Yay Hatguy! There is consternation in Yankee Nation. On Wednesday night, Mariano Rivera lost his second game of the season and saw his ERA climb to 4.91.
I'm not saying Mariano Rivera is going to be lights out this year. He might be a little worse than he's been in the past. I don't know.
I do know that Mariano Rivera once called Michael H. Celizic's child "a raging homo." You know how I know this? Because there is no other way to explain MHC's one-man crusade against Mariano Rivera. Here's last year's Rivera's-sky-is-falling article. Rivera's numbers by the end of 2005? How about: 1.38 ERA / .87 WHIP / 80/18 K/BB. Forty-three saves.
No one asked the real question, which isn’t, “Why did Mo blow the game,” but, “What was your most valuable player doing pitching two innings in a tie game against Tampa?”
In other words: "Who finally had the common sense to pitch Mariano when it really mattered instead of throwing him out there for 3 outs with a 3-run lead?" Right? No. Torre extemporized that Rivera hadn’t been pitching a lot and needed the work. But he didn’t need two innings of work. Soon enough, there will be plenty of opportunities for Rivera to pitch. Better to let him get a tad rusty than to burn him out by pitching him for two innings in tie games in April against the Devil Rays. The Yankees have been down this road before, and it leads to nowhere good.
During the game in question, Rivera threw 38 pitches. Four of those were in the form of an intentional walk, so we're really talking about 34. He threw 18 in the first inning of work, and Torre sent him out for another inning. Thirty-four pitches is not exactly short relief, but it's also damn well worth it if you're trying to get a victory. And in a tie game, with an offense that's likely to score 1,000 runs this year, that's what you're hoping for. Throw Mo for two innings, and give yourself two shots at a victory. It didn't work out that way, which is going to happen sometimes.
And if "nowhere good" is a place where my closer throws 78 innings of dominant relief, as it was last year, I'll take it.
So the last thing you want to do is burn him up by pitching him in non-save situations or using him for more than one inning at a time.
All hail The Save! Most arbitrary of statistics! Chien-Ming Wang pitched seven solid innings, leaving with a 2-2 tie. Farnsworth, as the script calls for, pitched a brilliant eighth — three up, three down, two strikeouts, 12 pitches thrown.
If anyone has written a script involving both Chien-Ming Wang and Kyle Farnsworth, I want to read it right now. Rivera’s job is to get three outs in the ninth and save wins. When he is given that job, he’s spectacular. When things fall apart is when Torre uses him to pitch two innings or brings him in with a five-run lead or uses him to preserve a tie when he has other options.
Get it right, Joe Torre. I am Michael Hatguy Celizic and this is what you do with Mariano Rivera. You throw him in save situations. You throw him when you're up three runs in the ninth. You do not throw him when you're up five. Unless you are up five and the bases are loaded, and then (of course) you can bring him in to pitch because it's a save situation. But with Torre, who has never shown any confidence in any reliever except Rivera, even something that simple becomes complicated. So he gave up on Farnsworth, who was brilliant. And he went to his security blanket, Rivera.
Sometimes, a guy who just pitched a brilliant inning of relief is also a giant fucking question mark. And sometimes, your security blanket is a guy who struck out 80 dudes and only walked 18 the year before.
I wonder what he keeps under that hat, anyway. Can't...stop...looking...at...hat...
Torre really wore him out in 2004, calling on him for too many two-inning saves and running him out to protect too many five-run leads, with the result ultimately being that he got beat by Boston in the ALCS. Last year, the manager took better care of Rivera and the pitcher rewarded him with one of the greatest years of his great career.
Mariano Rivera, 2004: 78.2 IP Mariano Rivera, 2005: 78.1 IP
Even more mail poured in after the "Follow-Up," sustaining such a high level of discourse I have been forced to break out the ol' philosophy books to keep up. The most important points, some made by several readers:
1. I totally blew it by saying Tony LaRussa never played ball -- he did, in fact. I believe, as some of you suggested, I was thinking of Buck Showalter. My apologies.
2. Interestingly, as loyal FJM reader Peter pointed out, so did Branch Rickey, who had a little MLB experience with the Browns and Yankees. See how much you learn about baseball when you try?
3. In the last section of the post, during my gedanken experiment, I casually lump Billy Beane in with the non-playing-the-game folks -- I hope this was not too confusing. I was cheating a little there, trying to cut away Beane's playing experience Occam-style to get at the essence of his baseball knowledge, and thus placing him on Team Knowledge. Pardon the rhetorical device.
3.5. Aren't these philosophy terms fun? How many can you spot?
4. Finally, I simply can't resist. One last (wonderful) hypothetical for Joe to ponder, from reader Brian (slightly altered by yours truly):
You're on a major league team, and your name is announced as a pinch-hitter. Before the first pitch, the pitcher steps off and appeals that your baserunner left early on a sac fly -- they win, and the game ends. You then get credit for appearing in that game although you did not actually play. Suppose you get sent to the minors the next day never to return, but you "appeared" in one major league game...would you thus be qualified to teach Joe about the game?
I have received an FJM-record-breaking number of e-mails concerning the section of the last JoeChat (see post below) wherein Joe addresses, yet again, his reasons for not reading "Moneyball." (Note: If discussion of this bores you, skip this post -- it's only for people who are really really into a like New Critical-style close-reading of Joe's off-the-cuff babble.)
It is worth re-printing the key section and its interrogatory antecedent:
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. 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.
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.
I want to clarify the misunderstand [sic] 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.
Many readers wrote in to discuss this -- especially the statement: "If you haven't been on the field, why should I read your book?" and its follow-up: 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.
My initial response concerned the fact that although Michael Lewis himself did not play pro ball (though he did, as several readers pointed out, play high school ball in Louisiana and later wrote a book about his HS coach), the subjects of the book, like Billy Beane and Scott Hatteberg, etc., were "on the field," thus rendering Joe's bitterness at once ignorant and pointless. Also, as Coach points out in the comments section of that post, apparently nobody has told Joe that "Moneyball" is not a how-to manual on bunting -- it is a book mostly about the business of baseball. Blah blah blah. Preaching to the choir.
But. Several of you brought up other excellent points, that I feel are worth adding to the discussion, to wit:
Adam writes in with an intriguing idea:
Joe claims not to need to learn anything from books because he played the game and played with other people who played the game and has been in the game for 40 years. 'Watching' is not involved. I would like to test Joe, though. Say, lock him in a sensory deprivation chamber completely isolated from the outside world, then have him predict the outcomes of ABs, games, and seasons based solely on his intuition and experience.
Adam takes things a bit literally, but I appreciated the idea of Joe locked in a closet.
Chris raises an interesting point about those who did not "play the game":
What about things that Jack Buck, Harry Carey, or Lon Simmons have said? Branch Rickey never actually played baseball, but he was directly responsible for 1) creating a minor league system, and 2) Jackie Robinson joining the Dodgers in 1947. Again, I guess there's nothing he could teach Joe Morgan (ignoring the fact that he was around a bit before Morgan's time).
Excellent point. The more you think about it, the excellenter it gets. What about oft-praised Joe favorites like Tony LaRussa? I happen to think he's an idiot, thus kind of proving Joe's point accidentally, but Joe loves him, and he never played ball. Tommy Lasorda barely did. Tons of GMs, coaches, scouts, and so on had either little or no actual on-field experience. Conversely, plenty of HOFers have made terrible managers -- Pete Rose, Ted Williams... Not that Joe argues the converse, but still. The theory that only those who played the game have knowledge of the game worth listening to or reading is so backwards and insular and wrong it's hard to imagine how one could ever espouse it.
But my personal favorite e-mail came from reader Nicholas, who focuses on the part of Joe's answer that reads "I learn plenty about the game everyday. Every Sunday night I learn something." Nicholas writes:
Can you please point out the epistemological unsoundness of Joe's answers about experience? The suggestion is that he can learn about the game by watching, but Michael Lewis can't; therefore one has to have played the game in order to learn by watching the game. If one reasonably assumes that this incommensurability also applied to talking about the game, the implications for the in-booth dynamic are mind-warping. Presumably, Jon Miller can teach Joe about the game because Joe's experience playing makes him able to learn. But despite Joe's pedantic railings, Jon won't be able to learn because he never played.
