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The Harsh Light of Joe Morgan Chat Day
2003-08-19 00:15
by Mike Carminati

Nature in darkness groans
And men are bound to sullen contemplation in the night:
Restless they turn on beds of sorrow; in their inmost brain
Feeling the crushing wheels, they rise, they write the bitter words
Of stern philosophy & knead the bread of knowledge with tears & groans.

- William Blake of "Bull Durham" fame.

That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia
That's the night that they hung an innocent man

-Vicki Lawrence of "Mama's Family" fame.

Indeed. Did you ever notice that a Joe Morgan chat session was like a power outage. No, I don't mean because Joe's porch light is out. I mean, because Joe's chat can be zooming along answering questions in a reasonable manner without a care in the world and then suddenly, wham! It's like night descending at the flick of a switch .And as the intellectual power outage begins thoughts like pitchers should be evaluated by wins alone, on-base percentage is a lot of hooey, an Albert Pujols is more deserving of the MVP award than Barry Bonds, all start to make sense.

The gestalt is something like the Canadian Pepsi Syndrome that occurred the other day knocking out power from Nova Scotia to Michagana, MI. Maybe more to the point, is the analogy of a black hole, a vortex sucking all intellectual light into some netherworld where Dave Concepcion is a Hall of Famer and from which the light can never escape, along with Maximilian Schell and those silly, R2D2-inspired, cuddly robots. Oh, wait a minute, that just the crappy Disney version of a black hole-my mistake.

Maybe Joel McCrea said it best in Foreign Correspondent:

Don't tune me out, hang on a while -- this is a big story, and you're part of it. It's too late to do anything here now except stand in the dark and let them come... as if the lights were all out everywhere, except in America. Keep those lights burning... Hello, America, hang on to your lights: they're the only lights left in the world!

So without further ado: Chat on! Chat off! Chat on, Chat off; Joe's Chat Day...

The Good

Lost it in the lights just like Jay Gibbons.

The Bad

Jeff (Danbury, CT): What, if any, is the biggest chink in Pujols' armor?

Probably the only ching in his armor is he doesn't have a natural, stable position. Most star players play one position and he is playing left and 1st and not much 3rd anymore.

[Mike: A "ching", or perhaps "I Ching", in Pujols' armor? What, is Joe a Taoist? I though he was a Doh!-ist (yuck yuck).

Well, Pujols has been used in multiple positions because supergenius manager Tony LaRussa feels the need to rotate players like in a volleyball tournament. Pujols' defensive stats at third were not spectacular, but they were not bad (an above average range factor each year 2001-02). The Cards just happened to have two excellent fielders in Placido Polanco and then Scott Rolen. The needed a left fielder and found one in Pujols. He has basically been mostly a left fielder since the start of the 2002 season (about two-thirds of the time). Pujols played in 157 games last season. However, if you add up his games per position, you get 181. Therefore, LaRussa moved Pujols defensively in a game at least 24 times last year. I see this as an advantage that is being (over)used by LaRussa.

If I had to pick one flaw in Pujols' game it would be the lack of walks. He projects to 69 this year and recorded 69 in 2001 and 72 last season. He's no Shea Hillenbrand, but those numbers aren't exactly spectacular. Oh, and his baserunning (8 stolen bases in 14 attempts) isn't anything to write home about either.]

Craig Brink San Angelo TX: First I'd like to say that Barry was robbed of the MVP when they gave it to Terry Pendleton, how much do you think the time off to be with his father will effect Barry's chances of being voted the MVP?

It will depend on his long he is away and how the Giants play in the meantime. I don't think they will play very well without him in the lineup which will prove he is even more valuable than we thought.

[Mike: Actually, Ryne Sandberg and Bonds led the NL with 37 Win Shares. Pendleton had 27, Bobby Bonilla 31, and Will Clark 34. I guess you could say that he and Sandberg were co-robbed. Pendleton was a poor choice.

