These Happy Joe Morgan Chat Days Are Yours And Mine, Happy Joe Morgan Chat Days!
by Mike Carminati
Spin and die,
To live again as butterfly.
—"The Caterpillar" by Christina Georgina "Frankie" Rossetti
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin (off).
—The Bible, "Eddie" Mathew, vi. 28
Oh, spin, spin, spin, oh mighty wheel!
—Ed "Ross" Grimley, a decent guy, I must say, on his beloved "Wheel of Fortune"
Happy those early days! when I
Shined in my angel-infancy.
Before I understood this place
Appointed for my second race,
—Henry "Hippo" Vaughan
How short our happy days appear!
How long the sorrowful!
—"The (Seattle) Mariner’s Cave" by Jean "Brandon" Ingelow
A plucked phoenix is not worth a chicken.
—Ancient Chinese proverb, Huh?
How YOU doin'?
—Joey Tribiani on "Don't Call Me Bob" "Friends"
—Mike "Spanky" LaFontaine, in the fictional show of the same name in the movie, A Mighty Wind
In 1974 a television show began that had had a failed pilot on "Love American Style" ("Truer than the red, white, and blue-ooh-ooh") two years earlier and was resurrected by a similarly minded film that helped make Richard Dreyfus and Harrison Ford stars and allowed a young film maker by the name of George Lucas make a small-budget science fiction movie by the name of Star Wars, that changed the film industry. The film was American Graffiti, and the show it helped revive was "Happy Days". It started as a half-hour-long episode of "Love American Style" under the title "Love and the Happy Days", in which young Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard, tries to use his family's new television set, a rarity in the Fifties, to get a date with a certain young lady. "Happy Days" the series started the year that "Love American Style" went off the air, lasted ten seasons, and eventually gave our culture the phrase "Jumped the shark".
This past week another show that lasted ten years, "Friends", went off the air. Reportedly about fifty million people watched its final episode. Next week, an eleven-year veteran, "Frasier", will end its run on TV as well. However, the spirit of "Friends" will soldier on as the only character not to get a life as well as probably the most one-dimensional character, Joey, gets his own show next season. Similarly, "Frasier" rose from the ashes of "Cheers" as Dr. Frasier Crane was transplanted from Boston back to his native Seattle. I can't imagine anyone believes the "Joey" show will enjoy half as much success as "Frasier". Drea de Matteo shouldn't miss much time from the set of the "Sopranos" before the show folds.
"Frasier" is indeed a rarity. "The Simpsons" started with short segments on "The Tracey Ullman Show". Both were good, but "The Simpsons" left Ullman in the dust long ago. However, many other long-running TV shows morphed into new spinoffs, which rarely if ever enjoyed even a modicum of success. The last episode of "M*A*S*H" was watched by one hundred million people, a record at the time. A good deal of that show was taken up with setting up the short-lived and tackily titled spinoff "After M*A*S*H" with three of the lesser characters from the original series. "All in the Family" was reborn as "Archie Bunker's Place" (and also birthed "Gloria", "The Jeffersons", and ("And then there's) "Maude", which in turn gave us "Good Times"). "The Andy Griffith Show" became "Mayberry, R.F.D." "Cheers" itself had already spawned a short-lived series, "The Tortellis", a few years before, and "Happy Days" delivered "LaVerne and Shirley", "Mork and Mindy", "Joanie Loves Chachi", and "Plansky's Beauties" with varying results.
OK, so what am I prattling on about? A number of people, including me, have been trying to figure out how Joe Morgan, arguably one of the top two second basemen of all time, begat Joe Morgan, pain in analyst after his playing days were done. I just came to the realization that it's all a crapshoot. Sometimes you get a "Frasier" and sometimes you get an "After MASH". "Sometimes you are the Louisville slugger, baby; sometimes you are the ball." I remember discussing the idea of a Frasier show when it was announced and scoffing at the idea. And then again how many shows were birthed, like "After MASH" was, with a shower that was one hundred million strong? Like the phoenix, these shows and Morgan's two careers existed separately and (usually) singular though they were fashioned from the ancestor's remains.