Also, implied in this analysis: although Joe's playing experience enables him to learn from Jon, Jon's lack of experience renders him unable to teach -- Joe is a European socket and Jon's cord doesn't have the right adapter. (Metaphor intended non-sexually.) Poor Jon Miller -- all he does is talk and talk about baseball right next to Joe Morgan, and yet Joe can never learn a thing; and poor Joe, whose brilliant insights fall on impotent, non-having-played-the-game ears.
I had never considered Nicholas's central point -- in order to learn by watching, Joe essentially posits, one has to have already played. Thus (as I wrote to Nicholas) imagine the flow of "knowledge" as EM waves, emitting constantly from those who played and are now talking, being absorbed by those who played, but bouncing off those who did not. Now, imagine a booth filled by Peter Gammons, Billy Beane, Bill James, and Dayn Perry on one side, and Joe Morgan, John Kruk, Hawk Harrelson, and Mitch Williams on the other. Now imagine trying to track the motion of these knowledge-pulses as they bounce around the room.
Now imagine the intellectual content of what each person is actually saying.
Never one to shy from taking the extra base - in fact, it's in the DNA of his grit - Cardinals shortstop David Eckstein did something unusual in the ninth inning as he rounded second base.
Now we know: David Eckstein's grit can reproduce. Look for David's awkwardly titled autobiography, The DNA of My Grit, ghostwritten by Buzz Bissinger and printed with ink produced from David's own blood, sweat, and tears. Thanks to reader Robb for the tip.
Bonus trivia question: Using a Punnett Square, what are the phenotypes and genotypes of the potential offspring of David Eckstein's grit and Scott Podsednik's hustle? (Hint: Eck's grit is homozygous dominant.) Bonus bonus trivia question: When was the first time the phrase "homozygous dominant" was written in a sports-related blog?
No one could possibly care about this except us, but a few days ago FJM celebrated its first birthday.
With that in mind, we just wanted to thank everyone who has come to this site. When we started this blog, its intended audience was like six people. We were all amused by all the ridiculous things that sportspersons would say and write about baseball, so we decided to put it in one place that the six of us could read.
One year later, apparently, thousands of other people read our nonsense every day. Some of you really don't seem to like us, and that's cool too.
Thanks for reading; e-mailing; posting links to us on all those obscure message boards; and even threatening to castrate Ken Tremendous.
Now let's get back out there and get Joe Morgan fired.
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. Because...you 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.
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.
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."
[W]hile Carlos Delgado gives them a major presence in the middle of the order, the fact remains that their two best players are David Wright and Jose Reyes.
Stat monkey, fetch me the numbers, please. Thank you.
Carlos Delgado: .412/.680/8 HR
Jose Reyes: .276./.366/1 HR 7 SB, 2 CS
I don't care what Reyes is doing on defense, there's no way he's making up that difference in value. So Peter, when you say Delgado is a "major presence" in the lineup, you mean he's actually been a good baseball player. And when you say Reyes is one of the Mets' "two best players," you mean he has the worst OBP of any regular shorstop in 2006. That's right. Worse than Royce Clayton. Worse still than Yuniesky Betancourt.
Hey Gammo, care to explain yourself?
Joel Sherman and I agree on a lot of things, none more strongly than watching Jose Reyes hit the ball in the gap may be the best thing to watch in sports.
I'm assuming that this alludes to the old chestnut that the triple is the most exciting play in basball, but, frankly, I think that watching any player hit a ball into the gap and leg out a triple would be more exciting than a guy with Reyes's speed. Quick game -- who would you rather see hit a triple:
Jose Reyes or Geoff Jenkins? Jose Reyes or Dmitri Young? Jose Reyes or Olmedo Saenz?
Jose Reyes or Miguel Tejada? Miguel Tejada or David Ortiz? David Ortiz or Doug Mirabelli? Peter Gammons or John Kruk? John Kruk or Rob Neyer? Wayne Huizenga or Paris Latsis?
Also, Junior -- am I to understand from your stat quoting that you have unilaterally decided to remove BA from the BA/OBP/SLG line we quote so often? If so, does this have anything to to with your laser eye surgery?
I hope someone else is watching Baseball Tonight right now, because I want to be sure I'm not experiencing some sort of FJM-wish-fulfillment hallucination.
Your lineup: Karl Ravech John Kruk Harold Reynolds Steve Phillips
Andy Pettitte's getting lousy run support tonight, and Ravech asks his friends, the baseball experts, how you get run support. My first reaction: that is a bad question, Mr. Ravech, sir, and I believe the correct answer is that you get run support by having a team that is good at scoring runs, plain and simple. That, and being lucky. My second reaction: three men are about to embarrass themselves on national TV. And they do not disappoint.
(GRAPHIC: (I shit you not) Harold: it's easier to hit with poor starting pitching)
He means poor starting pitching on your own team.
HR: I think a lot of times you see these clubs with great pitchers, and the great pitchers struggle to get runs, I think a lot of times, teams go in there and go, "We're not going to get a whole lot of runs today, you know, with this guy pitching." I think a lot of times when you have poor pitching (he really punches these two words) going, you know you gotta score some runs! (Really emphatic there.) And it becomes a mindset. You change the style of play that you play, you end up trying to bang a little bit more, you do a lot of things differently. I think when you know you have to score runs, it changes your style of offense.
Harold Reynolds must have a Ph.D. in mind-reading from the Sorbonne. It's easier to hit with poor starting pitching? "Easier"??? This is astonishing news. No wonder the Yankees are such good hitters. They're always trying to bang a little more, what with Jaret Wright constantly bumbling on the mound in the other half of the inning. Honestly, guys, who's going to acknowledge that the pitcher isn't responsible for getting his own guys to hit? Oh no, John Kruk is about to talk.
JK: See, I think it's easier to score runs when you have a pitcher on your side who's pitching for you --
As opposed to the embedded spy pitchers.
-- that is a great pitcher, because you know you don't have to score that many. And what it does, is, you know if you go up with a runner on third with less than two outs and you don't bring the run in, you think to yourself, "All right, well, so what? They're not going to score either. We'll have more opportunities."
So Krukie disagrees with Harold, but only because he thinks the exact opposite -- guys perform better for good pitchers! He did it -- he said the only thing that could possibly be dumber than what Harold said!
JK: Problem is, when you have a bad pitcher, and you don't deliver --
KR: (dull monotone) You're dead.
Ravech glassy-eyed, barely functioning.
JK: You know you're done!
HR: That means you gotta execute all the time!
JK: Not with a great pitcher. You can relax with a great pitcher.
HR: With a bad pitcher, you got to score runs.
This is amazing. You've got two guys arguing, extremely agitated, unbelievably passionate, and they're both wrong. It's like watching two Visigoths argue over whether the earth is square or shaped like the outline of a duck. Will somebody please speak up for reason? For logic? For just plain common sense?
SP: You're both wrong.
Because I don't think it's about the quality of the pitcher, it's about the pitcher and the atmosphere he creates for the team.
Steve: pitchers earn their run support)
What the hell? Do you think he really believes this? Does Steve Phillips really think that Freddy Garcia (5.96 RS in 2005) "earned" better run support than Mark Buehrle (4.15) last year? How about David Wells (7.97) and Tim Wakefield (4.79)? The Red Sox hitters gave their all for someone pretty much everyone agrees is a grade-A asshole and phoned it in for a devout Christian who loves his wife and kids? (Note: may not be accurate representation of either man.) Is that what happened?
There's a rhythm and a flow that happens to a team when things are going well. When you're scoring runs, when you're playing well -- pitchers who work too quickly sometimes get their hitters out of a flow; they work too slowly, they get out of the flow. And when you have a star on the mound, sometimes everybody stands around and watches. Roger Clemens shut out nine times last year when he pitched for the Astros -- shut out seventeen times. I just think it's about the environment that the pitcher creates!
Oh, that's why Johan Santana got the best run support of anyone on the Twins last year. Because he's not a star.
HR: You're not watching when you're hitting! He ain't pitching against you!
SP: It's about the environment that the pitcher creates.
KR: (incredulous) You believe that? (dripping with sarcasm) They're so enamored with Clemens, they're just -- they can't do anything?
