FIRE JOE MORGAN: Analysis

FIRE JOE MORGAN

Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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

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Friday, August 01, 2008

 

Analysis

You're a ChiSox fan. Against all odds, your team is +76 in run differential and leading the AL Central. Your GM, who can be a dunderhead sometimes, made excellent moves last off-season, and got you Carlos Quentin and Nick Swisher, and even though Swish is underperforming a bit, somehow Jermaine Dye is having his best year, and Jim Thome is putting up an .890 OPS, and you're getting some great innings out of John Danks and Gavin Floyd, and Scott Linebrink is making bloggers everywhere look stupid since we all thought getting him was a terrible move.

In short, things are going really well.

Then, at the trade deadline, your GM goes out and gets: Ken Griffey, Jr.

Who's good. Who might make your team better. But who is 38. And gets hurt a lot.

And then Ken Williams says: We're going to play him in CF, and maybe move Swisher to first, and (presumably) bench Paul Konerko (?). Or something?

Huh.

Needless to say, if you're you, you're a little confused by this. At least you're wary. Junior hasn't played CF since like 1965, and is Konerko going to DH against lefties or something? And how would Konerko take it if he's benched since he makes $12m a year through 2010, because, again, your GM can be a dunderhead sometimes? And what in the world is a defensive OF of Dye, Griffey, and Quentin going to look like?

In times like these, you, a ChiSox fan, have only one place to turn for analysis. There is only one place you go to get the real insider "here's what this means" and "here's what we can expect" breakdown.

You turn to the Trib. You turn...to Mike Downey.

Ken Griffey Jr. in a Sox Uniform? I'm Stoked

He's stoked, you guys. He and his boys are psyched. Dude. Bro. Seriously? I'm fucking stoked about this. Griffbones is going to crush it.

I zipped over to the Web sites as fast as my fingers could type Thursday to find out if it was fiction or fact.

I forgot I am a journalist and don't have to get information the way everyone else does, so instead of talking to my colleagues or calling someone in the Reds' FO or something, I "zipped" over to the "Web sites" as fast as "my fingers could type." Because I have never used a computer, and don't know how to, and had to ask my 5 year-old nephew what someone who used a computer would say if they wanted to tell people they had used a computer.

Cincinnati Enquirer, 9:47 a.m.: "Reds trade Griffey."

Not might trade. No "trade Griffey?" with a question mark. Did trade.

And to the White Sox yet!

And to the White Sox yet! Say boys, didja hear? Junior Griffey is to be a Chicagoan! Well slap my thigh and call me a dirigible! Roosevelt has a plan for the Krauts, by Joe! Extree, extree! Say, what news from the coast? Harvard defeats Cal in the Rose Bowl! The Maine is lost! Thousands gather to see new "Talking Pictures" -- the marvels of science never cease!

The Tribune, 9:36 a.m.: "Griffey headed to Sox."

Sorry. Just want to make sure I have the timeline correct.

8:?? or 9:?? AM: The Sports- and Editorial Departments of the Chicago Tribune, where Mike Downey works, learn of the impending trade of Ken Griffey, Jr. to the White Sox.

9:?? AM: Someone at Mike Downey's own paper begins to write up an article about how Ken Griffey Jr. has been traded to the White Sox. Downey, presumably, naps at his desk.

9:36 AM: Mike Downey's own paper, the Chicago Tribune, then posts the article, on its Web sites, about the Griffey trade. Downey: still napping.

9:47 AM: The Cincinnati Enquirer posts an article about the Griffey trade on its Web sites.

Somewhere around 10:?? AM: Downey awakens, wipes drool from face. Is informed somehow that Ken Griffey, Jr. has been traded to the White Sox, a team that plays in the town where he works as a journalist.

10:02 AM: At a complete loss as to how to pursue this information, so as to ascertain its validity, Downey turns on his computer for the first time ever. Has to go through a series of steps to create a Tribune user name and password. Sees confusing screen about software updates ready for download. Calls IT.

10:28 AM: Tribune IT guy Derek Greenhorn finishes installing Windows update on Downey's computer, tells Downey that he can now access the internet. Downey stares at him blankly.

11:56 AM: Greenhorn finishes an accelerated tutorial on "surfing the web." Downey is pretty sure he has a handle on it.