Therefore, it's not contradictory for Morgan the analyst to gainsay everything that Morgan the player made manifestly clear as a player. Look at Ted Williams—great player, not so great manager. Name the last great player who was a good manager: Frank Robinson? Joe Torre? Bob Lemon? Not too many others. Name the great managers who were bad players: Bobby Cox, Billy Martin, Sparky Anderson, Earl Weaver, Tommy Lasorda, Connie Mack, etc. That list is a bit longer. Name the great players who were great baseball analysts. (Bob Uecker does not count.) Success in the first career does not imply success in the second. They are totally different disciplines.
Could it also mean that "Joey" the series will find fertile ground on Thursday nights? Well, to quote Joey himself, the point is "moo".
Alex Godshall, Jupiter, FL: What's the best advice you can give to an aspiring young middle infielder, on defense in particular?
Only one thing --understand bending your knees and staying down on the ball means keeping your behind down too. Read my Baseball for Dummies book. There is a section in there on infield play.
[Mike: Joe is an expert on fielding, baseball for dummies, and behinds.]
Brandon (Indianapolis, IN): Why not move the Expos to Louisville, Kentucky and rename the team the Louisville Sluggers?
They are looking for a spot that would support them like the New York fans support the Yankees and I don't think they feel Louisville is that place. They are looking for a big media market. I think they will end up in Washington.
[Mike: Yeah, why not move a team to Mudville? Of course, they want the largest market available. I have to point two things out though: 1) No other area can possibly get the same fan support as NYC. It's just too damn big. 2) Why not add a third team to the New York metro area? It's the largest market available. However, I agree that Washington and the Expos are betrothed. We just don't know how long the engagement will be and what the dowry will be to Angelos.]
Matt (Houston, TX): Who do you think has the best 'stuff' in the game right now, and who would you like to face the least if you were still playing?
I'd least like to face Randy Johnson (like most left handed hitters). BUT, I still think that Pedro Martinez, Jason Schmidt, Gagne, Smoltz and Clemens all have great stuff. For me though, a lefty, I don't want to face Randy Johnson.
[Mike: Matt Houston? Lee Horsley? Eh, skip it.
OK, Billy Wagner's not bad either.]
Jim (Peacedale, RI): Hi Joe, If the SF Giants are out of it early, what are the chances of Bonds being traded to a contender to try and get a ring? If he asks, wouldn't they at least have to consider it? Maybe Red Sox DH?
Well, first of all, I think Bonds has a no-trade clause so they would have to ask him where he wants to go. Knowing him, I don't think he'd want to go to the AL. And moreover, I think if Bonds leaves San Francisco, they'll have to shut the ballpark down. I don't see him leaving the Bay.
[Mike: Peacedale? What superhero lives there? The Winged Wussy?
ATFQ! He's asking if Bonds would ask to leave the Giants to get to the postseason before it's too late. I don't think he'll be traded, but stranger things have happened. It would depend Bonds desire to leave town and on the deal they could make. There's one thing for sure though: Pac Bell isn’t going anywhere. The Giants survived Mays, McCovey, Clark, and many other great players leaving town. I think Bonds is better than any of them, but the Giants won't fold when his career with them is over.]
Joe (Chicago, IL): Joe, with the weakness of the division, any chance the wild card could come out of the AL Central?
I don't think it will come out of the Central b/c you have a lot of great teams in the AL. Boston, New York, Angels, Oakland -- I just don't think it will come out of the Central.
[Mike: ATFQ Pt. II. Joe, he's asking if being in a weak division helps a team's chance of getting the wild card.
I guess it's possible, but of the 18 wild card teams only one came from the division won by the weakest division champ (i.e., the 1995 Rockies).]
Sergio (San Diego): Yo Joe! Don't forget about my Padres. They are also in first with LA. Which one of these teams do you see losing it first?