To be fair, Karl, you brought this up. Or maybe this was a bad producer's idea.
SP: I think they watch on days he pitches.
JK: (outraged) If that's the case, then the Houston Astros -- apologies to them -- they are the dumbest hitters in the world. If they're watching their pitcher and not concentrating on scoring runs, they're the dumbest team in the baseball [sic] and I don't believe they are.
But, but -- you just said guys hit better for good pitchers ... meaning they hit worse for bad pitchers. Why is that any less crazy? Steve is talking about environment or flow or rhythm or whatever bullshit he just came up with off the top of his head, but you're clearly just guessing when you say guys are more "relaxed" when good pitchers are on the mound.
KR: (incredibly sorry he brought the whole thing up)
I guess I'll keep watching this good show about baseball!
Sorry for the delay -- Joe is hiding his chats on Tuesdays instead of his usual Fridays, and someone (I'm looking at you, Murbles) forgot to recalibrate the SnarkTron 3000™ for Tuesdays...blah blah blah. Whatever. No harm, no foul. We're back on the case.
Joe Morgan: Hello!
Everyone (unison): Hi, Joe!
It's been an interesting week. A lot of people thoughts HRs would go down because of the testing but they have gone up for other reasons. We can explore those. I'm ready for your questions!
Ken Tremendous: Did you type that paragraph in a different language and then have someone translate it back into English?
Eric (Toledo): Chris Shelton: Over or Under 45 HR's?
Joe Morgan: It's still too early to predict how many he will hit.
KT: Really? You mean you can't tell with certainty what the answer to this question is? Aren't you omniscient? No? That's disappointing.
How long is it going to take you to figure out that when people ask questions like this, they are asking for your opinion, and not an impossible-to-deliver iron-clad fact?
He's on quite a pace. But those things have a way of evening out. I would say under 45. HR hitters hit them in bunches and go in slumps. So I would say under 45 but he will still have a great year.
KT: "HR hitters hit them in bunches and go in slumps." Ladies and gentlemen, Emmy award-winning commentator Joe Morgan.
bronx, Ny: Are pitchers going to start walking and pitching around pujols like they do to Bary Bonds?
Joe Morgan: I expect that to be the case, yes. He doesn't have many weaknesses you can attack. They will always walk him in clutch situations now. He will probably only be pitched to with the bases empty. I don't like it. You should always want to compete. I don't like it when teams give up.
KT: I wonder if Joe's dislike of the intentional walk is in any way due to the chapter called "Was Billy Martin Crazy?" in the recent Baseball Prospectus book "Between the Numbers," wherein the authors use impressive statistical analysis to prove that it is almost always a bad idea to walk anyone -- even Barry Bonds -- intentionally. I bet that is why Joe doesn't want people to walk Pujols, right? Anyone?
Steve Dallas, TX: Joe, what's the secret behind the Mets hot start?
KT: I got this one, Joe. David Wright is off to a phenomenal start. Billy Wagner has solidified the bullpen. Pedro is pitching well, Delgado and Beltran are hitting. Xavier Nady has been a pleasant surprise, hitting .396 with pop. But really, it's the pitching. They lead the NL with a stellar 3.22 ERA and a .672 OPS-against, and as a staff are striking out more than 8 per 9 IP, with a 1.23 WHIP.
Joe Morgan: Carlos Delgado. Simple as that.
The addition of Delgado is why I picked the Mets to win their division. He is not only a numbers guy but also a great leader. He will do wonders for Beltran's attitude and help him to relax and play better. So far he has been the difference for this team. David Wright and Pedro Martinez have obviously also played a part.
KT: (throat dry; choking a little) Yeah...okay. Sure. Also, there's the staff 3.22 ERA/.672 OPS against...and the team .854 OPS...but no, okay, cool, it's just Delgado, and his influence on Carlos Beltran.
Marc (East Rockaway, NY): Is Mariano Rivera a first ballot Hall of Famer?
KT: Yes. The answer is yes. Just say yes. Please?
Joe Morgan: I'm not going to answer questions about Hall of Famers unless they have already been on the ballot.
KT: Well, that makes sense. After all, you're unqualified to do so. Because you're not a former player, nor are you an analyst, nor are you participating in a chat about baseball, nor are you in the Hall of Fame yourself, nor are you Vice Chairman of the HOF Board. So how could you be expected to answer such a question? I'm sure you have other good reasons for not doing so.
If I say yes, then people will wonder why I didn't say yes on somebody else.
KT: No we won't. We will assume that if you say "no" on someone else, that will indicate, through semiotic signifiers known as "words," that you do not believe that hypothetical person should be in the HOF. See how it works?
I'm Vice Chairman of the Board so I don't feel comfortble speaking about every single guy.
KT: I promise we won't ask about every single guy. We will not ask you if Doug "Eyechart" Gwosdz deserves to be in the HOF. We will not even ask you tough ones, like Raffy or McGriff. For now, we will just ask you about Rivera, and you should say "yes." There's still time.
I will say yes, that I think he is a first ballot guy but that's the last time I will talk about it.
KT: Good work. You're effing crazy, you know that, Joe?
Josh (Miami): Joe, can you answer this honestly? As someone who played the game the right way how will you react if Bonds passes Aaron? And how do you think Aaron will react, as well as your former teammates?
Joe Morgan: I won't have the same reaction I had when Aaron passed Ruth. But I will have a great sense of accomplishment for him. Obviously it is different now than when Hank was chasing Babe. It is easier now to hit home runs and accumulate numbers than it was before. But it doesn't take away from what he has done. It's just a different accomplishement than what Hank did. I've also said if Aaron, Mays or Ted Williams played in this era, they would hit far more home runs than they hit in their day. The parks are smaller and the pitching isn't as good.
KT: Yes. Very nice. Bonds's accomplishment will be different because the parks are smaller and the pitching isn't as good. That is totally the difference between Bonds and Aaron. The main thing that comes to mind when I think about Barry Bonds and the HR record is that the parks are smaller. That's totally correct. That's what "Game of Shadows," a national bestseller, is about, right? Parks being smaller? That's why Victor Conte was in jail, correct? Because he designed parks that were too small? And why the Giants' trainer was subpoenaed today? Because he was trafficking in blueprints for tiny parks on the black market? Nice work, Joe. You got right to the heart of what is on the minds of baseball fans everywhere in re: Barry Bonds and the HR record. You totally answered that guy's question. You totally satisfied his request that you "answer this honestly." He wanted your honest opinion -- he went out of his way to request your honest opinion -- about whether or not the smaller average park size in today's game will diminish Barry Bonds's impending HR record. Great work all around, there, Joe.
Nora (St. Louis): Is this the year Albert breaks through and wins his first gold glove? He's been incredible!
Joe Morgan: That's difficult to say. A lot of things are involved in a Gold Glove. It's not always just not making errors. Derrek Lee is built like a perfect first baseman, long and lean, and it will be hard for Albert to supplant him. But he is a Gold Glove quality first baseman for sure.
KT: Here's another answer: the Gold Glove is a farce. It has as much to do with good fielding as the Oscars do for "best acting." It is a popularity contest. Raffy Palmeiro won in a year when he played like 25 games at 1B. It's a stupid award and means nothing. Also, Pujols is a good defensive first baseman. Also, you have a crush on Derrek Lee.
Steve (Boston): Hi Joe, is there any doubt whatsoever that the Red Sox have supplanted the Yankees as the class of the AL East?
Joe Morgan: There is still some doubt. Boston is more interesting to watch. They are fun to watch and they seem to have more joy in how they play the game. But you can never discount the Yankees lineup. They throw a group of stars out there everyday. Boston may have 3 stars and the others contribute well. Boston is a really fun team to watch. The Yankees are more business-like. I guess its like watching a TV drama vs. American Idol.
KT: This may be unfair, Joe, but in order to try to point out how inane that answer was, I am going to reprint it, and edit out a few things:
Boston is more interesting to watch. They are fun to watch. Boston is a really fun team to watch. I guess its like watching American Idol.
Dave, Sacramento: Hi Joe, I love your work, but I'm wondering why you won't read "Moneyball?" It's short, readable, and the pages won't bite, I promise.