First, bereavement leave is only three to seven days. What do a handful of games prove anyway? (By the way, Bonds is set to return Tuesday and the Giants got swept in his absence.)]

David, Snellville: Why do you put so much importance on the fact that an MVP has to be on a division leading team. In 1987, Andre Dawson won the MVP while playing for the last place Cubs. you mean to tell me if Pujols wins the triple crown (first time since 1967 its ever happened) and the Cards dont make the playoffs he shouldnt win the MVP???? Youve lost your mind!

For the ninth time, listen to what I say .. I mentioned that Dawson and Banks had won on last place teams and that the MVP doesn't say "from the best or worst team". If you have two players who are equal, you look at who contributed most to a winning situation. I never said it HAD to be from a winning team. Only if two guys are equal. If two guys tie for the Triple Crown and one guy is on a first place team and the other is on a last place team, who are you going to vote for? The team record is a tie-breaker if everything else is equal.

[Mike: Ninth time? A little ruffled, Joe?

If I were Joe, I would counter with "Bad example. Dawson (20 Win Shares) clearly robbed the award from one of the most criminally overlooked players of the last twenty years, Tim Raines (34 WS). Now get out of my face with that weak-ass s%^&". Wow, Joe, calm down. Kiss your mother with that mouth?

Instead Joe countered by contradicting his own words:

One's view of who deserves the MVP depends on one's MVP definition. There are differing opinions about how much weight to give to an individual's performance vs. his team's performance. I believe you must factor in how an MVP candidate's team fares.

Oh, wait, what I meant is that this applies, "Only if two guys are equal, [i]f two guys tie for the Triple Crown."

Not only does he contradict himself, but how likely is it that two guys have exactly the same numbers, let alone tie for the Triple Crown?!?]

Mat (Minneapolis, MN): Great column yesterday, among your best that I've read. I definitely like hearing about the "details" of baseball, like the merits of swinging quicker vs swinging harder. Do you think that the wild card is making the stretch run more interesting this year, or would you prefer straight pennant chases?

I've always felt the Wild Card makes it more exciting. The pennant races can be over at the start of Sept. if it's just a straight pennant race. It's much more exciting when you have 5-6 teams vying for the playoffs.

Plus, the Wild Card assures you the two best teams in each league will be in the playoffs, rather than one team from a tough division gets knocked out and a team for an easier division gets in automatically.

[Mike: You're right. Let's put 'em all in the playoffs!

The wild card has killed some great pennant races though there have been some good wild card races, too.

It's hard to evaluate the wild card given that there has been such a small sample and that the wild card winners have been known to coast and may have played it differently if the division had been on the line.

It comes down to personal opinion, I guess. I don't like letting teams that played 162 games and didn't win anything, a division, a league, in the playoffs, It's the team equivalent of awarding the 1998 MVP to Sammy Sosa. But that's me.

Besides, if the wild card has engendered such excitement, how come the popularity of the sport has suffered since it was implemented. I know there is a myriad of answers as to baseball's popularity problem-Major League Baseball itself being enemy number one-, but I still don't see the Bud-brained tinkerings like wild card and interleague play getting the fans psyched up any more than a tepid rendition of Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll".]

Bryan (New Brunswick): Do you think that Mike Piazza has been too reluctant to move to first base? I know he takes pride in catching, but he is a liability as a catcher at this point in his career. Why does the record for most home runs by a catcher mean more to him than seeing the team win a few more games?

Bryan, it's easy for you or someone else to say he should do something. But this guy wasn't even drafted until a late round. He made himself into a great player. He is the best hitting catcher in the history of the game. He has earned the right to make the decision himself. I don't think he is a selfish player.. he wants to make the decision himself and I think he has earned that right.

[Mike: First, I still don't buy that Piazza's defense is that bad. Bill James rates him a C+ through 2000. Looking at his numbers, I don't see a big dropoff. Yeah, he doesn't throw out a lot of runners but a) who cares? And b) his staffs seem to do better with him than without him. The man is catcher and wants to remain a catcher. Call it fear of the unknown or pride or a bet with ALF or whatever. I doubt that the catcher home run record has much to do with it.

