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Keep Your Joe Morgan Chat Day Job
2004-04-26 13:48
by Mike Carminati

Hey, Ernie, you want a job?

—Tony Montana in Scarface to a former opponent's henchman right after obliterating the opponent's leadership, staring directly into Ernie's sweat-streaked face, and milking a pregnant pause (After which Ernie responds, "Sure, Tony," in relief. Then Montana sidekick Chi-Chi jokingly responds, "You got a job, mang," and Ernie takes a big swig of alcohol with his hand visibly shaking).

Indifference, to me, is the epitome of evil.

— Elie "Walt" Wiesel

It means nothing to me. I have no opinion about it, and I don’t care.

—Pablo "Torrealba" Picasso, who according to Jonathan Richman was never called an A-hole, on the first moon-landing.

Diane Chambers: Everyone knows that hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is.

Sam Malone: Well, whatever you say. I really don't care.


A few years back Mystery Science Theater 3000, a show that would play old movies (or "experiments") and riff on them continuously, while recovering from a particularly nasty experiment, ran a segment that they called "They Just Didn't Care", meaning the makers of the film. Exhibit A in their declension was the title of the film, "The Attack of the The Eye Creatures"—that's right, with two "the". They didn't even bother to get the title right. They then pointed to zippers visible on monster costumes, some creatures supposedly covered head to toe in eyeballs wearing lycra body suits and sneakers, night scenes shot in bright daylight, successive scenes alternating between darkness and daylight even though they are supposed to occur at approximately the same time, a man inexplicably wearing a night-dress, and military men using their equipment to peep at teenagers necking at the local lovers' lane.

This past week, Blender magazine named its fifty worst songs of all time. At the top of the list was "We Built This City on Rock and Roll" by Jefferson Airplane cum Jefferson Starship cum Starship, a group created by a lawsuit by former member Paul Kantner over the name "Jefferson" (he and George and Weezie are still wrangling over that one. Blender calls it "the truly horrible sound of a band taking the corporate dollar while sneering at those who take the corporate dollar." However, singer Grace Slick (whom a burnout I knew in high school referred to as Grey Slick on one graffiti-riddled textbook) remembered the song fondly:

"This is not me," when the magazine reminds her of the tune. "Now you're an actor. It's the same as Meryl Streep playing Joan of Arc."

Meryl Streep played Joan of Arc?

She continued, "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"

Germans? Forget it. She's on a roll.

Obviously, Ms. Slick was applying heaping tons of sublimation along with her daily doses of illegal substances. Clearly she just didn't care.

And yet again you ask what the hex this has to do with Joe Morgan. Well, I have attributed many personality flaws to Morgan in trying to explain how a man who was so SABR-ific as a player (e.g., he always had a terrific OBP) could be so SABR poor as an analyst (e.g., he eschews OBP as a valid stat by which to evaluate players). I've explained this by accusing Morgan of being baseball's Andy Kaufman playing a joke on the entire world by his mere existence, of experimenting with his audience by exposing them to all sorts of gibberish, and worse things that I dare not repeat here.

However, I now at long last get Joe Morgan. He just doesn't care. And I hope to use exhibits from his last chat session to demonstrate his indifference towards us, the baseball audience. Order in the court. The first exhibit is that the chat session is cut short so that some upstart named Rob Neyer can hold his chat. Talk about not caring! Your honor, I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…

The Good—Caring Means Sharing

brendan (erskine MN): hey joe i was wondering if you have any tips on how to get rid of an uppercut in a swing if you can help me that would be great thanx

Well, I think the only way to get rid of it is to try and rotate your body (your hips and your weight) to your front side. Almost like a golf swing. This makes your swing more level. Staying on your back leg promotes and uppercut. You must shift it forward.

[Mike: Your honor, he cares if he gets a technical question.]

Randy (Houston): Hi Joe, you were always one of my favorite players, and are now my favorite broadcast guy. Wanted to ask a question regarding the Astros. Is it time to send Tim Redding down to New Orleans and get Carlos Hernandez back in Houston? Redding has great stuff but seems to lack the mentality to win.

I always liked Hernandez, personally, but I still think it's too early to give up on a guy at this point in the season. As long as they maintain contact with the Cubs -- which I think they have -- I think they'll be OK allowing him some time to see if he can become the star that they hope he can be. For now, I just think it's a little too early.

[Mike: Ah yes, if you butter him up, he cares. Of course, it's too early to write someone off, especially when he showed some promise last year (3.68 ERA in 33 games/32 starts).]

Jason (Utah): Several ESPN columnists are saying Bonds will hit .400 this season. Don't we all need to take a deep breath and evaluate where he's at in, say, July, and then make brash predicitions?