KT: I literally cannot wait to read the response. I haven't read it yet. I feel like it's Christmas and I'm nine years old and my parents promised me a dirtbike and there's a dirtbike-shaped present under the tree.
Joe Morgan: I haven't read a lot of books.
KT: Already, I couldn't be happier.
I didn't read Canseco's book or Game of Shadows. I'm not sure the last baseball book I read.
KT: I'm guessing it was "Win Shares" by Bill James? No?
I form my own opinions because I played the game and have 40 years of experience in the game. There isn't much that others can teach me about the game.
KT: The wrongest thing you have ever written.
I've been taught by the best .. the players I played with and against. I know what it takes to win out there.
KT: There is steam coming out of Joe's head and leaking through his computer and coming out of my computer.
I've seen players who are winners and just good players.
KT: I've seen guts, and I've seen determination. I've seen Pete Rose slide head-first into second and bust up a double play with his head. I've seen Bob Gibson throw a baseball clear through a guy's stomach, just to send a message. I've seen Smokey Joe Wood eat a baseball like an apple to intimidate a batter. I've seen Three-Finger Brown shove his whole arm up Honus Wagner's ass when Wagner didn't run out a groundball -- in a goddamn exhibition game!!!! So don't you go telling me about computers!!!!!!!!!!!! Or books!!!!!!!!!!!!! And how they are "good"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don't get enjoyment out of reading baseball books. I'd rather watch a sci-fi movie on TV.
KT: Catch Joe's "Battlestar Galactica" chat on SciFiChannel.com every Tuesday at noon, right after his ESPN chat.
John (Portland, ME): Does Pujols compare to anyone that played back in your era?
Joe Morgan: People won't remember this but the first at bat I ever saw Pujols take was against Houston .. I saw him swing at the first two pitches and I told Jon Miller on the air that he reminded me of Tony Perez because of how aggressive he was and how he attacked the ball. He struck out but homered and doubled later in the game!
KT: FWIW, Pujols is so much better than Tony Perez, it's, like, not even...forget it.
Phil (Stl,MO): Last night you chose Ortiz over Pujols due to success in the post-season. I would encourage you to look at the numbers as it's Pujols who comes out as the much better post-season performer.
KT: Don't ask him to look at numbers! Are you insane?
Joe Morgan: Go look at the numbers!
KT: His head just exploded.
Pujols was OK in the World Series but Ortiz is a big game player. There is an element of luck involved but you have to be the guy who comes to the plate in big situations and come through. I say he is the best big game hitter in baseball but Pujols is the best overall hitter by far.
I looked at the numbers. Pujols is better. Not by a lot, but he's better.
Mark (Chicago): Of all the new ballparks sprouting up around the country, which one would you most want to play in?
Joe Morgan: Probably Cincinnati. Not just because I played there. It just seems like a great park to hit in. But then again, so do so many of the other new parks. They are just built that way now. Houston is almost a joke how easy it is to hit in.
KT: I don't have the 2005 numbers, but here are Minute Maid's ballpark adjustments for hitters for 2004:
BA (105) 2B (97) 3B (134) RH HR (104) LH HR (103)
So, the phrase "Houston is almost a joke how easy it is to hit it," besides barely being English, is also not really true.
San Jose, CA: Why is Bonds struggling i've watched every at-bat of his season and when he swings it looks like it used to when he was hitting tons of HRs i don't get why he isn't hitting them know.
KT: Because he's like 60 years old and isn't allowed to take horse steroids and HGH and female fertility drugs and greenies and (I'm guessing) like nine other things anymore.
Joe Morgan: Injuries slow your bat speed down and makes you try to compensate. I haven't seen that many at-bats but his front knee is not as solid as before. He has a sore left elbow now from throwing the barrel of the bat at the ball. He hit a nice line drive off the wall the other night. He will be just fine. Pitchers are still afraid of him.
KT: But, kind of maybe not as afraid, due to the steroid thing, right Joe? I'm sure you meant to say that.
Joe (Portland, OR): What do you think about the Twins' strategy of easing Francisco Liriano into the rotation? Do you like Seattle's strategy with Felix Hernandez more?
Joe Morgan: It's hard for me to say because I haven't seen the Twins this year.
KT: I know we do this every time, but isn't it just amazing how many questions Joe answers by saying, "I don't know because I haven't seen them?" It's shocking how little baseball he actually watches, for a guy who claims not to need to learn anything from books because he watches games.
Gardenhire knows how to handle young players very well and has done a great job. If he feels this is the right move, I would have to agree with him at this point.
KT: "Well, he's the boss, so his decision must be correct." Joe would have done very well as a Jesuit knight in the time of St. Ignatius.
Max (San Antonio): Joe, Do you think the Marlins move to Texas or does the Miami Gov't finally come to their senses and offers the Marlins a fair legit stadium package?
Joe Morgan: I don't think they will be in Miami. But I have no idea where they might end up.
KT: I totally don't hold that against you. There is absolutely no reason you should have an opinion on where a baseball franchise might relocate to, because you are a data systems analyst for a small software company in Michigan. Right? No? You're an award-winning baseball analyst? My mistake. You should have an opinion on that.
Joe Morgan: Good questions today! Make no mistake about it, in pro sports all the players are good. It's a thin line between good and great. But many times it is intimidation. If pitchers could throw inside more, it would be easier for us to seperate the good hitters from the great hitters. Talk to you next week!
KT: (trying to muster enthusiasm) Can't wait.
Edit: to change "indicted" to "subpoenaed." Thanks to those who wrote in to correct me.
I really enjoyed finding out about Joe's taste in TV. Sci-fi? Really, Joe? Seems a little nerdy, doesn't it? Who's going to tell him that a lot of those sci-fi ideas came from or are direct adaptations of books?
I bet Joe thinks "I, Robot" is the best sci-fi movie ever made and believes Will Smith wrote the book, which he refuses to read because "I just don't read a lot of books."
On a different topic, I believe that Joe is meticulously constructing a completely non-steroids-related case explaining why Barry Bonds is suddenly not as good a hitter. Every time I see him on TV, he seems to be finding minute differences in the angle of Bonds' swing, or talking about the bone chips in his elbow (which just about every major league player has), or mentioning how natural it is that Bonds is declining. Yes, age and injury are clearly factors here, but you can't -- just can't -- keep ignoring the elephant in the room. Unless, of course, you're Joe Morgan.
I Bet You Thought You Could Hide From Us By Appearing on a 3 pm PST SportsCenter, Didn't You, Joe?
Unfortunately, you didn't count on the fact that I would be lying on the couch listening to the TV while recovering from laser eye surgery.
On the brilliantly titled GMC Diamond Cutters feature, Joe tried to explain the higher-than-expected home run frequency of the young 2006 season:
I think more guys swing for the fences now than they were, say four, five years ago. Now, I mean, guys realize, if I can get it, I can get it out of here.
More than say, four, five years ago? You mean like five years ago, as in 2001, when 5,458 home runs were hit in the major leagues, or the second highest total in history? The year Barry Bonds hit a mind-boggling 73, presumably by realizing, hey, if I can get it, I can get it out of here?
Another reason Joe gave is that "a lot of young pitchers are trying to find their way." So I guess there are no young hitters struggling this season. 2006: The Year All Hitters Are Cagey Veterans. Mark it down.
All right, time to put some drops in my eyes, slip on a satin mask, and listen to the sweet sounds of Christmas with the Kranks on Starz! Kids and Family.
I can only imagine how physically painful it must have been for you to slip off that mask and make your way to the Panasonic "Toughbook" (author's embellishment) on your desk and hack away, risking permanent blindness like Tom Cruise pulling off his mask to let that spider-thing scan his new (Asian) eyeballs in "Minority Report," desiring only to record Joe's words for posterity. God bless you, Junior.
I knew I was just blowing off some Gardenhire steam by posting this -- hence the bad grammar -- and I knew that ultimately 47 AB isn't anything to get that upset about. I had just watched Rondy K like four times in a row with guys on 3rd and nobody out...anyway, my steam-blowing-off was best summarized by reader Seth, who writes:
You want a better example of a bad manager? On the same day, the Padres batted their 3rd string catcher, Rob Bowen in the clean-up spot. He didn't play in the majors last year, in his career (2003/2004) he has hit .108/.190/.189, and in the minors (AA/AAA) the past 2 years hit .197/.292/.345 and .267/.366/.401. Now that is a poor clean-up hitter.
