We here at Mike's Baseball Rants love Joe Morgan and we especially love Joe Morgan Chat Day. Joe answers range from sage to silly often in the course of one sentence. This week we get an early JMCD on Wednesday and we are all a-flutter.
My latest take on Joe is that he is Cartesian. No, not because he is two-dimensional. Because the famous phrase coined by Rene Descartes "Cogito ergo sum" (or for you lowly English speakers, "I think, therefore I am") sums Joe up completely. He thinks about everything. He can while away the hours conferring with the flowers. He deconstructs the world of baseball analysis and rebuilds it in based on the existence of his own private baseball God-Sparky Anderson, I think. I hyperbolically doubt it.
Like Descartes (pronounced "DES-Cart-EEEEZ-ah"), Joe believes in primary and secondary qualities in the epistemological dealings with the world or at least baseball. The primary quality of his analysis takes the form of "I know it because it's true." The secondary quality is based on "Well, stats don't tell you everything. Baseball was just better when I was a player. Take my word for it."
Joe gave us plenty to think about yesterday. Witness:
Lawrence Arendt (Chicago): Joe, When will baseball fix the World Series with some day games and earlier evening starts? Or don't Selig and Fox get it?
Joe Morgan: Everything has to do with ratings and trying to get the biggest audience. Prime Time on the East Coast is 8pm. It's all about trying to get the biggest audience.
[Mike: Right, they just don't realize that they are alienating the audience by doing so-Pound foolish, yudda yudda.]
Bill(CINCINNATI): Hi Joe, just curious on your thoughts of Basball letting Pete Rose take part in tonights celebration, but not allowing him to do it in Cincy..Seems hypocrytical to me...Thanks Bill
Joe Morgan: It is very hypocritical.. you are either in or out. It shouldn't be half way. Some people believe it is only because of the money involved. Tonight it is being sponsored so they are taking the money. Their was no money involved in Cincinnati.
[Mike: You go girl.]
mike (moraga, ca): joe, Ortiz was throwing pitches that sank as they crossed the plate yet the announcers kept saying he was throwing fastballs. Can a fastball have that kind of consistent movement down in the zone?
Joe Morgan: Yeah, a sinker is still a fastball. That is what it is. A sinker by definition sinks down and it is still a fastball. Some move sideways, those are cutters.
mike (moraga): joe, as a follow-up to my prior question, using your definition of a cut fastball, how do you differentiate a cutter from a slider?
Joe Morgan: A cutter has tighter spin, it rotates faster. It's rotating almost in a circle. A slider rotates from 1 to 7 on a clock, think of it that way. The cutter is actually supposed to move in circle and move across the zone slightly. The slider moves faster than curve ball because it has a tighter spin.
[Mike: This is Joe in his element. Cogito, baby! Cogito!]
Brian McElroy (Greenwich, CT): Mr. Morgan, you have been a hero to me since childhood. You never let me down as a player, a commentator, or as a role model. Still had your poster on my wall in college in 1990. You were the most complete player in history, you went back to college for your degree, and you are a credit to all athletes and a gentleman. Loved your book and learned about what you went through in Durham and at L.A.X. You are a real hero in every sense of the word. Keep up the great work. Thank you. p.s. Ever consider politcal office?
Joe Morgan: Thanks again .. I am a close friend of former President Bush and when I played for Houston he always was trying to get me involved in politics. I don't see myself as a politician. I do see myself having a responsiblity as a role model though. I have twin daughters and I have raised two older daughters. I think my responsiblity goes beyond just raising them. I want to help all kids understand their direction in life. I was taught as a kid "It takes a whole village to raise a kid". That is part of who I am and the way I was brought up.
Joe Morgan: But politics .. no.
[Mike: He is a pretty cool guy even if he can't spell "responsibility". Joe, can I chat with you and say what a great guy you are?]
James- Ft. Pierce: Joe- Can the Detroit Tigers get back to a respectful competitive club again?