I can't predict who will win the NL West. Both teams are playing so well at this point. I guess, I'd give the Dodgers the edge, I really like San Diego but they have to get their bullpen on track. I'm surprised that this is is their weakness right now b/c they have such great arms in there.
[Mike: You know Sergio???
Well, the Dodgers have now won four straight and the Pod People are now two games back, so I guess they "lost it first". However, I'm not sold on either team. Just about everyone is over performing in the Dodgers lineup and I don't think they have that great a rotation. And I know they were everyone's offseason pick, but I'm still not convinced that the Padres are that good. Even though these two have separated from the other three, I don’t think it's inconceivable, to quote Wally Shawn, that San Fran or Arizona could still win this thing. In any case, I wouldn't be surprised if the division winner had the worst record of any playoff team in the majors.]
Sean Darcy: Hey Joe. The Mets are only 3 games out of first place, do you think this is just because they havent played any great teams yet, or because they are finally starting to come together as a team and they are making their way to the top of the NL East?
The Mets have had well pitched ballgames. And Tom Glavine has been key for them. I like Kaz, and when they get Jose Reyes back, they will certainly make some strides. They are finally more enjoyable to watch. I'm not going to say they are going to win the East, but the Mets are coming around. They are playing with some excitement.
[Mike: Wait a second….give me a moment…I'm still recovering…I'll give you a topic: Why do they call a ball that bounces into the stands a ground-rule double when no stadium is required to make a ground rule to cover it?…Oh dear, those Mets fans are a caution. To paraphrase Eddie Murphy, "I kid the Mets fans because they Met fans." The Met fan, possibly the most pathetic variety of fan known to man. Perhaps it's due to there being a landing strip in right field. All that air traffic and the dimensions of Mr. Met's head ("HEEEEAD!…Now he'll be crying himself to sleep tonight, on his huge pillow.") cause the fans to go all non compus mentus. Loco in la cabeza. Koo-koo for Cocoa Puffs (as opposed to koo-koo for Cocoa Crisp, which would be an Indian fan, which are now extinct).
No, it's because, to quote a greater mind than my own, "It's May, pal," and the Mets have not yet been able to dig themselves a hole deep enough. But don't worry the Grand Canyon wasn't built in a day either.]
Chris (Bowling Green, OH): Joe, I understand that superstition is a major part of the game of baseball for most players. Did you have any pregame rituals or superstitions that you did before each game?
I didn't really have a lot of superstitions, I mean, I didn't step on the foul lines. Nothing crazy. If I had a little success with a long sleeze sweatshirt I might wear it a few more times than usual. I'm trying to think of some weird ones. Wade Boggs ate chicken every day. That's pretty weird to me.
[Mike: How sleazy was it? Another lob from the new Utek, "Long Gone" Chris from Bowling Green.]
Hulk Hui - Menlo Park: Joe - Larry Bowa is under the microscope in Philly. Do you think his style of managing (volatile emotion) works in today's game. Or, is the Jack McKeon/Dusty Baker "friendly laid back guy" approach the way to succeeed in today's game?
I don't know if there is any one way to succeed in this game -- managing, coaching, pitching, hitting -- there is always more than one way to get the job done. I would say that most players prefer a softer approach. BUT, you can't always pat players on the back. Sometimes they need a kick in the rear. Not everybody responds to that gentle touch. I like Larry. I'd like to ask him if he feels this is the right situation for him.
[Mike: Who cares about motivation? Remember how great a motivator Tony Pena was last year. Wha' happened? I think that being able to make basic strategic moves, getting the best situations available to help your team win, is the most a manager can do on the field. Bowa is lacking in this area. Off the field, the best a manager can do is not tick off his players. Bowa is lacking in this area.
However, compared to you, Hulk, Bowa is as quite calm.]
Ray, Duncanville, Tx: Joe, Some players make the switch between leagues. Chan Ho Parks problems cant all be physical as he puts it. Why has he had so much trouble in the American league? Is it between the ears?