Buzzmaster: Hellooooooooo! Joe Morgan is finishing up an interview with Dan Patrick and will be joining us in just a few minutes .. how's everyone feeling after the first week of the season? Still optimistic or already throwing in the towel? Remember, it's a looooong season!
Ken Tremendous: You're telling me, Buzzmaster. I was just in Tahiti for a week, but now I'm back, my head is clear, and I can't wait to--
Joe Morgan: Hello! Baseball is off to an interesting start! A lot of teams we didn't expect to do well are on top already. I'm ready for your questions!
--oh shit. I'm not ready for this.
Vik (Chicago): Joe, why is everyone around Boston trying to get Papelbon into the rotation? They desperately need a closer and he seems to fit that bill pretty well.
Joe Morgan: First of all, a starting pitcher is always better than a closer. It's tougher to get to the ninth inning that it is to close it out. They are hoping Foulke will get back to his closer role. Starters are in much higher demand. Just look back to the Braves and Maddux, Smoltz, etc. They never had a great, dominate closer. But they still won the division.
KT: The hilarious thing about this, to me, isn't just that Joe has seemingly forgotten about like Mark Wohlers and John Rocker and so forth. The hilarious thing to me is that the most dominate [sic] closer in Braves' history was John Smoltz, whom Joe mentions in the sentence about how they never had a dominate [sic] closer.
Tim (Cincinnati, OH): Hey Joe, just picked up the new MLB 2K6 game for the Xbox 360...How long did it take you to record all those lines, your great in it BTW...
Joe Morgan: Tooo long! Actually, last year it took me about 20 hours maybe. This year it was less because we had some things in the box. This year it took maybe 16 hours total.
KT: Nothing too egregious here. I just like the sentence: "This year it was less because we had some things in the box." That makes me laugh.
Jon (New York): Hey Joe, I'm a diehard pirates fan tell me something positive. please?
Joe Morgan: The only thing is that you will need your young pitchers to step up and get it done. Just hope for that.
Jon (New York): What?!? That's the best you can do? That's "something positive?" It's just a weird cliche! I don't even understand what you mean! (kills self)
Carter (Belmont, MA): An article yesterday reported that the Marlins will be forced to trade Dontrelle due to insufficient funding on a new stadium. Which race will become a bigger story: The race for the Rocket or the race for Dontrelle?
Joe Morgan: Obviously it would depend on the teams but I would say Dontrelle.
KT: Cool. He answered the question. The race for Dontrelle will be a bigger story.
He has more long term potential.
Wow. He even explained why. This is going really well.
The Marlins won't be forced to trade Dontrelle.
(Those sentences are consecutive, by the way. No internal editing of Joe's words.)
Casey (Memphis): Manny seems to be getting another slow start? Do you think it's just him aging, or is something of greater concern?
Joe Morgan: Anybody that is concerned about Manny doesn't understand the game. He will put up great numbers as he always does. No reason to be concerned.
KT: I know this is the pat answer to this question, and I know that basically Joe is accidentally using sabermetrics' old friend the Small Sample Size to make his point. However, a more thorough analysis of this question might have involved: Manny had a slow start last April as well, so maybe, just maybe, this is a trend for an almost-34 year-old guy. Or, it might have involved saying something about how he has truly looked horrible at the plate thus far, without any of his trademark balance and plan-of-attack that makes him so tough -- i.e. that it's not like he's been hitting the ball hard, but at people. Failing any of that, Joe, you maybe could have just, I don't know, not outright insulted the guy who was seeking your advice. Try that next time -- you don't even have to do any research!
Vik (Chicago): Do you think Andruw Jones 50 HR season was an aberrition, or can he repeat that performance this year?
Joe Morgan: I don't think it was an abberation.
KT: So you think he will consistently hit 50?
HR hitters hit in cycles and are streaky.
Oh...sorry. You don't think he will consistently hit 50. You think he will be streaky.
It seems to me he will have more hot streaks than before and that will add up close to 50.
Oh...sorry again. You think he will be streaky, but consistently streaky, and will again hit 50. Great.
Denver, CO: Hi Joe, Do you see any production from the big two (Woods and Prior) of the Cubs this year or will it be another bust like 2005?
Joe Morgan: I think they will get some production out of the two this year, but it should be icing on the cake and not the whole cake. I like the Cubs attitude of going forward without them.
CUBS' CLUBHOUSE Chicago, IL 4/14/06
Baker: Guys, bad news. We've lost Prior, and we've lost Wood. Walker: What are we gonna do, skip? Baker: What can we do? We are canceling the season. (Players start packing up gear, making off-season plans, etc. Joe Morgan enters.) Joe Morgan: Hey guys. Listen up. You don't have to give up. There's a different way. Players(in unison; baffled): Huuuuhhhhhh?! Joe Morgan: You can change your attitude to: "let's go forward without them." (Players ponder this; several do old-timey actual scratchings of tops of heads; Baker chews toothpick; several minutes pass) Baker: Let's give it a shot! Players: tossing caps in the air Hurrrrah! Thank you Joe Morgan! Flourish. Exeunt. Curtain.
Tim (Cincinnati, OH): Did you hear Pete Rose's interview on the Dan Patrick show the other day, Do you believe he should be able to get put on the voters card so he can have a chance to get voted in?
Joe Morgan: Someone told me he was on but I didn't hear it. What exactly did he say?
KT: Oh boy. Does Joe understand that computers and phones aren't the same? That this guy can't just answer him? I guess not, because he just continues with the chat.
d (st. louis): Did you see the piece on Darren Daulton? He has some inner demons from his playing days
Joe Morgan: I saw the piece. He was one of my favorite players. I read the story also until it bothered me and I stopped. I didn't like what I was reading. I guess I was disappointed about the jail time, etc. I didn't read the whole thing because it just bothered me.
KT: Joe in a nutshell. Stops doing something that would make him better informed because it "bothers him." This guy is an Emmy-winning journalist, remember.
Josh (Lakeland, FL): Joe now that they have new owenership whats your take on the Devil Rays? Do you think they are moving in the right direction?
Joe Morgan: Tough question. I don't know the new owners or what their gameplan is...
KT: Emmy. Winning. Journalist.
Tim (Cincinnati, OH): What are you more proud of, your two MVP's or two world series rings.
KT: Hardball question from Tim, there, Joe. Be careful how you answer this.
Joe Morgan: They both go hand in hand. I wouldnt' have been MVP without getting to the World Series or have gotten to the World Series without being MVP!
KT: Do I really need to make a list of league MVPs who did not get to the WS? Or teams who got to the WS without the league MVP on their rosters? No, I don't. You all know how stupid a comment this is.
I guess if I had a choice of the two, you always want to win a championship. You get labeled if you are a great player who never won a championship. But I wouldnt' give any of them back!
With all the grade-A shit Mike Celizic is churning out, I'm beginning to think we might have to.
Nothing too exceptional here, just your usual Celizic-level hyperbole, bad humor, Yankee dick-riding, and general wrongness. But, since Joe Morgan, John Kruk, and Rob Dibble (remember that guy?) seem to have heeded our advice and limited their online opinion writing, we'll have to take what we can get.
There’s a buzz in the air around clunky old Shea Stadium these days, a sense of anticipation that hasn’t been felt since the second half of the 1980s when for a brief shining moment the Mets were New York’s darlings.You can insert here the usual caveat about it being too early to declare a pennant race over when it’s barely one week into a six-month schedule. But after you do, take a good look at New York’s other team, the one that is 20 years removed from its last World Series victory.
Wow, three whole sentences into an article about the Mets before you reference the Yankees. Good job, Mikey! What happened? Did your copyeditor object to your original lede: "Yankees! Yankees! Yankees!: A National League East Preview"?
What’s left is a powerful lineup studded with talent: Jose Reyes, a potential superstar shortstop at the top of the order.
