Monday, August 29, 2005


Analysis you can't get anywhere else

During Sunday night's Phillies-Diamondbacks broadcast, Joe Morgan shared with his viewers his "keys for September." What will teams need if they want to capture a playoff spot? Surely, Joe would enlighten viewers with something special, right?

Of course, it's special because it's coming from a Hall of Famer. A rube like me (baseball career ended before high school) would never know that teams would need to get good pitching, good offense and "leadership."

So, to recap: contending teams will want to give up few runs, thus pitching is very important. Also, they'll want to score more runs than they give up, because as Joe Morgan pointed out "you can't win if you don't score enough runs," thus you need some offense (guys who can get on base? home run hitters? speedsters? Joe doesn't say, although I'll venture to say making outs will be bad and scoring runs will be good). Finally, you'll need players "who've been there before, or who at least know how to act when under the September pressure."

For example, the 2003 Marlins were LOADED with playoff experience... well, actually they weren't. They actually beat out the far more experienced St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros for the Wild Card, the defending National League champs in the Divisional series (led by postseason veteran Barry Bonds), and the Dusty Baker-led Cubs in the NLCS (a team led by vets like Moises Alou, Kenny Lofton, Eric Karros, Damian Miller, Mark Grudzielanek and Sammy Sosa). Oh, and they beat the mother of playoff-experienced teams (with leadership provided by the steady Joe Torre and Derrek Jeter) in the World Series.

But..... the Marlins did have the pitching and the hitting. In fact so did the Red Sox in '04, the Angels in '02, the Diamondbacks in '01, the Yankees in '96 and again from '98 until 2000, and the Marlins in '97.

Next, John Madden will list his keys to a good NFL season: a good defense that yields few points, an explosive offense that scores a lot of points, and a mistake-free special teams that scores points and allows none.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Joe on Pete Rose

"All those years, I was the guy who said Pete [Rose] needs to be punished, and he has, for 16 years," Hall of Fame infielder Joe Morgan said in Wednesday's Philadelphia Inquirer. "If you are going to let people into the Hall who have done steroids, then you have to let Pete Rose in, because this [steroid scandal] has hurt baseball more than what Pete did.

Joe Morgan thinks that Pete Rose should go into the Hall of Fame if a steroid user does. Why? Well, I'm not sure exactly. He says that the steroid scandal has hurt baseball more than Pete's gambling did, but he doesn't really say how. Gambling on a sport by the participant calls the entire competitive aspect of the sport into question, and frankly, I don't see what could hurt a sport worse than that. But Joe thinks that if a steroid user gets into the Hall, that Rose's punishment is suddenly rendered too harsh. Well, here's the problem, baseball has it's own rules, and while 16 years seems like a long time, let's look at the rule governing gambling:

"Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible." (Major League Rule 21)

Permanently ineligible? Sounds like Pete's got a long way to go on his sentence. If Joe wants to lobby to have steroids users banned from baseball permanently, that's fine with me. But every time he's asked what the punishment should be, he manages to dodge the question. Seems to me that Morgan's more concerned with getting his buddy into the Hall of Fame, than keeping steroid users out of it.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Making my job easy!

Fire Joe Morgan has the latest dissection of Joe Morgan's Friday chat session. No need for me to elaborate on what has already been picked apart so well.

But there is one matter I'd like to address.

TJ (Los Angeles, CA): Do you think that anybody was doing steroids during your era Joe?

Joe Morgan: No. The reason is they just weren't aware those things could help you. Same reason players didn't really lift weights before my era. They just didn't think it would help them.

KT: I will give anybody who reads this five hundred dollars for proof that somebody on the 1975 Reds did steroids, or anything of the kind. Go.
First, no, that was some other T.J. And no, I doubt Ken Tremendous will send me 5 c-notes in the mail (although I wouldn't refuse it either).

But forth comes Tom House, ex-Rangers pitching coach and former MLB pitcher in the 1970s:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Former major league pitcher Tom House used steroids during his career and said performance-enhancing drugs were widespread in baseball in the 1960s and 1970s, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday.