I think that switching leagues is very difficult. You don't know the players. I think a pitcher switching leagues is easier than a hitter switching leagues, though. The advantage is always with the pitcher -- that's one of the reason why Clemens and Pettite will do very well their first time through this league. Batters have never seen them. Chan Ho Park should have had the same advantage.
[Mike: Agreed, but was Park really that good or was he just a decent pitcher in a pitcher's park? Park's best season was 2000 (18-10, 3.27 ERA, 32% better than the park-adjusted league average). He only had one bad year, 1999 (13-11, 5.27 ERA, 15% worse than average). His first year in Texas mimicked his 1999 season. It came after two season of 225+ innings per season. He was "due" for an off season. And I've written before that pitchers who leave the friendly confines of Dodgers Stadium have had a rough time of it.]
Lee, Loudon NH: Hey Joe, the Yankees seemed to have settled down do you think that the Red Sox have a legit shot at finishing 1st?
The Yankees have definitely settled in and they have such an awesome lineup, you know they are going to win a lot of games. I think both teams will win 90-100 games. I still think that the Red Sox have the pitching edge and the Yankees have the power edge. NY has just sent Contreras out, so they will have to find somebody to step in. I said a long time ago that I would never bet against the Yankees. I'm sticking to that, that's my answer. But, we'll see.
[Mike: "If me and Lee and KG could be three, flyin' free tenaciously"—sorry, lost my train of thought. Oh, yeah, a little afraid to commit, Joe? I'm not. The Yankees will win the division. The Red Sox will fade again. There, it didn't hurt. I may be wrong, but I made a stand. C'mon you do it too. Give it a try.]
Chris (Chicago, IL): Hi Joe. The NL Central has lived up to all the pre-season talk as one of the most competitve so far. In the central, the Cubs seem to struggle at times producing offensively. Do you think that the Cubs offense relys too much on the home run? Where do you see the Cubs / Astros / Cards come September?
I know Dusty very well and he doesn't like to rely on the HR, but if that's all he's getting, that's what he'll go on. But he likes the hit and run, he likes aggressive baseball. I think we'll see more of that as the season goes on. IF Mark Prior comes back, you have to give the edge to the Cubs. Even if their offense is not as consistant as, say a team like Houston. If Prior goes not return, I give the nod to the Astros. St. Louis has the offense but not the starting pitching of the Cubs or 'Stros.
[Mike: I see the Cubs in Chicago, the Astros in Houston, and the Cards in St. Louis. There.
The Cubs are sixth in the NL in scoring. They do lead the league in homers but are second in doubles and third in sac bunts. 'Nuff sed?]
Pat (London ON): Hey Joe, Do you think the A's are starting to show symptoms that their lack of hitting is hurting them, despite the plethora of great starting pitchers?
You look at the A's hitters and you realize they will struggle a lot against great pitching. There is not a lot of power, not a lot of speed and not a lot of high aveage hitters. BUT, their pitching -- other than HUdson -- has not lived up to it's billing either.
[Mike: "Jefe, would you say I have a plethora of piñatas?"
Joe criticized the A's for waiting for the long ball in the past. Now, he criticizes them for not being able to hit the long ball. The A's play on a pitcher's park. They have out-homered the opposition (39 to 33). They're also way ahead in walks (124 to 95). The problem is that they strike out so often (229 K's in 1109 ABs). Of their starters, Hudson, Mulder, and Redman have ERAs under 4.00. Zito is the only one really disappointing (6.17 ERA). The bullpen is more of problem (4.73 ERA) especially closer Arthur Rhodes (4.50 ERA and 2 blown saves) and setup man Chad Bradford (5.84).]
Chris (Lexington, KY): Hey Joe, I ask you this because you know the hearts and minds of Cincinnati fans. Do you believe Junior's criticism of, at least some, Reds fans is warranted? I feel like 98% of the fans want badly for things to go well for Junior and to embrace him, but it seems like he is perpetually angry with us. Comments?