I don't think anyone who regularly reads this blog needs to hear our opinions of Jose Reyes yet again, but it bears repeating:
Jose Reyes Lifetime Statistics: .278/.300/.386 (-82 OPS+) 45BB, 145SO, 89XBH in 1190 AB
The Mets have pitching, they have defense, they have offense, and they have a New York kind of guy pulling the strings, former Yankee great Willie Randolph, who’s looking very comfortable in his second year as manager.
Thank god they have a former Yankee pulling the strings! God, could you imagine if they had some idiot like Terry Francona or Bobby Cox! Who other than a Yankee could squeeze production out of such bums as Pedro Martinez, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Billy Wagner, and Paul LoDuca? And the characterization of Willie Randolph as a Yankee "great" is pretty much the definition of "tenuous." Wait, no. That's the wrong word. What word am I looking for? Hmm..."Wrong?" It is pretty much the definition of "wrong." That's better.
It shouldn’t take long to find out just how good they are. On April 17, they play a three-game series against the Braves, who are to the Mets what Boston is to the Yankees. By May 7, they Mets will have finished a third series with Atlanta — nine games in all.
Umm, sort of. I would probably switch that around a bit. The more apt analogy, considering the Braves' 14 consecutive division championships and the Yankees' 8 would be Red Sox:Yankees::Mets:Braves. Nitpicky, yes, but correct.
So these nine upcoming games [against the Braves] are crucial. Win six of them, and the season is theirs. Win five and the prospects of a happy October get much brighter.
What? Repeat: what? Are you kidding me? Are you honestly suggesting that winning 6 of 9 over three weeks in April and May can seal the season for the Mets? Don't get me wrong, the Mets are good. And if they won 6 of 9 that would be a good thing, but come on, Mike Celizic.
Close losses indicative of experienced, talented team that wants to win
"Close losses indicative of...team that wants to win?" Most teams don't want to win? You can tell by these close losses that a team wants to win, say, more than any other team? More than, like, a team that's been winning? The hell? Wait -- experienced and talented too? There's so much going on in that one phrase, my head is spinning.
Must be a mistake. MSNBC must've thrown some 22-year-old intern a bone, letting him fill in the subheadline that Celizic forgot to include. The intern probably skimmed the article, totally misunderstood what was being written, and submitted this copy to his editor without thinking it through. He was still kind of stoned from last night, didn't get much sleep, and to be honest, was really thinking more about his girlfriend and whether her irrational fanaticism for the band Jawbreaker will be the proverbial camel-straw in their relationship.
So, that explains it. I mean, not even Mike Celizic could possibly think that losing close games exhibits talent, a desire to win, or whatever it is they harvest from those magic fucking beanstalks in pinstriped fields, fertilized by Steinbrenner's --
This edition of the Yankees isn’t going to stagger through the first couple months of the season like last year’s team did.
Mike, I'm trying to ramble, here. Could I just...? Thanks. Okay.
Like I was saying, not even the moldy brain of Mike Celizic could produce a notion as astronomically retarded as -- You can see that already, not in the two big wins in which they scored 25 runs, but in the four losses that leave them in last place.
Hypothetical 22-year-old intern, you're off the hook. Celizic is at it again.
Now, before I go any further, the truth is, I agree with some of what Celizic's saying. Teams that lose many close games and win in blowouts are likely to see more wins in their future. (Pyth W-L rec, etc. -- you've heard it all before.) And like Celizic, I don't see the Yankees continuing to lose at this pace. (For that matter, you have to wonder how many people really think the first 5 or 6 games are any real sort of indication of how good the Yanks will be over the whole course of the year.)
Of course, Celizic can't just chalk up his prediction to runs scored and runs allowed -- he's got more in mind. Remember, those close losses showed Celizic that this team "wants to win."
Scoring 15 runs in their first game probably didn’t help, serving to make the hitters try for even bigger totals instead of just going with the flow; giving them a false sense of their own omnipotence. Add to that the pressure of George Steinbrenner sending them off into the season by stating flatly that the 2006 Yankees would win the World Series this year, and you have all the ingredients for a couple of lost series.
Of course. The-First-Game-Gave-Me-The-Impression-That-We-Could-Just-Spend-The-Whole-Season-Padding-Our-Stats Syndrome. That old chestnut.
The problem wasn’t a lack of effort, but too much of it.
So, if I'm reading this correctly, Celizic believes that the reason the Yankees will start winning is because eventually they will start trying less hard. Don't get me wrong -- I think the effects of effort in baseball are pretty overestimated, but is he really suggesting that the Yankees will benefit from not trying so hard to, what, hit home runs?
The good news for the Yankees is that it’s easy to choke a short series, but impossible to choke a full season. Sooner or later, when you play six days a week for six months, you just say, “screw it” — or words to that effect — and go out and play the game.
The first part I can live with. Again, a reference to Expected (PYTH) W-L Records might be useful. But, I mean, this is Mike Celizic we're talking about, so let's not get hysterical.
But that's not why Celizic likes the Yankees' chances of rebounding. He thinks that soon, they'll say "screw it," or something similar, and this utterance -- perhaps indirectly -- will lead to more victories. In other words, MC fans, they haven't been winning because they haven't been "go[ing] out and play[ing] the game." Last year at this time, I was already writing that the Yankees were in trouble. Though they won the division, I was right.
"Last year, I predicted that 'Pooh's Heffalump Movie' would win the Oscar for Best Picture. Though 'Crash' won, I was right."
Bonus: Celizic also predicted that Hideki Matsui, not A-Rod, would win the 2005 AL MVP. Double Bonus: April 7, 2005: Mariano Rivera is finished. I Can't Help Myself Bonus: Celizic says Clemens will leave Astros by end of 2005.
I know they’re not a 2-4 team, and they won’t sleep-walk through the first couple of months like they did last year.
So, bottom line. This year, the Yankees' problem is trying too hard. Last year, their problem was somnambulism.
Jon Miller: Leadoff man's job number one: get on base.
Joe Morgan: The funny thing, Jon ... they go hand in hand. If you do not hit, they're not gonna walk you. They didn't walk Rickey Henderson all the time because he couldn't hit. You have to be able to hit the ball, get some base hits, you have to have a pretty decent average or they're not gonna walk you.
Last year, two of the top four leaders in walks in all of Major League Baseball batted .271 and .247.
Joe Morgan: Well, he [David Eckstein] is hitting .182 and Encarnacion is not hitting well either, but you know that these guys are going to hit. I know definitely that Eckstein's gonna get on base 'cause he'll find a way to get on base and Pujols, although he's 0 for 7 in this series, he will get hot again.
What happened to David Eckstein's magical ability to find a way to get on base in 2003, when he OBPed .325? Or 2004, the following year, when he willed himself onto the basepaths 33.9 percent of the time? I'll tell you who really finds a way to get on base: a dude like Brian Giles.
Live From Joe Morgan's Brain, It's Sunday Night (Inanities)!
Clunkiest post title ever? Hopefully. I'm pretty hung over. The best tonic for my ills, naturally, is a dose of good ol' Sunday Night Baseball, America's number one rated show about Sunday night baseball. And at precisely 5:02 PST, Joe Morgan delivered the stupid once again, proving he hasn't lost a step in the offseason.
Jon Miller: Tonight, we're thrilled because this Cardinal ballclub, with that great talent in the middle of the lineup, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds, and one of the most impressive all-around players -- all-around hitters, especially -- we've seen on Sunday Night Baseball: Albert Pujols.
Joe Morgan: Well, Jon, he's the MVP of the National League, but he could've won two or three more if it wasn't for Barry Bonds. Not only is he a great hitter, not only is he a great baserunner, not only is he a great defensive player, but he is also a great team player, and that's what's more important.
More important than his hitting? Truly, Joe, it is good to have you back spouting nonsense once again.
Everything that he does, he does it for the team.
This is such a good point. I can't emphasize this enough. Guys have to do stuff for their team. For instance, last year, Travis Hafner accidentally hit 24 home runs for the Diamondbacks. (Fortunately, Michihiro Ogasawaraof the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters hit exactly 24 home runs for the Indians, so things evened out.)
And when your best player is also your best team player, you're way ahead of the game.
You will never. Ever. Ever. Convince me that David Eckstein is not the Cardinals' best team player. Ever.
