Joe's back!Buzzmaster: Joe's finishing up another interview. He'll be with us in a couple of minutes!
Ken Tremendous: Somebody else wants to interview Joe?Nora (St. Louis): What do you think of sign stealing? Do you consider it a perfectly ok way to gain a competive edge, or do you compare it to other forms of cheating (steroids; doctoring baseballs)?
Joe Morgan: Unfortunately baseball has its own set of rules to determine what's cheating and what's not. I think it's cheating. Guys corking bats, guys scuffing balls, etc. I think it's all cheating. It's all cheating. It changes the game from being a fair game to giving an advantage.
KT: I am, by nature, a lazy person, so I am not going to dig back through our archives to find the number of times Joe has defended Barry Bonds and said “well, we don’t know what happened” or “there’s no proof” or something. But suffice it to say, Joe has said such things, many times. Now it’s time for my nap.Matt (DC): Joe, as one of the most knowledgeable baseball minds out there today –
KT: (does Diet Coke spit take
)-- where would you rate David Ortiz among the all-time great clutch hitters in the game?
Joe Morgan: Thank you for your kind words. I can't rate players among all-timers, but I've said David Ortiz is the best big-time hitter in the game today. The game was different in the past, the pitchers were different, the hitters were different. But you can say he's the best big-game hitter today. And that's by a big margin. some guys seem to focus better when the game's on the line.
KT: This kills me to write, but…there is no such thing as clutch hitting. The reason it kills me is because I have watched David Ortiz win thirteen games with walk-off hits in the last three years, including three in the playoffs, and two in the last two days. David Ortiz/clutch hitting is like one of those magic eyes holograms – you know there is no 3-D space shuttle in the book you are holding, but holy Christ does it look like there is a 3-D space shuttle.Shawn(Kewanee, IL): Hello Mr. Morgan. With the horrendously sloppy game on Sunday and another shut out loss last night, do you think it is time for the Chicago Cubs to part ways with Dusty Baker and begin a mini firesale with some of their veteran players?
Joe Morgan: As you may or may not know, Dusty is a friend of mine and I'm a big fan.
Everyone Who Has Ever Heard Joe Morgan Speak: (in unison
) We know.But that doesn't keep me from being objective.
Everyone Who Has Ever Heard Joe Morgan Speak: (in unison
) (does Diet Coke spit take
)It's not all Dusty's fault, but if you continue the way they are, you have to have a change. They've built their club on Prior and Wood and they've been hurt. If you fire Dusty, then you're back to the pre-Dusty era and that's the way they're playing right now. The Cubs can't continue along these lines. I think Dusty one of the best managers out there. I don't think you can fire him until the season's over anyway.
KT: (wiping Diet Coke off self
) Let me try to boil down that answer to its essence, sentence by sentence: It’s not Dusty’s fault, but they might have to fire him. The players have been hurt (read: it’s not his fault). If you fire Dusty, it’ll be bad, but they’re bad now. The Cubs need to make a change. But Dusty is awesome. But you can’t fire him.Dustin (hampton,tn): will the yankees pick up another outfielder or pitcher, or do they need one to make it to the post season?
Joe Morgan: The Yankees, like everyone, has weaknesses. (…)
KT: I’m sorry, I cannot let that stand. The Yankees has weaknesses? Joe, I are upset with you (plural).Andy (New York): Joe, I think it's a shame that Alex Rios isn't even on the All-Star ballot. The average fan isn't going to write him in. Thoughts on this and the All-Star voting process?
Joe Morgan: The All-Star process has always been flawed, even when the players voted themselves, the players voted the veterans in. There is no perfect way to do this. I look up and see the Yankees have more votes than anyone else…There are so many flaws that I don't think you'll have a perfect system. I prefer for the players to have more of a say in it. But it's for the fans. It's a tough situation.
KT: This is a little convoluted, but in general, I agree. It’s a tough situation – is it an exhibition, voted on by fans? Or, since it “counts,” should there be some kind of official oversight? Couldn’t the internet be a way to correct the flaws of the paper ballots? Anyway, nice work, Joe. Oh wait – I’m sorry. You weren’t finished.Joe Morgan: The reason I say that, I was elected both ways and I was elected by the players and the fans. I got the most votes by the fans a couple of times. It's hard to say which way was better. I was happy in both cases. There is no perfect system.
KT: (pursing lips; drumming fingers on table
) You posted again just to mention that you were the leading vote getter, didn’t you, you saucy little minx?Tom (East Lansing): Mussina, HOF bound or not?
Joe Morgan: I don't think his career is over yet. To my knowledge, he hasn't won 20 games, which means he wasn't a dominant pitcher in his era, but then we have to see how many total wins he finishes up with. There are a lot of guys that have a lot more wins that aren't in. It's a number crunch from here on out.