House, perhaps best known for catching Hank Aaron's 715th home run ball in 1974 in the Atlanta Braves' bullpen, said he and several teammates used amphetamines, human growth hormone and "whatever steroid" they could find in order to keep up with the competition.

"I pretty much popped everything cold turkey," House said. "We were doing steroids they wouldn't give to horses. That was the '60s, when nobody knew. The good thing is, we know now. There's a lot more research and understanding."

House, 58, estimated that six or seven pitchers per team were at least experimenting with steroids or human growth hormone. He said players talked about losing to opponents using more effective drugs.
Take Tom House's word for it. Or not.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


I missed this one

If you're a Cubs fan, you know about the Heckler, an Onion-esque free newspaper distributed around Wrigley Field

This was from late July. It's worth a chuckle or two.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Even Harry Caray got this one right

I was at a wake Sunday evening, and caught only bits and pieces of Sunday's Cubs-Cardinals game on Sunday Night Baseball. I did catch one Joe Morgan faux pas, though.

Derrek Lee pulled a ball onto Waveland Avenue, and the third-base umpire originally ruled it a home run. After a brief argument from the Cardinals, the umpires conferenced. Morgan was right when he said just one other umpire would have had a good angle on the ball and it was the home plate umpire, Bruce Froemming. Froemming's name is pronounced "Fremm-ing" as this is a German name (sometimes his attitudes mimic his ancestors circa 1935 -- but that is a different story for a different day).

But Joe Morgan kept calling him Bruce "Fro-ming." Not once. Not twice, but at least four times during this conference which resulted in the home run call being reversed and ruled a loud foul.

Now if Froemming was a substitute ump, called up from duty in the International League to fill in for someone, this would be understandable. I'd even understand it if Froemming had only been around five or six years.

Problem is, Froemming is the senior umpire in Major League umpire. When the two leagues had separate staffs, Froemming was a National League umpire. His first season, 1971, was Morgan's last season in Houston before being traded to the Reds. Froemming umpired the 1973 and 1980 National League Championship Series and the 1976 World Series. Joe was on the field there. While Froemming never had the awe-inspiring presence of Doug Harvey (nicknamed "God" by National League players), he's been a part of the game for 34 years! You'd think Morgan would at least know who HE is.


Morgan the player vs. Morgan the analyst

Retrosheet is featured in this Wilmington (Del.) News-Journal article along with a few other Delaware-based baseball authors.

The founder of Retrosheet, Dave Smith, has some interesting stories of how he compiled all the game information spanning more than a century.

He also talks about his baseball theory.

"Joe Morgan was a great player, a wonderful combination of power and getting on base. But he didn't have a really high batting average, so conventional sportswriters sometimes disparage him. But as an announcer Joe Morgan himself talks all the conventional stuff. It's like he simply doesn't understand why he was a great player. It's heartbreaking."

Joe won't get a break here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Making Stuff Up

Sunday night, ESPN graced all Cubs and Cardinal fans with three hours of decent baseball, and three hours of non-sense from Joe. As part of a discussion of MVP candidates Derrek Lee and Albert Pujoles, Joe mentioned that players from teams that win divisions / pennants tend to win MVPs over players on teams that lose.

Joe cited Ernie Banks, stating that Banks won two MVP awards on "last place teams."

Patently false.

Banks won MVPs in 1958 and 1959. The Cubs finished tied for fifth in each of those years. This is just more Ernie Banks trashing on Joe's part to go part and parcel with the "Banks Boulevard" crap from a few weeks back. I don't know if Joe has a problem with Ernie Banks, the Cubs in general, or, just a blatant disregard for facts.

My bet is all three.

For what it's worth, the first MVP on a last place team was Andre Dawson in 1987. Why Joe didn't pick on Dawson is beyond me. Unless, Joe's just afraid Dawson will beat him to a pulp on the Cooperstown stage the year Dawson gets enshrined.

Monday, August 15, 2005


New, easier to read edition

I've been a bit tied up the last few days, so I missed much of Joe Morgan's wisdom last night. I asked CT, Chuck and the Sloth to keep their ears open for any strange things Mr. Morgan might have said last night.

Meanwhile, I have changed the layout to an easier-to-read format. When I have more time, I'll jazz up the layout even more.

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