11:57: Downey tries to, in his own words, "smurf the World Wide Weird," ends up erasing his own hard drive and those of the 6 people closest to him. Tribune server crashes. Smoke pours out of Downey's computer. Downey realizes he is hungry and heads down to get himself a personal pan pizza and a tall glass of beer from a neighborhood restaurant while Greenhorn rushes to save the Tribune computer system.

2:18 PM: Downey smurfs the Weird under close supervision from Greenhorn and two Chicago-based FBI agents whose domestic terror-alert system has mis-identified Downey's computer's IP address as the possible epicenter of an internet-based terror attack.

2:19 PM: Downey does a Google-brand World Wide Weird seach protocol for "Cincinnati red baseball player Ken Griffey Jr was he traded? please help me internet I've never done this before am I doing this right? oh God, well, here goes nuttin'!", hits "shift," then "delete," then -- sure that he's figured out the right move here -- "help," then finally "return," and gazes blankly at his results. He then subsequently zips over to the Enquirer sports page, and sees that at 9:47, they published an article about the Griffey trade.

2:55 PM: After another brief nap, Downey wonders aloud whether his paper, the Chicago Tribune, has posted anything about the Griffey trade. So after a quick refresher course with Derek Greenhorn over in IT, who is now actively posting his resume on Monster.com because, in his own words, "I can't work with these boneheads for one more second or I'll kill myself," Downey figures out how to zip over to the Trib Web sites, and sees that at 9:36 AM -- several minutes earlier than the Enquirer posted their story, the Trib had posted a newsflash about Griffey being traded to the White Sox.

"Hot dog!" says Downey, to no one, as he munches on his now-cold personal pan pizza. "I'm going to write an article about this amazing day I'm having!"

Excellent news. I was stoked.

Oh, that Ken Williams, always something up his sleeve. If not an ace, then a king.

Or a 38.7 year-old oft-injured corner OF with a 103 OPS+. So, like, maybe the 9 of clubs.

Ken Griffey Jr., in center field at the Cell?

Yeah. Scary, right?

A cause to rejoice—set off the fireworks.

Oh. You went that way with it.

If you can get a guy who has more home runs than Frank Robinson, Mark McGwire, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks and Lou Gehrig, hallelujah and amen.

Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds: also available. Omar Vizquel has more hits than Reggie Jackson, Joe Morgan, Mickey Mantle, and Enos Slaughter. Maybe they should pick him up, too.

I began to picture it.

Ball after ball dropping in front of Jr. Line drives that Swisher would've caught easily splitting the gap for run-scoring doubles. Griffey running back and to his right, then pulling up lame as Nick Punto rounds second and thinks about trying to score...

Griffey in between Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye in the outfield?


OK, so maybe it wouldn't be the defensive equivalent of Reed Johnson in left, Jim Edmonds in center and Kosuke Fukudome in right, but it'll do. (Dye has been playing a mean right field, in fact.)

Griffey in CF won't be the equivalent of Tribune IT guy Derek Greenhorn in CF.

Ah, but Griffey right behind Quentin and Dye in the batting order? I like the sound of that.

Well, he'll definitely be better offensively than Brian Anderson. You've got that going for you. But to reiterate: 103 OPS+. Oft-injured. Center Field.

Followed by Jim Thome sixth, Paul Konerko or Nick Swisher seventh and Joe Crede (as soon as he comes back) eighth? Pitchers will swallow their seeds and gum.

The line-up is better. But this is not Manny Ramirez. It's 38.7 year-old Junior Griffey. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Could this be true?

I don't know, man. Zip over to a few more web sites and see what's up.

Uh, oh:

ESPN, 10 a.m.: "Griffey to ChiSox: Will He Agree?"

Mike Downey, a sportswriter for one of the biggest media outlets in one of the biggest media centers in the world, is getting his insider info from web sites. Like I do.

Who says bloggers and the MSM don't have anything in common?

Major League Baseball's authorized site, 10:20 a.m.: "Griffey to White Sox, pending OK."

Who refers to MLB.com as "Major League Baseball's authorized site?" That's like saying, "You know what my favorite TV show is? Emergency Room."

Oh, no.

Junior won't go? Say it ain't so!

You are 1,000 years old.

I was salivating. A pickup of a 38-year-old outfielder doesn't usually excite me. But gimpy old Edmonds hasn't done too badly for the Cubs, has he?

Fair enough. Not a good predictor of how Griffey will do -- at all -- but fair enough.

Now you're telling me a whopper is on the line but could slip off the hook? Ken Griffey Jr., a man who needs only eight more hits to have as many as Ted Williams?