KT: We finally got Joe to talk numbers, and he chooses the absolute worst one you can choose. Mussina has won 18 or 19 games in a year five times. His 19 wins in 1995 led the league
. Why in holy hell does it mean he was not a dominant pitcher because he never won 20 games, because his closers didn’t save one more game, or because his offense didn’t score a couple more runs one day? That is so arbitrary it’s blinding. Mike Mussina lost a perfect game at Fenway a few years ago, because Crazy Carl Everett muscled an 0-2 pitch into left center for a single. Does that mean it was not a dominant pitching performance?
I just…I can’t scream about this anymore. It’s exhausting. I hate Mike Mussina, because I think he’s whiny and because he plays for the Yankees. But he’s a really good pitcher. He’s a borderline HOFer – in fact, given his career numbers, like ERA+ (125) and K/BB ratio and stuff like that, to my eyes he is maybe the very definition of a borderline HOFer. But not because he doesn’t have enough wins, which is the coarsest of all coarse ways of evaluating a pitcher.Prince (Pittsburgh): What would you say is the main reason the Pirates can't win? Individually the players are talented, although a bit young, why can't this team at least be competitive?
KT: I honestly have not looked at the answer yet, but I’m going to guess that we are about to get our first “I haven’t seen them play” here.Joe Morgan: I think that's a very good question and I don't get to see the Pirates very much.
KT: Cue the marching band!I haven't seen them to judge myself to see how good they are individually. In this era, we seem to overrate how good players are. These last four or five years, people have overrated talent on certain teams. I see a lot of inconsistency there with overrated talent. I can't give you a real good answer, because I haven't seen them play as much. But make no mistake, a lot of times guys are overrated in their ability.
KT: Three separate “I haven’t seen them”s. Awesome. Also, Joe, we get it – the guys aren’t as good as they were in your day. Everyone’s overrated. Tony Perez was better than Pujols. Larry WEST ISLIP,NY: It certainly looks like some semblance of parity is returning to baseball. The Braves are finished and the Yankees are not far behind. What do you think?
Joe Morgan: I don't like the word parity, I say mediocrity. There are a lot of mediocre teams out there. The talent pool is thinner now than it's been. You can go from first to last and last to first. I don't know if it's parity as much as mediocrity.
KT: You are a true ambassador of the game, Joe. Everyone is overrated. All the teams are mediocre. The talent stinks. I Live For This!Sam (St. Louis): The Cards have lost seven straight games. Seven. Seven straight. That stings. It actually stings. Please, give me something to hope for. The Cards will pull out of this.. wont they?
Joe Morgan: I think they'll pull out of it, because they're making me look bad.
KT: That’s why?I picked them to win their division and play the Mets for the championship. The big problem, the starting pitching hasn't done as well as anticipated. I think it starts with their starters. They need some consistency.
KT: Have you ever noticed that Joe uses the word “consistency” a lot? It substitutes for just about every other abstract noun in the book – talent, health, success, teamwork…it is also handy when you don’t have any specifics at your disposal, like the fact that Mulder recently had an MRI and has serious shoulder problems.Mike (St. Louis): Joe, have you noticed catchers giving multiple signs with no runners on base? I don't remember that happening in the past. Why is that?
Joe Morgan: I think you're very observant, because I've noticed it as well.
KT: This is getting balder and balder. “I think you are a genius because you had the same thought as me. And I am a genius. So by the transitive property of geniusness…”Jarron (Cleveland, OH): Hello, Mr. Morgan. Between all the interviews, chats, research, and watching and calling games, how much time in season do you think you spend per week?
Joe Morgan: That's difficult to say, because I'm a fan first - I read the newspaper and watch the highlights as fans do. But I don't have an hour time, or whatever. I spend quite a bit of time on baseball, but it's just part of what I do, because I enjoy the game.
KT: By my estimation, you, by your own estimation, claim to have not seen about 20 of the 30 MLB teams enough to evaluate them. Ryan (Buckhead): Joe, do you think Vernon Wells is the best all around CF in the game?
Joe Morgan: Well, I would have to say he's in the top 2 or 3. He's had the potential. The problem in the past has been his consistency. (…)
KT: At least Joe himself is consistent, with his vocabulary.Ben (Boston): Has American league pitching gotten better, or has the hitting just become worse. And if it is better pitching then why haven't there been any NO-NO's in the past couple of years.
Joe Morgan: I don't really think the pitching has gotten better. I watch games and maybe in the some cases the pitching is better, but I don't think it's gotten better. I just think there are a lot of things that say the hitting is down a little bit overall. We might as well be blunt and say that the testing for steroids and other drugs is part of the reason. Amphetamines may be as big a problem as the steroids.
KT: OMG! OMG! Joe attributed something to steroids! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!Joe Morgan: Thanks for the questions.
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