That said, his team has every right to ask Piazza to move to first base. The man has missed a substantial chunk of playing time each of his (complete) years with the Mets. He'll be 35 at the end of the season. A move to first at this stage would probably be wise.]

Francisco Vicens, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: What are your thoughts on Pedro Mart?nez this year ? Is he showing permanent fatigue or do you feel he has another Cy Young left in him ?

The one thing about Pedro I would never do is underestimate his toughness or dedication. I think he is still working back from the arm problems he had and I do think he does have another Cy Young in him in the future, obviously not this year though. As far as toughness, he is one of my favorite pitchers because of his mental toughness.

[Mike: Why are "permanent fatigue" and a Cy Young mutually exclusive? In two of his three Cy Young years he spent some time on the DL (and during the third he was suspended for 9 games). He hasn't pitched a complete season since 1998 and he is a perennial Cy Young candidate.

I think Joe has to divorce the issues of actual injuries and Pedro's proclivities to said injuries and of "underestimat[ing] his toughness or dedication". Can't Pedro be considered a player who just gets injured often without our having to emasculate him? Martinez has been an amazing pitcher while battling these injuries, but we can't just pretend they don't exist.]

nyc lova: Hey Joe. Great first name. How much meal money or allowances to MLB players get from their teams? Thanks Joe!

I heard it is in excess of $100.. around $125 a day. I'm not exactly sure .. we don't get that much at ESPN!!

[Mike: Aw, poor Joe. We poor working stiffs actually have to pay for our own lunches.

By the way, the last CBA secured an annual cost-of-living increase in meal money for the players. That's a great thing to have while you are getting squeezed by the owners.]

Eric (Herkimer, NY): With all the intention Pete Rose is getting, do you think he'll be re-admitted to MLB? Or does he have to admit to gambling and apologize first? Also, if Pete Rose is let back in, do you think it would also be fair to let the members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox be re-admitted too, especially Shoeless Joe Jackson? Thanks for answering this.

Pete seems to be the hot topic for the media right now. It was reported that he already had a deal and baseball denied it. I don't think he has a deal done either. I'm not sure he will. A lot of things would have to fall into place for that to happen. They are working on it though.

[Mike: Intention? It all seemed to happen by accident.

Yeah, I'd let Shoeless Joe play. Isn't he on the Newark Bears right now?

Great answer by Joe a.k.a Basil Exposition. Thanks for the opinion. As for me I think that the major points of the Baseball Prospectus story outline what will happen with Rose's suspension.

Joe should point out that Rose and Jackson are not analogous since they broke different parts of Rule 21. Rose can only be banned under 21 (f) (OTHER MISCONDUCT) since MLB found that it couldn't find that he bet on baseball (that would be 21 (d) (BETTING ON BALL GAMES) anyway). Jackson is banned Under 21(a)(MISCONDUCT IN PLAYING BASEBALL). ]

Joe: Tampa: Mr. Morgan, I'm a huge fan of you and John Miller. I'm also a big NY Yankee fan and I know it's wrong to question the man, Joe Torre, but I'm wondering: If you were the manager ogf the NY Yankees, where would you hit Alfonso Soriano in the batting order? To keep leading him off seems crazy to me!

I talked to Joe about that topic last year. He felt when Alfonso Soriano was down in the lineup, he seems to swing more for HRs and swung at a lot of bad pitchers. Torre felt in the leadoff spot, he didn't feel the pressure to drive in runs and didn't swing at as many bad pitches. I agreed with him.