Then, at 5:04 PST:
Jon Miller: The Cubs also have a little bit of a different look this year. They brought over the basestealer, Juan Pierre.
Joe Morgan: Well, Jon, I think they need a little bit of a different look.
Huh. You're in favor of a guy who is an OBP black hole (or at least was in 2005) but attempts a lot of steals. Do tell.
Over 42% of their runs were scored by the home run. That means that you're just living and dying by the home run.
Over 42%, Joe? Awfully precise for a guy who believe computers abducted his young children and forced them to read cyber-Communist literature. I don't have the data for total runs scored on home runs per team, but let's do a back of the envelope-type comparison. I'm going to use the ratio of home runs to total runs, which should give us a rough idea of if a team is doing too much "living and dying" by the home run.
In 2005, the Chicago Cubs hit 194 home runs and scored 703 runs, for a HR/R ratio of 0.276. The scrappy, gutty, run-like-crazy, smallball, smartball, Guillen-led Southsiders who won the World Series on pure heart and guts and scraps hit 200 home runs and scored 741 runs, for a HR/R ratio of 0.270. That's right, the difference between these two teams was the difference between the batting averages of 2005 Edgar Renteria (.276) and 2005 Royce Clayton (.270). So there you go. You can win the World Series by hitting a lot of home runs and not having much else going on on offense. We know this because the White Sox did it just last year. But of course, I bet if you asked Joe, he would've recommended the Pale Hose pick up Pierre in the offseason as well. Can you imagine? Two speedy leadoff men in one lineup! How could they lose?
Well, now they have Juan Pierre, one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, one of the best basestealers in the game, and one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game. So he's going to change the game for these one-run losses that they had a lot of last year. He's going to make a big difference in close ballgames, and I guarantee you before this season is over, the fans here at Wrigley Field are going to love Juan Pierre.
One way he's going to make a difference is by turning those close ballgames into routs for the opposition. Because Juan Pierre made a lot of outs last season. He OBPed .326, and that's bad. It's not Jose Reyes-bad, but it's close. And the Cubs, by plugging new acquisitions Pierre and Jacque Jones (2005 OBP .319) into the lineup every day, are likely costing themselves a lot of runs over the long haul, no matter what absoutely incorrect things Joe Morgan is saying about them on April 9th.
I thought they could get through a whole one-hour episode of Baseball Tonight without saying something outrageously, brain-stem-tinglingly dumb. Of course, I was a fool to have any faith in the Murderer's Row of Idiots that is Chris Berman, John Kruk, Harold Reynolds and Steve Phillips. Thirty-eight minutes in, we were treated to the following exchange:
Chris Berman: Who's the best lefty right now in your guys' minds, other than Phil Mickelson, in the bigs?
Clever. Topical. Phil Mickelson is in the news.
Steve Phillips: Well, I'm gonna tell you, I'm gonna go a little bit different because I know that these two guys over here are rather predictable with their picks. I'm gonna go with Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians.
Cue highlight package of Cliff Lee accomplishing his astounding tied-for-25th in the majors WHIP of 1.22 last year. This didn't happen, but it should've.
SP: Won 18 games last year. 18 and 5. This young guy is coming into his own as a pitcher. I think over the next few years, he's going to emerge as one of the best lefties in the game. There's no question about it. This kid has dominating stuff. He can get the strikeout. He gets the ground balls, and he pitches in big games. Cliff Lee, developing into one of the best lefties in the game.
The analysis on BBTN has sunk to new lows, even for these guys. Picking Cliff Lee as the best lefty in the game is basically a direct "f you" to the viewing audience. Steve Phillips is essentially saying "I will feed you blatant misinformation if you continue to watch this show. Everything I say will in fact be the opposite of true. I know nothing about baseball."
The correct answer is Johan Santana.
SP: (Preemptively defensive, anticipating a well-deserved skewering.) Okay, give me some predictability now.
Harold Reynolds: (Incredulous.) I like Cliff Lee. C.C. Sabathia is the best pitcher -- the best lefty on that team!
Incredible. Harold Reynolds, in responding to one of the stupider statements of our lifetimes, manages to be nearly as wrong as Phillips. Last year, Cliff Lee was better than C.C. Sabathia in almost every way. Better WHIP, better ERA, better ERA+, more innings, even more wins, which isn't important, but still. It's close between the two, but if you look at the 2005 results, it's hard to make an argument for Sabathia. You could perhaps justify saying Sabathia is better based on his fine 2003 season, but he's been in decline for the past two years.
Anyway, Reynolds goes on to pick Randy Johnson, which is borderline defensible. John Kruk, of all people, saves the day and picks Santana. Thank you, John Kruk, for being right for the first time in your life.
Put down your calculator and strap on your hustlin' shoes, Sonny, the Man is back. That's right. Joseph Leonard Morgan. The Big Red Machine. Joltin' Joe. Mr. Baseball. The Babe. Charlie Hustle. Wild Thing. The Georgia Peach. Roberto "Remember the" Alomar. Ichiro. They didn't call him many of those things, but they probably should've. He was that good.
And now he's hunched over a (gasp) computer, shooting his knowledge from his keyboard straight atcha via a vast network of silicon chips and fiber optic cables, thanks to science and technology and objective thinking and overall human progress, all of which he is firmly against.
I thought last season was a great season for MLB and more fans than ever came out to watch. It was a very interesting postseason with some new blood. I think that might happen again this year. I'm ready for your questions!
When Joe says "new blood," I'm pretty sure he's referring to a brand new blog started just last year with the sole purpose of getting him fired. Thanks for the love, Joe! I'm ready for your answers!
Frank (Miami East): Joe, Reds' fan here. You are my favorite Red of all time. Does the demise of the Reds in the last ten years pain you or does your different perspective allow you to distance yourself emotionally?
Joe Morgan: First and foremost, I'm a fan. I'm a fan first and broadcaster second.
Interesting. I would have arranged the rankings this way: 1. Fan 2. Traditionalist 3. Old Baseball Guy 4. Believer in Fundamentals 5. Luddite 6. SABRhater 7. Member of the Flat Earth Society 8. Conspirator in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole (this is conjecture) 9. Sports Emmy winner and perennial nominee 10. Objectionably bad broadcaster
Tyler (Boston, MA): How do you see the AL east shaking down now that Toronto is a "contender"?
Joe Morgan: I'm happy you think they are a contender. I'm not sure they are a true contender, though. They spent lots of money but some of their moves are overrated. I'm sure they will be better, I'm just not sure they will compete with NY and Boston. I think they overpaid for some players and overvalued them.
Joe, I'm shocked. That is a downright decent answer. You sort of responded to the question (although you didn't really give your rankings in the AL East). And you mentioned that some of the players Toronto acquired may have been "overpaid" and "overvalued." Overvalued? Be careful, Joe! That's the kind of talk that may compel a computer to write a book about you!
Lance (Detroit, MI): Joe, don't you think baseball needs more Scott Podsedniks and David Ecksteins and less Adam Dunns? Teams win because these speedsters can lay down a bunt and don't strike out all the time.
THANK YOU, LANCE FROM DETROIT. Somebody had to say it. I'm glad you had the balls, Lance. I am sick of these jerks like Adam Dunn striking out 90% of the time. And when they do get on, they clog up the basepaths like some kind of jerks. And you know what else is overrated? Home runs. Snooze!
Joe Morgan: To be honest, a good team needs both! You need players who can hit it out and also guys who can manufacture runs. Great teams have both those things.
Has this guy turned over a new leaf in 2006? I mean, don't get me wrong. The correct answer is: a team of 9 Adam Dunns would score around 8 runs a game and obliterate the competition. The Cincinnati Dunns wouldn't really need any Podsedniks and Ecksteins making extraneous outs for them. But still. The fact that Joe didn't take any pot shots at OPS monsters or guys who strike out a lot amazes me. I'm proud of you, Joe.
Tim D (Chicago): Why is everyone so hung up on on-base percentage? I think doing the little things and playing hard is more important. What do you think Joe?
Perfect question, Tim D (Chicago). You are in the right chat, my friend. The questioners are really impressing me more than Joe is today, frankly. Classic grammar error also: "doing the little things and playing hard is more important." Tim D assumes that on-base percentage and playing hard are mutually exclusive.
