FIRE JOE MORGAN: I Have Good News and Bad News


Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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Saturday, April 12, 2008


I Have Good News and Bad News

The Good News is: JoeChats are back!!!!!

The Bad News is: not really.

Something has happened, you guys. Someone, I think, finally stepped in and gathered all the ESPN interns together and said: "Attention, dummies. One of you, every week, is going to sit at a computer and type in Joe's responses to these chat questions. I want you to take what he says and clean it up. Don't change the answer, just clean it up. Do a little on-the-fly editing. Maybe toss in a few actual facts -- make it so he doesn't look like a complete ignoramus. And before you hit 'return,' you spell-check, and you grammar-check, do you understand? So help me God, if I see one 'concetrate' you're all fired."

This is pure conjecture. But something has happened. Because the chat is about as exciting as...every other on-line chat with normal chat-answerers. To wit:

Scott, (Williamsburg, VA):
Should Tiger fans worry about how the season has started?

Joe Morgan: You always worry, because if you get off to such a poor start, it becomes a mental problem. Guys start to press sooner and a lot of things start to happen. But with the lineup they have, they should be alright. They are capable of winning ten or twelve in a row.

The Joe I know would have expounded on the "mental problem," and perhaps wildly ascribed all sorts of phenomena to that mental problem, talked about how there are no great teams anymore, and then said something crazy about Dave Concepcion. This is far too concise and level-headed.

Brandyn S. - Chicago, IL: Joe - how much of an impact do you think the long road trip to Japan and then Canda had on Boston's slow start?

Joe Morgan: I think it had a lot to do with it. Boston's first two weeks of the season were set up for failure. For them to have to travel such a long distance, it set them up not to get off to a good start. I don't think it was fair to make the World Champions have to go through that.

No "when I was on the Reds..." or "when I was World Champion..." or anything.

Doug (Cincinnati)
Joe, What is your take on the Reds this year? Do you think they can make a run for the playoffs?

Joe Morgan: It's too early for anyone to panic in Detroit, or for people to start printing playoff tickets in Cincinnati. I like what I've seen there, and with Cueto, Volquez, Harang, and Arroyo pitching well, they have the potential to be a playoff team. It'll depend on the young pitchers.

Dead giveaway that someone else is at the reigns. First of all, the construction of the sentence "It's too early for panic...and optimism" is a thousand times more sophisticated than the average JoeResponse. But second, and more importantly: no fucking way Joe can rattle off Cueto, Volquez, Harang, and Arroyo that fast. No way. I don't care if it is the Reds -- the Joe I know would have said something about Dusty Baker "having them in a position to win" or "bringing a winning mentality" to Cincy. Then he would have said that Tony Perez should be in the Hall of Fame, that when he played he had to walk sixteen miles from the on-deck circle to the plate uphill each way, and the word "consistency" would have appeared 1000 times in a row, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"-style.

casey (san francisco, CA):
As a diehard sf giants fan (and a frustrated one) i realize that the franchise is, to simply put it, a mess. What do you suggest the management do to turn things around in the bay, no matter how long it takes?

Here's a game you can play at home. Write Joe's answer to this question. Do it before you read his real answer. Then we'll compare the two. Here's my answer:

Joe Morgan [Ken Tremendous]: Well they need picthing, that's one thing. The Giants were all about Bonds, and now Bonds is gone. They have Vizquel who is still a wizard at short but they need the offense? I haven't seen them play this year, but when you lose a Barry Bonds you are going to have to replace that. Thjere is a lot of veterans on the team, so maybe they can rely on the veterans. Someone needs to step up.

You all probably had some version of that, right? Vague, rambling nonsense. Here's "his" "real" answer:

Joe Morgan: It's not going to be an overnight fix. The offense is a mess and the pitching may be as well. They have put a lot of pressure on Cain and Lincecum. Barry Zito is not the Barry Zito of old, and the pressure on their young pitchers will show. Their offense is just--I don't know where they will score runs. Their two most productive hitters--Bonds and Feliz--are gone. It's going to take a long time before the Giants are a contender in the West.

Sorry. That's not Joe being Joe. It just isn't. Cain and Lincecum? Barry Zito? Knowing that Pedro Feliz isn't on the team anymore? And the whole thing just...flows. It's a nice, well-organized, flowing stream of non-nonsense. And the way that that one sentence shows an interrupted thought: "Their offense is just -- I don't know where they will score runs." That's not a thing you type. That's a thing you say, out loud, and a court stenographer-type enters it into a chat window.

Eric (NYC): Hi Joe. What do you think of the Rays' decision to start the season with super-prospect Evan Longoria down in AAA? What kind of message does this send to the fans and to the rest of the team who are deperate for a winner?

Joe Morgan:
If they're sending him down so that his arbitration situation will be put off a year, it's a joke to the fans and the teammates. If that's the reason, baseball should take a look at it and change that. It should not be normal procedure.

Okay, so this isn't the most eloquent answer ever. But Joe out-of-nowhere suggesting that a Tampa Bay front-office decision about Evan Longoria was based on the fucking arb rules? Are you serious, ESPN intern who is now just typing the answers himself while Joe talks on the phone to his kids?! How dumb do you think I am, that I would believe that Joe Morgan (a) knows who Evan Longoria is or (b) would know that he's in the minors or (c) that he would have an opinion on why he was sent down based on the fucking ticking-clock arbitration rules?! Give me some credit, ESPN Intern Who Is Now Typing Answers All By Himself While Joe Gets a Clark Bar From the Vending Machine.