[Mike: I checked out his stats and they don't bear that out. Here are his stats per position in the batting order for 2000-2003 and for this season only:

2000-2003ABAVGOBPSLGOPSHR/PABB/PAK/PA
#11185.287.329.513.8424.76%4.13%20.32%
#231.161.161.258.4190.00%0.00%19.35%
#345.267.283.489.7716.52%2.17%17.39%
#610.200.200.300.5000.00%0.00%30.00%
#772.306.333.486.8192.67%2.67%21.33%
#8218.303.336.436.7722.18%3.06%18.78%
#9285.246.290.460.7504.61%6.25%21.71%
2003ABAVGOBPSLGOPSHR/PABB/PAK/PA
#1471.278.329.490.8194.34%5.33%18.15%
#343.233.244.465.7096.82%2.27%18.18%
#77.429.429.429.8580.00%0.00%14.29%
#85.200.429.200.6290.00%0.00%0.00%

The first thing that you notice is the dearth of data for any position but leadoff. Batting third this year, perhaps Soriano was doing as Torre described. But I find little to support his assertions when Soriano is batting lower in the lineup.]

Tim (Lawton, OK): Hello Joe! Do you think this is finally the time Phil Mickelson wins his 1st major? He's a good guy to cheer for. Your thoughts?

No. But he is a good player and should win one eventually. I just don't think it will be this weekend. I think his first win will come with him coming from behind. There is too much pressure when you are on top.

[Mike: BTFB-Back to f'ing baseball!]

Nathan (Princeton, NJ): Do you think if Pujols has to serve his two-game suspension that it will hurt his chances of extending his hitting streak?

Anytime you are suspended, it hurts your game. When you can't go on the field and play, it bothers you for awhile. Anytime you are out of your routine it has an effect. That said, if anyone can handle adversity, I think he can. If you saw the broadcast Sunday, I said how special I think this guy is. He understands what he has to do to be successful. He is a special player, I'm not sure how he can get much better, but he will continue to mature.

[Mike: "Adversity"? Pujols lost his cool after getting plunked and punched Gary Bennett. He admitted to it, at least:

"I threw the punch, I should have been [kicked out]," Pujols told the Post-Dispatch, adding that Bennett said "some things that I didn't appreciate. It's something where you react. It's part of the game."

So he got suspended. As Pujols said, it's part of the game. Streak be damned. I know he's the flavor of the week, but let's be honest here.

Maybe he should mature by not showing up pitchers after hitting home runs, and then when he gets plunked the next day for doing so, maybe he shouldn't slug the opponents.

Besides couldn't a couple of days off recharge him?]

Cesar from Albuquerque, NM: Hey Joe - I got bumped off last week because of the early wrap up, so hopefully I'll get these questions in. First, Mike Hampton is now 10-5 and pitching with confidence. Even though Leo Mazzone hasn't thrown a single pitch in a game this year, has he pulled off a miracle? Second, what is Dontrelle Willis' chance at winning the Cy Young? Thanks.

It took awhile for him to look like he was back on track. A lot of the reason he has won 7 in a row is because the Braves score a lot of runs. But his last game shows that he is back. Mazzone has always been my favorite pitching coach. I learn more talking to him about pitching than anyone else. I use a lot of what he tells me on the broadcasts. I'm sure he's had an effect on Hampton.

[Mike: I think the jury is still out on Hampton. He has pitched three nice ballgames in a row, but he has been very inconsistent this year. His 8-game winner streak is more a product of the Braves offensive prowess than his pitching ability.

Maybe Mazzone deserves a plaque in Cooperstown just for making Hampton again into a reasonable major-league starting pitcher, but I don't know if he can declare victory yet.

Oh, and the question Joe ignored, about Willis' Cy Young chances- he's tied for 12th in the NL in wins. He does not qualify for the ERA title, but he wouldn't be in the top 10. I'd say his chances are slim to none. Frankly, his teammate Mark Redman is a better candidate.]

Marc (NYC): Joe, Sitting in the dark here in Manhatten working on a backup generator at work, do you think the Mariners pitching will hold up over the final six weeks and put the Mariners in the playoffs?