Joe Morgan: The one thing that worries me about a lot of teams, not just the Tigers, it all starts at the top. By that I mean it starts at the top of the organization ... not just on the field. There is a reason some teams have continued to lose. With the right people at the top you have seen some great turnarounds.. the Angels, Twins, etc. Some teams have gone from last to worst and it all starts with the top of the franchise. That is the only way things will change. It's a filter down theory.
[Mike: Yeah, and it wouldn't kill them to take a pitch once in a while.]
Rick (lompoc, Ca): Do you think the angles can fisish this in pac bell?
Joe Morgan: If the Giants do not get a good performance from Reuter tonight, there is going to be a lot of pressure on Schmidt. But if the Giants pull it out tonight, I think they win the Series. Tonight's game is the most important one of the Series. Whoever wins the game tonight wins the Series in my mind.
[Mike: I think whoever wins the last game will win the series. No one ever agrees with me though.]
Brad (Indiana): Joe, Is their a reason why the Giants have been unable to score without the home run? Can Reuter help their bullpen? Thanks and Best of Luck.
Joe Morgan: They don't have a lot of speed and are not hitting around a lot. They are depending on driving the ball, that is just how they are built. You will score a lot of runs but not consistently that way.
[Mike: Brad, how are Janet and Dr. Scott? As far as the Giant's lack of scoring, how about their not hitting? The top 3 need to get on base (like they did, at least the top 2, last night).]
Danny Homosassa, FL: Hi, Joe I am wondering what you think of the situation with the Devil Rays and Lou Pinella. Do you think the Devil Rays can stop their losing ways with him? Or is it just false hope? Thank you for your time
Joe Morgan: Lou has proven that he can get the most out of the players around him and that is what is important for managers. They need a new image that will say they will not accept losing. Lou will not let anyone relax while losing so I think he could make a difference.
[Mike: Danny, have you ever considered changing your name to Danny Not-that-there's-anything-wrong-with-it? I hope Piniella can pitch.]
Doc Burnette (Santa Barbara): What do you think of the way the Angels pitching staff has dealt with Bonds so far, especially the first inning walk last night?
Joe Morgan: I'm not a fan of walking guys intentionally. That is one of the weaknesses of baseball. You can take the superstar out of the game just by walking him. You can't take the ball away from Jordan or keep the puck away from Gretzky, etc. Every other sport they get a chance to do their thing but baseball allows you to take the greatness of a player away from him and I don't like that. What if they never let Jordan touch the ball, how great would he be?
[Mike: Pitching around guys is part of the strategy, even if they don't walk them. Baseball is not analogous to hockey and basketball because the defense holds the ball. If a hockey player kept the puck away from a teammate it would be because he would hurt the team not help it. In the other sports if the defense hold the ball, they become the offense. They do, however, try to stay away from great defenders. That's analogous.]
Shane Davis: Will the Nations Capital ever have a baseball team again?
Joe Morgan: I think they might .. for political reasons more than anything.
[Mike: How about the millions of DC-onians who have to drive 30 minutes to see a baseball game. And then it's the Orioles!]
Garrett, Laramie Wy: What do you think the Rockies need to do to be in contention next year?
Joe Morgan: That's a hard one .. they played really well when Hurdle took over but fell back to where they were before. Obviousley there is a mindset that needs to be changed. You have to be tougher to play there, esp. if you are a pitcher. They have to become more mentally tough. That is a start.
[Mike: Laramie, Wy? Laramie why not? Yuck Yuck.
By the way, how about they get some better players? Or bring Coors down to earth so that they don't hit like Pete Gray on the road.]
Tony (Lansing): Joe, Now that the Tigers have hired Alan Trammell, do you think they go to the World Series next year or will it take Alan a season or two?
Joe Morgan: If you look at the Tigers, he can't have anything but a positive impact. They can only go up. Whether it will be immediate or long range I don't know. But they can only go up.
[Mike: Why? What makes Trammell so special? He was a pretty good player but who's to say that will translate into a managerial career? He has no track record as a manager to go by.]