Yes, I think it's a two sided sword there. Jurnior remembers people cheering when he got hurt -- whichis the worst thing you could ever do to a player -- or to ANYONE. He remember that and he just can't get over it. He needs to. Everyone, Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, myself -- we were all booed at one time or another in Cincinatti. You just have to get over that if you want to be a great player.
[Mike: "No know, no care."]
Mike (Omaha): Hey Joe! What are your thoughts on Estrada in Atlanta? It looks like the Braves have found them another unheralded star to replace Javy Lopez...
Well, he's playing really well so far, but Javy set a HR record for catchers last year. He's an awesome talent. Estrada is a switch hitter, he is sound defensively. Look, he has a chance at greatness, but don't compare him to Javy Lopez yet.
[Mike: He's 27 and just starting to be an established major-leaguer. His career boils down to one nice month. He's no Javy Lopez. He's no "awesome talent." If he becomes a decent major-league catcher for three or four years the Braves should be estatic.]
Chris, Los Angeles: Hi Joe, How much longer will the dodgers continue to win without a true staff ace? Do you see them acquiring one before the trading deadline?
I don't understand what an ace is if all the pitchers are throwing well and they are winning games. If you're asking if they're gonna get a Pedro Martinez -- the answer is no. An ACE, I mean, how many ACES are there in baseball. Not many. Teams aren't going to let those guys go.
[Mike: Nah, guys like Schilling, Clemens, Maddux, Brown, Pettitte, Vazquez, they never switch teams. Oh wait, as a matter of fact they have all switched teams from last year. That's odd. Well, there's Randy Johnson. Oh, but there are rumors that he might get traded. There's always Pedro Martinez. Oh, he may get shipped out of Boston you say because of contract problems? But LA Is out of the question, as Joe points out, probably because it's such a small market that would not be able to afford his contract. Aha, Victor Zambrano. He's never switched teams. Good point, Joe.
As far as a true ace on the Dodgers, Odalis Perez was one of the best pitchers in the NL in 2002 (15-10, 3.00) and Nomo has won 16 games the last two years. What constitutes and "ace" anyway? Drop any pitcher in LA and he can become an ace. Look at Wilson Alvarez last year or Nomo since he returned to LA. Both of them looked washed up before coming to the Dodgers.
As far as I don't understand what an ace is if all the pitchers are throwing well and they are winning games, that would be fine if they were but they’re not. Perez and Ishii are the only starters with ERAs under 5.40. The Dodgers have Alvarez and Dreifort in reserve if Nomo, Weaver, and Lima continue to disappoint, but a trade is not out of the question. A Martinez or Johnson trade seem like very remote possibilities right now, but it's a long summer.]
Rick (San Jose, CA): Hi Joe! What do you think about the Dodgers, contenders or pretenders?
Well, obviously they are a contender b/c they are in first place. If you can hold first place for a month, you can hold it for the rest of the season. They have a fine anchor in the bullpen in Gagne. I expect them to be in the race all year long.
[Mike: A perfect Morganism: One reasonable statement (Well, obviously they are a contender b/c they are in first place.—I mean like, duh?) followed by an illogical one (If you can hold first place for a month, you can hold it for the rest of the season.). On May 1, 2003, the Expos, M's, and Royals were either in sole possession of first place or were tied for first in their respective divisions.
As for the Dodgers, the curious thing is that uncharacteristically three of their starters have faltered and their offense is over-achieving. The one thing that might sustain their playoff hopes is that as their offensive players return to normal, their rotation has room to improve. And yes, they have an historically good bullpen led by Gagne. So they got that goin' for them, which is nice (to paraphrase Carl Spackler).]
Jeff (Chicopee, MA): Joe, The big debate now is that Roger Clemens is the best pitcher since WWII, do you think there is anyone better than him or is he the best pitcher since the second World War?
1945? No. He is a great pitcher. But he is not the best. Sandy Kofax is generally considered one of the best but he only pitched for 10 years. Bob Gibson has to be mentioned. Roger is OBVIOUSLY one of the best, but I can't say that he is THE best.