That's what makes baseball such a great sport ... no one knows. Will the Yankees piching hold up? The A's? No one knows. That's why Sept. is such a great time of the year, just to see who can handle the pressure. I can't answer that, but I think they will be OK.

[Mike: Great Answer! Let's actually check. A number of pitching staffs are having problems in August that might not bode well down the stretch. The M's are 16th in the majors in ERA (4.15) in August. However, trailing them are the Phillies (17th, 4.18), Yankees (21st, 4.56 ERA), Red Sox (22nd, 4.56), Cards (23rd, 4.90), White Sox (29th, 5.77) and Royals (30th-last, 5.82).

It's no wonder the Twins are creeping back into the race and the Cards are now in third. The Mariners don't seem to be faring worse than anyone else though the A's 3.08 ERA (4th) may be a concern for them.]

Sam Cambridge, MA: What is your feeling on the expanded rosters in September? Do you think it makes sense for the rosters to change for the most important part of the season?

Normally I would say no, but the expanding of the rosters used to be for a different reason, to bring up some prospects and give them some experience. It would motivate them to get back the following year. Now, because of pennant races, they look for those guys to come up and contribute. I think it's OK but I don't necessarily agree with it. Some teams that are not in the races, deserve to have that chance to bring some guys up. But you are right, you probably should have to play with what you have. There is good and bad in both sides of it. I was one of those guys that got brought up at the end of the season and it definately motivated me to get back.

[Mike: So teams in a pennant race didn't use their prospects in September in Joe's day due to some sort of a gentlemen's agreement. How noble!

I remember Marty Bystrom going 5-0 in a September callup in 1980. Either you send all the best prospects home in September for all teams, or you just suck it up.

I do have a problem with the loophole that allows a Francisco Rodriguez with 5.2 innings of experience to be used in the playoffs because some no-name, who wasn't going to make the team anyway, gets injured for the season in spring training. The playoffs are "the most important part of the season" in my opinion.]

Andrew (Notre Dame, IN): Hey Joe, Do you think right now if Mike Vick quit football and focused on baseball he could be a major leaguer in a few years?

Probably not at this stage of his career. But maybe earlier on he could have. Remember, MJ tried to come back after missing baseball for awhile and he wasn't successful. You can't go away for a long time and just come back. There are too many intangibles to deal with.

[Mike: Like he could be any worse than Drew Henson?

By the way, MJ never played ball past high school. His baseball "career" was a boondoggle to recoup some profit for Jerry Reinsdorf .]

Dave (Newark New Jersey): Joe, I was really glad today to get my power back so I could chat with you. Do you think that The American League winning the All-Star game have any affect on the World Series? Will the MLB office get a lot of scrutiny becouse of the decision to give home field advantage to the winning team of the All-Star Game?

They should get scrutiny for giving such an important thing away on one game. But very rarely does the series go to 7 games.. we've seen it recently, but historically it hasn't happened that much. It may not be of importance this year.. I just hope they get rid of that idea soon.

[Mike: Get Scrutiny, the gift that just keeps giving!

First, MLB has already deservedly caught some flak on this subject. However, given that the previous system was simply to alternate home field between leagues was no less "fair". I object to it since it is a silly misuse of the All-Star game and was just instituted as a shell game to help us forget the PR fiasco that the tied All-Star game the previous year was.

"But very rarely does the series go to 7 games.. we've seen it recently, but historically it hasn't happened that much.": Actually, of all the possible outcomes, a seven game series has happened the most often, 36 times. Of the rest, five- and six-game series have resulted in 21 World Series, four games in 17, and eight in three World Series. Seven-game Series have resulted 37% of the time. Is that rare?

Besides, home field comes into play even if the Series does not go seven games.

The team with the home-field advantage is 8-9 in four-game series. This is about what we would expect given that each team has two home games. However, in a five-game series, the team with home-field is only 8-13, meaning that the fifth game at the "disadvantaged" team is a big advantage. In 6-game series, again the "home" team is at about .500 at 10-11. In a seven-game series, home field comes into play with the "home" team winning 22 of 36. (All three 8-game series were won by the "home" team.)