Joe Morgan: Very good question. OBP is very important, BUT it is important for certain players and not so much for others.
Um, no. It's important for everyone not to make outs because outs are bad. Even if Scott Podsednik makes them. What you said is like saying "getting outs is important for some pitchers, but not so much for others."
Mark McGwire couldn't do a lot of things on the bases and hit a lot of HRs. It's not as important as someone like Posednik who can do things when he is on base.
Okay. I think you mean "it's not as important for someone like Podsednik." I hope. And again, that's simply not true. Yes, Scott Podsednik can run fast. But that talent hardly makes up for an inability to get on base at a decent rate (in Podsy's case, he was fine in 2005 but pretty miserable in 2004). People have done the work and shown that OBP dwarfs speed (defined in almost any way) in terms of correlation with runs created. And I love the threatening tone of the phrase "can do things when he is on base." Imagine Robert De Niro (though I can't bear to do so lately because of a rather off-color story about him Murbles told me) saying "Scott Podsednik's gonna get on base, and when he gets there, he's gonna do some things." Scary, huh? But if you think about it, he can really only do one thing: run faster than McGwire. Sure, that means he can maybe try to steal (even though it may not be advisable depending on his rate of success), and maybe you put a tiny amount of pressure on the pitcher (although this effect is, I believe, as yet unproven). But what's the tangible gain for his team? It's not that great, quantitatively speaking.
People have fallen in love with OBP to prove the worth of players but it is more important for some players than others.
People have "fallen in love" with OBP because it's a halfway decent measure of a hitter's worth. At least it's better than batting average or runs or RBI. And what you're saying still doesn't make sense. OBP can be a large component of a player's value because he lacks other skills (see Youkilis, Kevin). It can be overvalued in the financial marketplace of baseball. But you still have 27 outs as a team, and OBP is a measure of how well you're doing at not getting out. And you didn't answer the question yet, Joe. Tim D thinks doing the little things and playing hard are more important. What do you think?
Remember, OBP, if it is not tied to run production, is not a big deal. Run production is how you should judge a player. Certain players at the top of the order should have high OBP because that is their job, to get on base. Guys in the middle of the lineup should be driving in those runs.
It's everyone's job to get on base (except in very rare, specific late-game situations). I don't know how I can explain this any more clearly. Joe's beliefs are more rigid than the Catholic Church's. On a side note, I wonder if Joe is still skeptical of Galileo's recent discoveries.
Ephraim R. (Maple Shade, NJ): Joe, i tossed out this question yesterday, and would like an old pro's opinion: do you think we're entering a golden-age of 3rd basemen? Between Rolen/Wright/Cabrera/Blaylock, Chevez/Encarnacion/Zimmerman/Ramirez plus at least 4-5 prospects/young stars I failed to mention, I get the sense that 3rd base is stronger than it has ever been.
Joe Morgan: Every position goes through cycles. Remember the SS position with Nomar, Jeter, Tejada, etc. There was a time awhile back with a lot of great 2B. Maybe we are in a golden age of 3B but it is still early and we'll have to see how some of them grow and produce.
Vintage Joe! Dodges the question, speaks in platitudes, declines to go out on a limb. And as a bonus, he implicitly refuses to acknowledge that players might be better now than they were in the past. "Maybe we are in a golden age of 3B," but more likely things'll never be as golden as they were in the 70's.
victor alexandria,la: hey joe who do you think will be commissiner of baseball after bud selig retires?
Joe Morgan: I haven't thought about it. The owners will decide if they want someone from inside the game or go with someone from the outside. I thought they would look at other people before Bud so I've been wrong before.
Johnny (Terre Haute): Hey Joe, what's your favorite ice cream flavor?
Joe Morgan: I haven't thought about it. Chocolate is a flavor, and so is strawberry. Vanilla is another flavor. I've been wrong about my favorite flavor before.
Johnny (Terre Haute): Isn't this a computer chat with the sole purpose of allowing you to express your opinions on ice cream flavors?
Joe Morgan: (rocks back and forth in chair, dreams about ice creams from the 1970's) Hmm, yes, that was a good one.
Johnny (Terre Haute): What?
Joe Morgan: Dave Concepcion. Now that was an ice cream flavor that knew how to taste the right way. Without any numbers.
Hey guys. Just wanted to say what's up, since I've been out of the country for a while, and unable to post stuff on the blog. I sure hope nobody broke into my house and used my computer to write you guys e-mails that said crazy stuff about how I was too busy to attack Joe Morgan. Wouldn't that be a shame, especially if you were dumb enough to believe I would ever say anything like that. Anyway, now I'm back, and ready to go!
P.S. I'm going to Tahiti tomorrow. No joke. Back in a week.
It was also clear that the producers, Tollin/Robbins Productions, award-winning creators of quality films ("Radio") and television shows ("Arli$$"), would tell the story well.
Yeah, these guys know their stuff! Radio? Arli$$? Money in the bank, motherf-er! Where do I sign up? You know this shit's going to be good! Damn!!! I hope they switch it up and make Radio the TV Show and Arli$$ the Movie! Or what about a crossover? Arli$$ Meets Radio! Here's the premise: Superagent Arli$$ Michaels (Robert Wuhl) signs a mysterious developmentally challenged football player known only as Radio (Omar Gooding (couldn't meet Cuba's asking price)) to a lucrative deal to be the player-mascot for the New Jersey Comets. The crusty old owner (James Cromwell) can't stand Radio's hilarious antics (his face reddens and he shakes his fist as he yells "Radio!!!" to the heavens), but the New Jersey fans learn to love Radio and adopt him as one of their own despite his league-leading 47 fumbles and 9 touchdowns for the opposing team. Can you imagine??!!
(Disclosure: Tollin/Robbins partner Mike Tollin and I attended college together at Stanford, where we shared an interest in radio broadcasting and softball.)
"I wanted to tell all of you out there who have watched the show for the past 15 years that after listening to my heart and my gut, two things that have served me pretty well in the past, I've decided I'll be leaving 'Today' at the end of May," Couric said.
Your heart and your gut, huh? Should've checked a spreadsheet full of acronyms and numbers, Couric.
''Do I use VORP?" Colletti said, referring to one such sabermetric tool, Value Over Replacement Player. ''I may be using it and not even know it, and if I am, it's nobody's business. There are a lot of different criteria in judging players. I think I use, um, esoteric qualitative mathematical review times five. That's one of them."
You would think if you were a baseball general manager, and you hadn't bothered to learn anything about baseball statistical evaluation, you might just keep your mouth shut. Or at least, be 1% respectful of what might be a useful tool in your line of business. Instead, Colletti sounds like an old codger mistrustful of the newfangled ideas in this day and age. If Ned Colletti were alive in Islamic Spain in the 11th century, he would be saying, "Astrolabe? I don't be needin' no damn astrolabe! I gauge where the sun and stars are gonna be usin' my gut and my peepers and my pointin' fingers!"
Also, I think he means quantitative, not qualitative. Numbers are quantitative. Math is quantitative. An old guy sitting in the stands judging the symmetry of a prospect's face is qualitative.
That was Colletti's way of saying he still does it the old-fashioned way. ''I like scouts with 20, 30, 40 years experience who can tell if a player knows how to play the game, who read how a guy's body works, who knows how he responds in big situations, who knows how to examine a medical history, who can take the measure of a guy's desire to be great."
Knows how to play the game. Empty cliche.
How a guy's body works. Vague. Probably impossible to judge.
How he responds in big situations. How often will a scout see a guy in a "big situation"? 3 times? 5? 15 if he's lucky? Good luck judging a dude's hypothetical clutch factor with that sample size.
How to examine a medical history. Yes, people should do this. Doctors, mainly.
The measure of a guy's desire to be great. Well, yes, if a guy is obviously a lazy slob, he probably won't be that good for your team. But let me ask you, could you tell me which of these guys has more desire to be great (DTBG)?
Michael Young or Derek Jeter Alex Gonzalez or Alex S. Gonzalez Josh Willingham or Jarrod Saltalamacchia Ken Griffey, Jr. or Gary Matthews, Jr.
I bet there are differences in their VORPs, though.