking what the Sunday Night game was. Well-played, several readers.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I'm just not going to read a book in hopes of learning how to play baseball.

Has no one explained to Joe that the book isn't an instruction manual on bunting? Having no coaching, managing, or front office experience, you'd think Joe would be interested in a book that's about a successful approach to constructing a baseball team. But, I guess Joe already knows the keys to a successful team in modern baseball:
my old Reds teams had hitting, Gold Gloves, pitching, etc. We had it all.
One hopes that Joe came by this wisdom either by reading George Foster's diary or by watching "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
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