Well, I don't know if it's a lot of columnist, I heard Harold Reynolds make that prediction, but he backed it up by saying that he walked so much that he only has about 300 ABs and therefore, would need only 120 hits. I don't believe anyone will ever hit .400 again b/c of the specialization of pitchers. Now-a-days you face four good pitchers a game. I dont' think anyone could have a 56 game hitting streak or his .400 in today's baseball. But everybody is entitled to their own opinions.

[Mike: He cares if he can run down a modern player. Actually, I see the point of those opining that Bonds could hit .400. Given that he would qualify for the batting title with the lowest at-bat total probably on record, Bonds or anyone for that matter could hit .400 in the relatively small sample size. However, given that every pitching staff is keying on Bonds like no other individual, it seems unlikely that in reality he would be able to take advantage of the benefits of the smaller sample size.]

The Bad—Much like Phil Collins, Joe don't care anymore (Consider Sussudio)

Brent Seaborn (Alexandria, VA): Hi Joe! Do you have any predictions for the Yankees/Red Sox series this weekend? Thanks!

Well, I think after watching the games between NY and Boston last week, it proves the point I made earlier this morning. I think the Red Sox have the edge with their starting pitching. But, since the games are in NY, it wil even things out. But -- Boston has proven they can play well in New York. There is going to be a lot of pressure on A-Rod and Sheff from the Yankee faithful to deliver in a huge series. It should be an exciting series as always!

[Mike: Cover all those bases, Joe. I'm still not sold on the Red Sox rotation nor am I willing to throw in the towel on the Yankee rotation. The Red Sox certainly are playing much better than the Yankees right now. We'll have to see how the season plays out. It's unfortunate that these two series had to be played while New York was at seemingly their nadir for the season though.]

BoSox Fan, Beantown: I hear some talk about the Big Unit heading to the Big Apple this summer. Could "Theo and the Trio" pry him away from the desert to join schilling in breaking an 86 year old curse?

I haven't heard anything about Randy Johnson being traded, BUT, if the D'Backs aren't playing well they will cut their payroll and he does carry the biggest price tag. SO, it wouldn't surprise me if, after the first half of the seaon they aren't playing too well, they may have to move him. I'm not sure where he'll end up but he could certainly be dealt.

[Mike: Joe, ATFQ ("Answer the F'ing Question"). Could he go to Boston? Sure. Arizona is playing poorly and Johnson is 40 and has two years at $16 M due to him. Boston has been a player of late, but the Yankees, Phils, and potentially the Dodgers could be interested. They say his fastball has lost some speed but he is still averaging 11 K per nine innings.

By the way, the only 86-year-old curse in Boston is "Yankees suck!"]

Matt Baltimore,md: Joe, What do you think about the O's this year?? somemany people are focused on the Yanks and Sox, but it's the O's who are in first place in the AL East. Can they continue this trend through out the season?

I did the opening game of the season in Baltimore, I said at that time I really liked all the changes they've made with Tejada and Javy and Palmiero. I am very impressed with the Orioles, it's just a matter of how much pitching they get. IF they have the arms to keep them in the game, they will be in the race all year long. I definitely think they are a better team than Toronto.

[Mike: Just say "No", Joe. Let the guy down easy. If you cared, you would.

I still expect Toronto to pass Baltimore. Either way, they will have the worst rotation in the division and cannot expect to stick with the division elite (i.e., the Yankees and Sox) this year. ]

Doug Rhamy - Shreve, Ohio: Hi Joe, I was wondering what your take is on Ichiro these days. He is not stealing as much, or hitting at his usual rate for that matter. I know it's early, but we saw some of the same the second half last year. Do you think it's necessary for Seattle to get another bat for them to even have a chance in that division? Thanks.

I think Ichiro will be all right. I think everybody is pitching him a lot tougher now than when he first came over. They have made adjustments to his hitting style. BUT I do think Seattle needs another bat. Edgar Martinez is not as dominant as he was before.

[Mike: True, Joe, Ichiro will be "all right" but not in the way you meant it. I see him falling from superstar to marginal player in the next couple of years as he loses his speed and his skills give in to his limitations (inability to take a walk, lack of power, and extreme streakiness). He's 30. His numbers have been in decline in each successive season. He had a horrific second-half last year ) as is his wont (1st half: .352 BA, .390 OBP, .476 Slug, and .866.OPS. 2nd half: .259, .301, .383, .684). His numbers this April have been similarly poor. One point in his favor is that he had a poor April last year, too. He seems to be a May to July player, which does not bode well.