Rudy (Los Angeles): Good Morning Mr. Morgan, was it just me or did you notice Bonds admiring his homerun a little too much? I mean at that point of the game the homerun was meaningless. Also in the players introduction before the game Bonds, unlike his teamates, just jogged past his teammates and went to his spot of the line instead of high-fiving his teammate. Is this a man with way too much of an ego or am I misinterpreting this?
Joe Morgan: It depends on what is too much. When you are frustarted, the only way to get that out is to frustrate the other team. The way they treat Bonds, he can do whatever he wants when he hits a HR. They are emabrassing him so he can do the same. He did admire it for a long period of time. But his HRs are never meaningless. He gets everyone's attention. His HRs are different.
[Mike: Well, Rudy. I've been told you can't fail. Here's a message to you. Oh, love that eighties music. By the way, could you maybe be an Angels' (or Dodgers') fan?
How is an intentional walk an embarrassment? I noticed those two incidents he mentions re. Bonds. Who knows what Bonds was thinking? Who cares? The HR in game three was not meaningless at the time. It cut the lead to four. If you mean in general, how could that many HRs be meanigless?]
David (Lincoln): What are your thoughts on the Cubs turning down Ryne Sandburgs offer to manage them? It seems like no matter what they do they are going to get the same result so why not at least get a fan favorite? Though Billy Williams should have gotten the job when Baylor did maybe he'll step up.
Joe Morgan: I really didn't see that .. I'm surprised that he would want to manage first of all. I think the Cubs in my opinion want to get away from the Cub tradition of losing and not winning anything. I think they will bring someone in without Cub history. Whether that is a good idea I don't know.
[Mike: Has Sandberg ever managed? Why not get a minor-league manager with no name put a good track record (a la Jim Tracy) not just a fan favorite? It would be the first thing that the Cubs have done right in years.]
Shane (Cincinnati): Joe, what do you think the Reds will do with their 1st base/ outfield logjams. Do you think they could move anyone to pick up pitching help for the new ballpark? Bowden has backe dhimself into a corner with the " wait for 2003 " comments. it's 2003 and we dont have any pitching.
Joe Morgan: They have to do that .. they can't keep the status quo and think they will perform better. They have to get rid of one or two of those guys and get some pitchers.
[Mike: Come back, Shane? Well, didn't they pick up about a half-dozen before the trade deadline. They just need to get some decent pitchers is the problem, not just Boone-favorite Jimmie Haynes.]
Frank (Philly): Joe, could you speak a moment to the importance of speed in baseball, not only on offense, but defense as well? Lack of it has hurt the A's the last three years, and is hurting the Giants in the field currently.
Joe Morgan: You are 100 percent correct .. speed is just as important on defense as it is offense. Speed on defense helps your pitching staff and can make a good pitching staff great. On offense, it allows you to put pressure on defense. I am a big advocate of speed in both offensive and defensive situations. That is the only thing you can control. You can control stealing bases and running the bases well. You can put more pressure on the defense that way. The A's, I watch them a lot, and I am just disappointed in their approach. They think on base perc. and hitting HRs is all that is important and that is why they don't win the close games in postseason. If the other team doesn't walk them, they don't win. The Yankees only gave up four walks to them two years ago and the A's couldn't score. Minnesota didn't walk them either and they got the same result.
[Mike: Are you one of the Phillies Phranks? Maybe all this proves is that a short series is not reflective of a team's actual ability. By the way, you can't steal first, as they say. You need to get on base to score runs and HRs do score them rather effectively.]
Jesse (Miami): Joe, do you see the Expos moving anytime soon? Would DC be able to get the team there in 2003 or 2004? How soon could we see a move?
Joe Morgan: I see them moving but they will not move this year. There are a lot of circumstances that will not allow them to move this year. They don't really have a place to go anyway. There are some unsettled issues still so it won't happen right away.
[Mike: RFK can get ready by opening day. Reportedly it can be ready in 6 weeks.]