So for 5-game series home-field advantage is actually a disadvantage and 7-gamers it is an actual advantage. But should one opt to kick off, not to receive, if one wins the coin toss? Given that 7-game series are more likely, I would rather have home-field. It does put pressure on the team with home-field in the first two games though.]

Trevor (Seattle): Questec is only installed on 10 MLB ballparks. Do you think it should be installed on all of them, none of them, or kept on only 10?

I think that what has happened is QuesTec has become an excuse for poor execution. The umpires and pitchers are using it as an excuse. I don't see how it should have that much effect on the game. If I was going to say one thing, if you are going to do it, have it in all the stadiums. But again, I feel like it's being used more as an excuse than it has had an effect on the game. It just hasn't had that much of an effect.

[Mike: Here are the 10 QuesTec stadiums in question:

Bank One Ballpark (Arizona)
Fenway Park (Boston)
Tropicana Field (Tampa Bay)
Jacobs Field (Cleveland)
Miller Park (Milwaukee)
Edison Field (Anaheim)
Network Associates Coliseum (Oakland)
Minute Maid Park (Houston)
Shea Stadium (Mets)
Yankee Stadium (Yankees)

I have attempted to find a means by which I can determine the percentage of walks and strikeouts to plate appearances for a given stadium. However, I can't find a source (ESPN, MLB) that lists data per stadium. I can find what each team did at home, but not what their opponents did in their stadium.

I thought it would be interesting to test Joe's theory that QuesTec is just an "excuse". Are more walks allowed in QuesTec parks? More strikeouts? I guess that I'll have to call this one a push until I can prove otherwise.]

Kenton (Reisterstown, MD): Joe, thanks for the excellent work! The Royals and Twins begin a big series today, with 4 games currently separating the teams. What are the keys for KC to push MN even farther behind? Second, with KC's success this year, can fans anticipate some higher tier free agents to want to play for Tony Pena and the rest of the team next year?

I think KC just has to play like they did against the Yankees, relaxed. The pressure is on the Twins. They can fall way behind if they don't step up in this series.

[Mike: The key is winning. If that's too simplistic, then pitching. KC's staff has been abysmal since the break.

As far as free agents wanting to play for Tony Pena, unless Pena is willing to split his salary, I doubt that the Royals will garner too many. More likely the will lose Carlos Beltran to free agency.]

The Ugly

John in Atlanta: Hey Joe - Rafael Furcal's unassisted triple play the other day was pretty cool. What do you think is the most impressive/hardest personal accomplishment a player can have during a game? Ex. hitting for cycle, no hitter, Four home run game etc...

Since I think of the game in more than one area, it would be getting four hits, scoring four runs, stealing a few bases and making some great ba0serunning plays. A COMPLETE game is what I would strive for, not just dominance in one area.

[Mike: My favorite is doing a backflip onto the field, getting kissed by Morganna, getting run over by the tarp machine, and then going back to the room and killing the family cat. Now that's a COMPLETE game.

Look, Joe. Answer the question. Ooh, will the great Joe Morgan deign to do some analysis today?

The question was not the most complete accomplishment, just the rarest, if I understand the gist if the question. Unassisted triple play is pretty good. There have only been 12 in major-league history. Hitting for the cycle in sequence has only been done 13 times (most recently by Brad Wilkerson).]

Joe Bruce/Jacksonville, FL: You said you don't have the patience to be a manager and also could not tolerate losing. I think that's exactly why baseball needs you Joe! You were the spark plug for the Big Red Machine. You motivated a team full of stars. I think your talent and energy would encourage today's players to give 100%. Not to mention that no one understands the game better than you. You truly have one of the most brilliant minds in baseball! God bless you Joe.