[Mike: Chicopee? Home of the Chicopee Chucksters led by coach Norman Dale?
Morganism #2: Players were better in my day. Gibson was a great pitcher, but to listen to Morgan and Timmy McCarver you would think that Gibson was the greatest, toughest, meanest pitcher that ever existed. Of course pitching in the midst of the greatest pitcher's era of all time doesn’t hurt.
For the record, here are the Pitching Win Share leaders from 1946 to 2003, inclusive:
Clemens has undoubtedly passed Niekro and may pass Seaver, the greatest pitcher I ever saw pitch before Clemens, this year but may never catch Spahn. Clemens is certainly the best pitcher of his era. The only question came as Maddux ran off his string of amazing years when Clemens was having his off years. Certainly, Spahn and Seaver are deservedly the front runners. Clemens can be mentioned with them now (and one can argue that with the fewer innings pitchers throw in five man rotations, Clemens has already surpassed them in WS/IP), but we'll have to wait until his great career is over to fully access it. After all, we thought his career was done in the offseason and now he's 6-0 with a 2.11 ERA.
By the way, Gibson is 11th in Pitching Win Shares over the same span, very respectable certainly but a poor choice for best of the era.]
David, Cambridge, MA: Hi Joe, where do you stand on this spiderman thing.
I don't stand. It's something that MLB decided to do, they have to determine whether it's for the good of the game or not. It's the commissioner's job, not mine. I guess the point is, they didn't ask me. I'm still attaining information that will help me make up my mind and make a clear statement on this whole issue.
Besides -- my understanding is that they have decided NOT to put the Spiderman logo on the bases afterall.
[Mike: Where does Joe stand? To quote Lina Lamont, "I can' stan' 'im". Why no backbone, Joe? Attaining information? Only the president gets away with such lame excuses.
Luckily for Joe someone saved his heinie by informing him a) what the hex the issue was and b) that it was already resolved. No need for those inconvenient opinions in a chat session, right?
As for me, to quote Mystery Science Theater's "Pod People" (for the second time in as many days, mind you), "It still stinks." There are worse things in heaven and earth, however, Horatio, than are dreamt of in Bob Costa's philosophy.]
Joe (Yardley, PA): Hey Joe, do you realize your still ripping them in ESPN Classic Fantasy Baseball. You just homered off Walter Johnson last night!!
If Walter could get it to the plate, I probably could still hit it. I think I'm in a little better shape than him these days! It's so interesting to be able compare players of differnet eras!
[Mike: The funny thing is that this constitutes a comparison to Joe. "Johnson is dead. I'm not. See I compared and contrasted." Joe could get his baseball GED.
The sad thing is that it is actually possible to compare players of different eras by various tools, none of which are the ESPN Classic Fantasy Baseball game. Sorry to bring you down, man.]
Josh Bonwell, Anaheim, CA: Good Morning Mr. Morgan, Ananheim Angels getting it done with out Garrett Anderson and Tim Salmon, wow-Enough Said!
I think the Angels, and I've said it before, are the best team in the West. They are basically the same team they were last year without those two guys. You haven't gained a lot. You need to get those two guys back, then I think they will really distance themselves from the rest of the division.
[Mike: Josh "Bonzo" Bonwell? I though you were dead, man: choked on your own vomit.
Nigel Tufnel: "Actually, it was someone else's vomit…You can't really dust for vomit."
What did Joe say? They're the best team but the are basically the same team as last year without Salmon and GA? They were 77-85 last year. Besides the guy's point was that the Angels are winning without them. Never mind.]
Michael(Bayonne, NJ): Joe, do you believe in "winning players" that push teams into the world Series. If you do, would you say that Jeter is a more valuable player to the Yankees than Alex Rodriguez is?