Brian McElroy (Greenwich, CT): Sparky Anderson called you the smartest player he ever coached. Who do you consider to be a smart player today?
Joe Morgan: I don't see all the players, I just see the games I broadcast. Barry Bonds is one of the smartest. He understands the game. Roberto Alomar also. I think there are a lot of smart players in the game but those two stand out in the way they understand what the game is all about.
[Mike: He also called Barbaro Garbey the second coming of Mickey Mantle.]
Sung (NTHS): Hello MR. Morgan, I've got a question about most memorable MLB moments. It's at the baseball page on espn and it asked what the most memorable moment is. And I obviously voted for Ripken's break, but 1/4 of the people voted for Gibson's homer, but isn't play every-sing game for like 13 years is more harder than just one homerun?
Joe Morgan: The problem with that poll is the people who are voting now only know the young players. To me, the Bobby Thompson HR has to overshadow everything because it is what baseball is all about... being down in the 9th and winning. The Gibson HR only won one game .. the first one. I guess Bill Mazeroski's HR should be up there .. for me, Hank Aaron's HR was the most memorable. The HR record was and still is the greatest achievent for a baseball player. Gibson's HR was great but it just won one game. Fisk's HR was more memorable than that one.
[Mike: How many games should a home run win? The funny thing is that I agree with his assessment.]
Bubba, St.Louis: Hey Joe, What do you think the Cardinals will do about their pitching staff for next year? Will they resign Woody and Wright? Or will they chase the likes of Clemens or Glavine? How do you think they will come together on the mound?
Joe Morgan: I don't think they will go after Clemens but maybe Glavine if he is available. Clemens is an AL guy. A lot of Clemens success is due to the AL. If they go after anyone it would be Glavine.
[Mike: What?!? Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Certainly the best of his generation. He could have pitched successfully in the NL. I could see if Joe said that his age is an issue or that he wants to remain in the AL.]
Frank (Philly): Joe, do you see the success of the Angels as a precursor to a more-balanced approach to offense in baseball? For 5 years, it's been wait for the HR, don't steal, don't bunt, don't hit-and-run.
Joe Morgan: It should .. over the history of the game, the complete history, the team that can do more has won. The Yankees won 4 or 5 pennants without being built around the HR. The Yankees won 4 or 5 years and only had a 30HR guy once. The Angels are a copy of the Yankees success.
[Mike: Modus ponens, Joe. The Yankees did not win because they did not hit a lot of home runs. They won despite it. Look at how the Angels have won in the playoffs. They have scored in bunches with small ball and with the long ball.]
Jorge (Watertown): Hello Mr. Morgan, thanks for all the insightful analysis. About Bonds-- Do you think that he's a selfish hitter? True, he has no control over the intentional walks, but he will never, ever go for a borderline pitch, even when he could make something happen.
Joe Morgan: In one of my Sunday night games, the only criticism I gave him was just that. When there is a runner in scoring position, the great hitters would expand their strike zone a little. I don't think it's selfish it's just the way he is zoned in. Ted Williams was very similar, it's just their style. That is the only criticism I have given him.
[Mike: Thanks for joining us, Tony LaRussa. I thought you were too busy crying over spilt milk. Bonds is the best hitter in the game. I think he knows what he is doing.]
Mazzella (NY): Joe, huge fan. I want to go into broadcasting. How did you attain your smooth approach in the booth?
Joe Morgan: I wasn't so smooth in the beginning .. when I started, I can't even watch those tapes! I mean that. The one thing I have tried to do as a broadcaster, is not be a broadcaster. I want to be the guy sitting on the coach next to you just talking about the game. I don't want to downplay mistakes, I want to talk about why it happened or didn't happen.
Thank you for the compliment.
[Mike: Is that the bench coach? It might be a bit uncomfortable for him.]
Joe Morgan: Thanks for all the questions.. thanks for staying interested so far this season. Because of all the interest this season in chatting with me, I will make sure to do one more either towards the end of the series or right after.
[Mike: Joe, only one more chat session with you this season. What will I do all offseason?