Thomas (Toronto):
Joe, do you like the Jay's chances? You've gotta like the addition of gamers like Eckstein and Rolen.

Nice. Good call, Thomas -- let's do an old-fashioned JoeBait. That'll get him fired up. This should be good.

Joe Morgan:
Rolen has had a lot of injuries the past few years. Eckstein is a guy who knows how to win and plays to win.

Okay...okay...not the best start ever, but pretty good...keep going...

Rolen does the same thing when healthy. But they are a good team, they have excellent pitching. Starting pitching is still the key to winning, because it takes pressure off your middle relief and closers. You need to have good starting pitching to be World Champions.

It's like he came back from the vending machine and tossed off a few nonsenses, and the Intern filtered them and sanitized the crazy. And we're left with...pfffft.

Eric (NYC):
Hi Joe! I agree with you that Roberto Clemente is the greatest Puerto-Rican born player ever, but Pudge is something special too. He's the greatest defensive Catcher in history in my opinion. Your thoughts?

Joe Morgan:
Apparently some people didn't understand what I was saying on Sunday night. I played against Roberto Clemente, and Willie Mays said he was the greatest player he played against. All the things Guillen cited about Alomar, that he could beat you in every way, were true about Clemente, but he had greater power. I've said that I would never compare anybody defensively to Johnny Bench, but Ivan Rodriguez was on par with him. But I still think Clemente was better. If Clemente (or George Brett or Rod Carew) were hitting in this era, with smaller ballparks and livelier pitching, they'd hit .370 every year. they wouldn't, obviously, and this answer is a little crazier than the previous ones. It still doesn't have that je ne sais quoi de sinistre that we know and love and fear and mock. But maybe Joe got sick of that young whippersnapper clattering away on the keyboard and decided to take over for himself for a while...

Scott Miami, FL: What's your opinion of the Marlins this year?

Joe Morgan:
They've got possibly the best player in the league. I know a lot of people do not think that way. He can do everything, and can hit from power from shortstop.

KT: Haven't said his name yet.

He's a special player.

What's his name, Joe?

The other guys do not have as good a track record.

You're just stalling now. What's his name?

Ramirez gets better each year.

There it is.

The Marlins will be only as good as he is. His production will depend on how much other teams pitch to him.

Seems like the old Joe, right? But get this:

Joe Morgan: If you use statistics, last year he was the most productive player in the league.

I just accidentally swallowed my computer. Hang on.


Joe Morgan said: "If you use statistics, last year H-Ram was the most productive player in the league."

Fuck. Just swallowed my computer again accidentally. I am typing this with my epiglottis. Hang on.

There we go.

In 2007, Hanley Ramirez did not win the NL Batting Title. He did not hit the most HR, or score the most runs, or have the most hits. He did not have the highest SLG or OBP. He didn't lead the league in SB or 2B or 3B or really any individual category. So, the only way that Joe could really mean what he says, is if he's talking about...


Hanley led the NL in VORP last year, at 89.5. David Wright was second at 81.1.

Is it possible -- is it remotely possible? -- that Joe knows about VORP?

I just swallowed my computer and the coffee table it was on and my arm up to the elbow.

Mark (New York):
Hi, Joe. What do you think of the Yankees pitching staff to start off the year?

Joe Morgan:
They're like everyone else--not consistent, but with some great starts. Wang was great, but Kennedy did not pitch well. At this point, everyone is trying to gain consistency. Right now, that's the big problem with every time. You see a lot of teams around.500, and that's the reason.

Now this -- this is Joe Morgan. Two "consistents." A complete non-sequitor with accompanying typo: "Right now, that's the big problem with every time." A sweeping generalization about every team being mediocre, and a corresponding lack of context, given that after very few games, most teams will be around .500, because even a team that is going to play .600 ball the whole year would probably only be like 6-4 (or 4-6, or 2-8 if they got unlucky). Thank God. If Joe had said something about small sample sizes I might have freaked out and unhinged my jaw like a snake and swallowed the internet.

Here's his closing salvo:

Joe Morgan:
I felt it is best for Detroit to get on the road, to take some of the pressure off of Miguel Cabrera, but they go to Boston now, and Boston seems ready to get on a roll. This road trip wasn't the one I had in mind for the Tigers, but I expect them to play better on the road. The other thing is that next week, we'll have a better feel for which teams are starting to gain consistency and which teams we have to worry about.

Again. A nice mention of "consistency," but is this really Joe? Is this a real JoeChat?

Long-time enthusiasts of this blog will remember that this has happened before, and like then, we wish only for Joe's speedy return to the keyboard. Stay tuned. This might get interesting.

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posted by Unknown  # 4:35 PM
Reader Steph has some more evidence of nefarious doings:

I was particularly alarmed at Joe's response to the very first question and I can't believe you didn't mention this: Joe answered a question about the Tigers without once mentioning Gary Sheffield, and how Sheffield will single-handedly turn the Tigers' season around and carry the team to a Central Division championship...when he recovers from his latest injuries, of course. Hopefully Joe's consistency will come back soon and you won't have to swallow the whole internet.
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