If you think about this for a second, you will realize that this is not a good reason to want a guy on your team. Because it means he is old. What you want is a guy about whom you could say: "He's currently in his prime, and his prime is comparable to Ted Williams's prime" or something. This is like saying, "I want Dr. Grzlickson to perform my surgery. He has performed more than 1000 surgeries in his 82 years as a practicing doctor."

A man with more hits than Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg and Jim Rice?

See above.

What a sight in a White Sox suit he would be. Only 17 more hits and he can catch Nellie Fox. Only 31 more and he can catch Luis Aparicio.

Ugh. See above, again.

But wait?

He might refuse to come?

Who thought it was a good idea to print an article that details every mundane twist and turn in Mike Downey's personal musings on whether the Griffey trade would get done, without any analysis or insight into (a) what it will mean or (b) how it was accomplished or (c) any quotes from people involved or (d) anything remotely resembling entertainment?

Griffey has a right to turn down any deal to a new team? He might stay in his hometown of Cincy instead of favoring us with his presence here in Chi-town?

Yes. We know all of this. It happened in the past, and then did not hold up the trade. This is like having someone recount their dream to you and then tell you, unnecessarily, at the end, that it was all a dream.

I checked the sites one more time.

Seriously, man -- do you not understand that you, a professional journalist, have access to the same sources that are giving these reporters at other papers and web sites the information that they are then using to write these articles? If I were the President, and I wanted to know if the Senate had confirmed my choice for a Supreme Court Justice, I might try calling a Senator on the phone instead of refreshing Drudge every five minutes.

Cincinnati.com, 10:32 a.m.: "Report: Griffey OKs deal."

There were comments from readers, presumably Reds fans, as if Junior definitely was a goner.

Pretty clearly the first time he has ever looked at a web site. "And there are readers' comments at the bottom! And advertisements for products! And best of all, I won a free iPod!"

"Good luck, Griffey," wrote one. "I hope you can play in a World Series." (He never has, so as Frank Thomas might put it, join the club.)

But was it a mirage? A false alarm? Would it be a big tease for Sox fans to come this close to having Griffey on their side?

This article has taken on the timbre of a grandpa recounting the story of the Great Griffey Trade of '08 to his 4 year-old grandson as the grandson drifts off to sleep. Which the readers of the article, coincidentally, have begun to do as well.

I went to Fox Sports' site to see what was up.

I decided to insert yet another middleman between me, a professional sports journalist, and the sports journalism information I needed.

Fox had been a source for that "Griffey OKs deal" report.

I am bored.

"OK, I'll Go."

That was the headline I found. Griffey approved a deal to the Sox, the story claims as fact.

This is torture. This is like, you get on the elevator at work and you see a guy you kind of know, and he says, "Hey Ken." And you go, "Hey Jim. What'd you do this weekend?" and Jim says, "Well. When I left work on Friday I realized I was hungry. Which is odd, since I had just had a granola bar like 30 minutes earlier. But, nonetheless, there I was: hungry. So I walked East down Fremont Street about .3 miles until I came upon Gary's Deli. I went inside. I looked at all my options, food-wise, and settled on a bagel. I took it to the counter and paid for it with cash. The total was $1.97 after tax. So I took the bagel and I walked to the parking lot where my car, a 1998 Camry, was parked. Inserting the key into the lock, I gained access to my car, got into the driver's side, started the engine, shifted into 'drive,' and headed for home..." And the door opens on your floor and you run away.

A Junior achievement award for Ken Williams and company.

Who doesn't love a good pun?

Awaiting confirmation, I tried to conjure up an image of Junior in the Sox clubhouse.

"I drove the 12.8 miles to my house, parked the car in my driveway, exited the Camry, locked the doors, and headed inside..."

Would he dye his hair platinum blond like A.J. Pierzynski? Grow a goatee and dye it blond like Juan Uribe and Bobby Jenks? Wear his facial hair a different way every day like Swisher?

Or would he simply be good old, classy, mature, solid-citizen, credit-to-the-game Ken Griffey Jr., an asset to anybody's team?

These are some fucking exciting musings.

A clock is ticking and they still claim Junior is on his way.

I'll believe it when I see him. What was that song Pierzynski and the guys played during the 2005 World Series?

"Don't Stop Believing."

OK, A.J., play it again.

And that's how it ends.

You know. Baseball journalism.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 11:46 AM
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