Joe Morgan Chat Day Is the Loneliest Chat Day of the Week
Here at Mike's Baseball Rants, Inc., we-and by "we", we mean the royal we as in "I" because there's only me-love Joe Morgan chat day at ESPN. We start kvelling in giggly anticipation the night before, and it just keeps growing the entire day until we can barely keep it inside. Maybe therapy would help.
Anyway, why is Joe Morgan chat day so exciting you may ask? Infidel, how can you ask such a sacrilegious question!?! Well, now that you have, let's examine it. Joe Morgan is suffering from baseball bipolar disorder. One minute he's Dr. Jeckyl with great insight, the next he is Mr. Hyde with a preposterous, and then finally he is just Heckle with an unintentionally crack-up funny statement. I have to admit that this is an off week: Joe is lucid for almost the entire chat session, but he does drop a few pearls. So without further ado, let's go:
Jake (Atlanta): What do you think of Larry Dolan's comments earlier this week about George Steinbrenner? Do you think The Boss's heavy spending is good for baseball?
Joe Morgan: I guess if you read the column I wrote about Steinbrenner, you would understand my reasons. It's not his fault; he works under the rules of baseball. And he always reinvests in his team. He's not the problem. The problem started before he became an owner by not having revenue sharing and the like. Those things were part of the makeup before George, and they are the problems baseball faces today.
[Mike: Testify, Joe]
Mike D. (Grand Forks, ND): Joe, you mentioned that Sanders would be a better fit than Kent for the 3 hole in San Fran beause [sic] he brings both speed and power. Wouldn't placing Sanders ahead of Bonds negate his speed? Why steal when they'll just walk Bonds to get to Kent, who seems to struggles without protection?
Joe Morgan: What happens when Bonds makes an out and Sanders is on base? He can score on a double or steal a base to stay out of a double play. It's a matter of using speed the right way. He can get into scoring position for Bonds or Kent.
Joe Morgan: And I think Sanders needs more help as a hitter than Kent does. And hitting in front of Bonds would help him. He's not as good a hitter as Kent is.
[Mike: Good. Of course, batting order is not as important as we have always been led to believe, but Joe isn't blinded by Sanders' speed. It's nice, but Kent is a much better hitter as Joe concludes.]
Scott (New lenox, IL): Joe: It's hard not to notice ESPN's blatant bias towards all things Barry Bonds, who's not the most charismatic and likeable athlete in the world. In light of this, when is the network going to stop shoving this guy down baseball fan's throats already?
Joe Morgan: Are we looking for nice guys or the ability of a player? The nicest guy I ever played with was Bob Lillis. Will we put him front and center or will you put a guy out there based on ability? When you watch a game, you are watching a guy play, not watching what he does at home. You only think he's a bad guy because a writer may have said he is. We only get a writer's impression of what he is. I'm not defending Barry because he has shortcomings. But what you know is what you've heard from other people. You can only judge what you see on TV when he performs. Otherwise, you are taking someone's word for it. But I think the fans would rather see Bonds play, with his shortcomings, than to see Lillis play. It's about performance, not personality.
[Mike: Joe, very good points: 1) People believe everything reporters spoonfeed to them. 2) Just because a reporter says that Bonds is a bad guy, it doesn't mean that he is. 3) Even if he is a complete jerk, he's a tremendous player and that's what the games about. Now, Joe you're ahead on poinst, all you have to do is duck and weave and you'll come out ahead... Oh No!]
Justin, Cedar Falls IA: Hey Joe. Just saw that Alfonso Soriano just became the 5th 25-25 second baseman in baseball history, joining you in that group. How high do you think he could go, maybe eventually be a 50-50 man, or is that just too far out of reach? Thanks.
Joe Morgan: At the beginning I thought it was too far. Giambi said he could do it. I thought it was farfetched, but he's definitely within reach. I don't think there are any limits on what he can do. Read the column I wrote on him. I think he has the most ability of any second baseman I've seen, and he reminds of Juan Samuel.
[Mike: Joe, you think that you'll placate me by plagiarizing my Samuel-Soriano comparisons? To think that Soriano could be the first 50-50 man, that is really inane. Could he do it? Anything is possible. Are the chances so great as to merit discussion? I don't think so. He had never hit more than 18 in a season in American organized ball before this year, and he played almost 200 games in Japanes organizations and only hit 12 home runs in total in their bandboxes. Could he be a late bloomer like Rafael Palmeiro or Sammy Sosa? He could be, but it is much more likely that this is a career year.]
Michael, College Park, MD: Good morning, Mr. Morgan. Clemente or Vlad Guerrero?
Joe Morgan: At this point, you'd have to take Clemente. He's in the Hall of Fame, had 3,000 hits and all. Guerrero may get there, but you can't compare players from different eras. If Clemente played today, he'd hit more homers. If Guerrero played in Clemente's day, he wouldn't hit as many. But if I had a choice between the two to start a team, I would take Clemente, but only because Guerrero is so young.
[Mike: But Joe, you realize Clemente is dead and if he weren't he would be 68, a little too old to play even in old-timers games. Clemente had 377 Win Shares for his career, which places him at 62nd all-time, but he was the third best right fielder of his era (behind Aaron and Robinson). Guererro is 26, is only in his fifth full major-league year, and entered the year with 119 Win Shares. By Clemente's 26th birthday he had 72 Win Shares even though he had played 6 seasons and had just begun to be one of the stars of his team. I'm not saying that Guerrero will be remembered in 50 years as a better player than Clemente. I'm just saying that he has been a better player to this stage in his career than Clemente was. Who says that you can't compare among eras? By the way, why is comparing within an era any easier when you have some players who call Coor's Field home and others who call Turner Field mi casa?]
Will (Dallas): Joe, do you think a 1985 Cardinals type offense with all speed and not much power would succeed in baseball today?
Joe Morgan: I don't think it would work as well as it did in 1985 because the parks are smaller and the balls are livelier. I think you have to hit home runs to be a good team. Speed will keep you out of slumps, but you still need home runs. If you get far behind, speed won't make up the difference; home runs will. I think you need a combination. But yes, I think steals are very important.
[Mike: It's a Joe Morgan Special hold the pickles. Baseball was just better in the past, trust him. If the 1985 Cardinals passed through the Time Tunnel to the present, they would not be able to compete in today's game playing the brand of ball they were known for. Speed is a great asset, but the way they used it (bunts, hit-and-run, steals, etc.) used up too many outs. That's fine when you're winning 2-1 and you need to sacrifice the outs to get the one or two runs that you'll need in the game across the plate. But when you're winning 7-4, you need to optimize the number of people on base for your Earl-Weaver type three-run home runs. Of course, it's a ludicrous scenario because 1) you humans have not yet perfected time travel and 2) the 1985 Cardinals would never happen in today's baseball environment, nobody would try to build a team like that today.]