I won't speak of myself. I think in general there are a lot of misconceptions about the game, that all you have to do is hit to be in the major leagues. We have let one-dimensional guys become stars. To be a superstar you used to have to be able to do everything. Now, if a guy can hit .300 we say he is a superstar. That allows him to not put the full effort into being a complete player. Baseball has made a mistake by putting those kinds of guys on a pedastel. But I still do not have the patience to manage.

[Mike: Maybe I'm more cynical than Joe is na´ve, but this has to be a complete tongue-in-cheek put-on.

That said, what color is the sky while Joe is answering this question? "Now, if a guy can hit .300 we say he is a superstar". If anything that is less true today than in the Big Red days. Sabermetrics have made many leery of empty .300 hitters. Besides, any player worth his salt has been putting up decent power stats in the last decade due to the offensiveness of the current era. That may help mask deficiencies in considerably less than perfect players, but rarely is it solely represented in batting average.

Besides, this Joe Morgan, the man who recently ran an article about how on-base percentage is overrated. He praises the batting average along with the home run and RBI totals. And now he turns his back to his glittery toy?

Anyway, back on planet earth, I guess Joe is saying basically that he feels today's players are spoiled and overrated and he doesn't have the patience to show them the error of their ways. It's not an uncommon reaction to managing by great ex-ballplayers. Ted Williams had the same problem.]

Jeff Schwiers - Cincinnati, OH: Dear Joe, First I would like to say that is an honor to have won the autographed base that you had up for auction on MLB.com last month. It will become a centerpiece for my sports memorabilia display in my home. I can understand why you wouldn't want to be a major league manager. But would you ever consider being a general manager? As you know, your former team is currently in need of one and I think you would be an excellent GM. I myself think the Reds should go after Omar Minaya and pull him from Montreal along with Frank Robinson as manager. Everyone is talking about Pete Rose being reinstated and how Carl Lindner would like for him to manage in 2005. I'm a huge Big Red Machine fan and love Pete as much as the next Cincinnatian, but there is no way he should be allowed to manage. It just wouldn't be right. Jeff Schwiers Cincinnati

I can't disagree with anything you have said .. in fact, I think Omar Minaya is the best GM for a small market team. He understands the limitatins. He has done a fantastic job in Montreal. They could have won the wild card if not for Guererro being out. I agree 100 percent about Frank Robinson. He is a great manager. The GM is the most important position in Cincinnati right now. Minaya should get the job. I think I could be a good GM but I'm not sure. I just don't really want to do it. I have the second best job right now, behind playing. Broadcasting is the next best thing.

[Mike: So Joe agrees that it's an honor to have won his autograph and that he would make a great GM? How magnanimous.

Minaya is probably the worst GM for a small-market team possible. He has taken one of the best-ranked minor-league systems in baseball and traded it for a mediocre major-league team with no future.

I do agree that Minaya and the Reds would be a match made in heaven. This is the third week in a row that Joe has been championing Minaya for the Cincinnati GM job. By the logic being currently employed in the Arnold Schwarzenegger gubernatorial race in California-a bigger popularity contest than your high school's race for president-Joe owes all other candidates equal time.]

John, Topeka, KS: After winning a short series with the Yankees and scoring a bunch of runs, do you think the Royals have a chance against such an experienced and expensive team? Will the Royals pitching do them in in the bright lights of the playoffs?

I've said this all along, that the Royals are a young team and don't have the experience in a pennant race .. BUT I thinik Pena has done an unbeleivable job of keeping them in the race. When you get in the deeper part of the season, the momentum can keep you going. They have proven they are a tough team that can play under pressure. I would not discount them in any way.

[Mike: This is under "The Ugly" not because of Joe's pat, vapid response, but rather due to the fact that this is the stupidest question that I have ever seen in print. "The Royals just scored a bunch of runs and took a series from the Yankees, so do they have a chance against the Yankees?"

Black hole sun, won't you come and wash away the rain? Black hole sun, won't you come? Won't you come? Oh, darn, I got his voice mail.]


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