I agree. You have to say Jeter is mor valuable b/c he's helped them win championships. Sure, he'll put up far better numbers than Jeter, but I would never say that A-Rod is more valuable than Jeter right now. Jeter's is one of those 'winning' guys. Yes, I believe in that. A-Rod is probably the most talented playre in the game right now but Jeter's enthusiasm and work ethic and drive rubs off on the clubhouse and he can drive them to greatness.
And before you Giants fans go crazy -- Barry Bonds is by far the best hitter in the game, but A-Rod is the most complete.
[Mike: "I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a... fraid… on …a …bicycle ...built…for…two………."
I am sorry. My brain is pixilated after that answer. I think a wad of ginkgo biloba between my cheek and gum may help. "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain…By Jove, I think I've got it"
OK, where to first? Jeter is more valuable because he's won championships. OK, so DiMaggio won 9 championships, Ruth 7, and Mantle 7. Was DiMaggio more valuable than Ruth and Mantle? Sorry, that's too tough. How about, Joe Collins won 5 championships; Eddie Collins 4. Who's more valuable? Sorry, that's still too tough. Graig Nettles won two championships; Mike Schmidt one. Who's more valuable? Forget it.
Maybe it's not the number. It's just the fact they have won a championship and A-Rod hasn't. Well, Luis Sojo won three world championships. Does that make him inherently more valuable than A-Rod?
Just because a player happens to be on a World Series winning team, it doesn’t make him a different type of player. I remember Dave "Hendu" Henderson going to five straight postseasons with three different teams. Analysts pointed to this as if Henderson was anything more than a good player who happened to have gone to successful teams. In 1991, he was an All-Star and had arguably his second-best season, but the A's failed to make the playoffs. What happened to the Hendu magic? Did it dry up? Or maybe his team just wasn't as good overall anymore.
How about Walter Johnson? He didn’t get to the postseason or didn't win a World Series until his 18th season. Was Johnson a less valuable pitcher for the first 17 seasons? Did he get more valuable in his 18th or did the Senators just get better as a team? You make the call.
Barry Bonds is by far the best hitter in the game, but A-Rod is the most complete. ??? What the? Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do…]
Darren(Portland, ME): Do you think if the rangers are in the thick of the race in july that they might go after a pitch?
Read my ESPN.com column this week for the whole picture on the Rangers. It talks about the talents of this young club and also why it will be difficult for them to stay on top of their division.
[Mike: The should go after pitches before July or they will be in danger of not scoring any runs. Joe has already proven that wlaks and OBP are meaningless.
Speaking of which, nice shameless self-promotion, Joe, and a very creative way to avoid actually answering a question. Okay, party…Bonus. Since you brought up the article, to quote Kyle Gass of Tenacious D, "If it's in there, it's fair game." You asked for it, You got it. Toyota. Let us read together in the English…
I also talked with Soriano about the significant strides he's made toward becoming a good defensive second baseman (as well as a good hitter). After making three errors in the season's first three games, he hasn't made an error in the past 23 games.
Based on my observations from Sunday's game, he's a much better second baseman than he was last year. He looks more relaxed and less stiff, and he's bending his knees better on ground balls.
[Mike: Joe likes Alfonzo. He really likes Alfonzo. For some reason, Joe wants to use the power of his wishful thinking to make Soriano a better second baseman. He's been saying that Soriano has improved defensively each of the last three seasons. He still boots too many balls. Whenever I see him he seems to end up committing a costly error or worse yet fails to even get to a ball that he should have fielded cleanly. Ok, that's anecdotal. Look at his fielding stats and tell me that he's improved much. His range factor was slightly better last year, but he's still below average. And he consistently boots about 20 balls a year, a lot for a second baseman. Besides Joe alludes to his three errors in the first three games. His fielding %, range factor and zone rating are still about what they were last year, sub-par. It's very unlikely that a player will improve significantly defensively at the major-league level. I remember Wade Boggs made himself a Gold Glove third baseman later in his career, but then again he is, or will be, a Hall of Famer. It's tough.]
Showalter told me a story from Saturday's doubleheader against the Red Sox. After winning the first game 4-3, the younger Rangers were back in the clubhouse, eating a big meal. Showalter said that Young yelled at them, "You haven't done anything yet! We've got another game to play -- you can't sit here and gorge yourselves until after you win the second game." The Rangers went out and took the second game 8-5, beating Pedro Martinez.
Sometimes that's what young players need -- veteran leaders who teach them what it takes to be a winner.
[Mike: Wow, the veterans really help with the subtle nuances of the game, like not feasting before a game. Great point, Joe. Mickey had better advice for Rocky: "Women are bad for the legs." These are the subtle details about the game that you only get in a Joe Morgan article.]
Owner Tom Hicks, Showalter, the coaches and all the young Rangers are on the same page -- so I expect to see a competitive Texas team throughout the season.
[Mike: Tom Hicks, the same man that outbid himself for A-Rod? The man that overpaid for Chan Ho Park? The man who ruined the buffet at the Harrow club this morning? Great! It's a sure harbinger of success if you can get Hicks on board.
Topic #2: What is the importance of On-Base Percentage? Joe "tell me some" Morgan…]
OBP important, but RBI and runs trump OBP
Since the beginning of the 1990s -- early in my time as a broadcaster for ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" -- I've tried to make fans more aware of on-base percentage on our telecasts.
[Mike: Joe Morgan stalwart defender of OBP! Who? Bill James? Never heard of him. "Ever heard of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle?… Morons!" ]
On-base percentage has always been an important stat, but RBI and runs scored are the truest tests of what a player does to help his team win. Once runners get on base, someone needs to drive them in.
[Mike: Joe just doesn't get cause and affect. Yes, scoring runs is important. It's of paramount importance in baseball. Scoring runs, driving in runs, yes, they are both of utmost importance. However, how does an individual's runs scored and RBIs effectively measure that? A lead off hitter with very good power hitters behind him will score a high number of runs even if he is not very effective. RBIs to a certain degree are dependent on one's position in the lineup and how effective the previous players are at getting on base.
In this search for effectiveness, OBP is important but OPS (OBP Plus Slugging) is the best indicator. More on this in a minute.]
The most important stat in baseball is the combination of runs scored and RBI.
[Mike: Joe in his own pathetic way is trying to invent OPS. It's like a feral child trying to develop language. Their futile attempts will not eclipse what thousands (millions?) of years of evolution have accomplished. But it's charming.
Runs and RBI are effective at the team level. However, how they get distributed may be based more on position in the lineup than on the effectiveness of the individual.
Lets thing about the effectiveness of R+RBI. If your cleanup hitter goes down and he his your leader in R+RBI, who do you turn to in order to replace him? Well, just take your #2 R=RBI guy, right? What if that happens to be your #5 hitter, who is struggling (.225/.280/.375/.655) but has had enough men in front of him to drive in a good number of runs. Also, he has scored a bunch because your #7 hitter is tearing the leather off the ball (.310/.370/.550/.920) and has driven in #5 guy just about every time he gets on base. However, the #7 guy doesn't score often because the #8 guy and the pitcher hardly ever drive him in. Who would you turn to? For those with at least half a brain, the answer is the #7 guy. I'll leave it to you to determine Joe's answer.]
The most important stat in baseball is the combination of runs scored and RBI.
[Mike: If I just keep repeating it, it becomes true.]
You can accumulate home runs just one swing at a time, but you can accumulate up to four RBI per swing. So it's harder to hit a home run than to drive in a run -- in fact, it's harder to hit a home run than to do anything else offensively.
[Mike: How about a triple? There were 5207 HRs last year and just 934 triples. There were only 2573 stolen bases, 1316 intentional walks, 1849 hit batsmen, 1626 bunts, 1336 sac flies, and 3850 GIDPs. How about them?
This is solipsistic logic because a home run by definition drives in at least a run. It's like telling someone that it's harder to draw a square than a rectangle and then chuckling to yourself over the fact that squares are in fact rectangles. Oh, that's a good one. I always pull that one on the rubes getting off the turnip trucks.]