As far as Martinez not being as dominant: A) He's 41 and has a .310 BA, a .395 on-base percentage, and an .860 OPS. Yes, the home runs are down, but he's far from a drain on the lineup. Suzuki, Winn, Aurilia, and Boone have been though and John Olerud is showing his age much more than Martinez.

That said, I don't know if it's necessary for Seattle to get another bat. If they believe in the players they have. Their team ERA of 5.43 may be more of a concern. As is the fact that they have one starter with an ERA under 5.19.]

Ryan(Rochester, NY): Do you think the Marlins have enough to go wire to wire and repeat? It's starting to look that way.

Well, they proved last year, not just by winning the Wold Series but just by their performance in the second half of the season that they have what it takes. When young players with ability have confidence, the sky is the limit. That said, nothing surprises me that they are doing so well. I am surprised that the Phillies haven't challenged them more, however.

[Mike: Joe, they were the wild card last year after all. Do they have what it takes? It depends if all of the young players that are playing so well (Choi, Cabrera, and Willis in particular) can keep it up all season long. Willis was a pretty poor pitcher in the second half last year. Choi and Cabrera are playing tremendously better than last year. They could be maturing or they could be playing over their heads. Who knows? However, vets like Armando Benitez and Carl Pavano have a track record that demonstrates they are over-achieving.

The Marlins are playing over their heads right now. Can they keep it up? Maybe. They won't sustain a staff ERA of 2.81 though, And they are just 7-6 when not playing the Phils, who they have crushed. The Marlins could go wire-to-wire, but I think the odds are a bit long.]

The Ugly—Or as ex-Boston Bruin Vladimir Ruzicka said when asked about then first-time Cy Young award winner Tom Glavine practicing with his team, "No know, no care."

Jack: Did you see the toronto-boston game yesterday? There was no one in the stands! It's a disgrace! They had a huge victory and no one was left in the stadium to see it. What's wrong here Joe?!!

Well, the attendance has been suffering for the last couple of year from a time when they were chasing a world series and selling out games. Unless they are in contention and winning games, I expect this poor trend will continue -- especially during hockey season.

[Mike: That's a bit harsh, and incorrect. Toronto did draw just 16,480 fans to that game. They are 25th in the majors in average attendance this year (21,314 per game).

However, when you get swept in the opening series by a team that was historically bad last year (the Tigers), it doesn't bring out the fans, especially after 10 years of mediocrity. And to be fair, the Toronto fans supported the Jays after the dynasty years. They had the best attendance in the AL from the moment they moved into Skydome in 1989 through 1994. They were 55-60, 3rd in the AL East, in 1994. They were 3rd in attendance with a 56-88 record and 5th place finish in the AL East in 1995. From 1996 to 1999 they never finished above 3rd and never won more than 88 games, and yet drew at least two million fans (and ranked between 5th and 8th in the AL in attendance). They have finished third the last four years and won between 78 and 86 games, but have fallen to either tenth or eleventh in attendance. They seem to be suffering the most from the Yankee-Red Sox wars over the last 6-7 years.

And as far as the end of hockey season helping, the Flyers will soon end the Maple Leafs' season, so we shall soon see.

Marconi plays the mamba…]

Dave (Albany, NY): Good morning Joe--thanks for your time. I was wondering what your take on the multitude of injuries and guys (seemingly) spending more time on the DL now then as recently as 10 or 15 years ago. Why don't as many guys play hurt anymore? They're getting paid good money to sit around and nurse a hangnail?!?! Please. It didn't seem to affect the Gehrig's and Mays' of the past--and they weren't paid nearly as well. Thanks!

Yes Dave, this has been a trend. I think part of it is becuase the players make so much money that the ownerships are afraid of injuries may sideline them for a year or more so they are more cautious with them. Ownership allows the players to be more careful with their bodies to prevent this.

[Mike: One Joe Morgan #5 Special, players today are worse, weaker, etc. than in the past.

"Dave, I can feel it…I can feel it…I can feel my mind going." (HAL 2000 in "2001")

First, it's a good thing that teams are taking pitch counts seriously and are more protective of their investments. Second, has anyone noticed that there are players performing well at a very late age? E.g. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Jamie Moyer, and Edgar Martinez. Third, Dave made some unfortunate picks. Mays never broke 150 games and was decidedly an inferior player over his last seven years. Lou Gehrig was permanently out of the game at 35.

…listen to the radio…]

Kevin (Mesa, AZ): Joe, good morning... Do you think that's an adjustment period going on with A-rod and Sheffield, being in NY now? They only have like 3 HR's between the two. I don't know if the Boss is going to tolerate for much longer, before he goes public about his frustrattions. What do you think?

For Sheff, there is a slight adjustment in going from the NL to the AL. For A-Rod, it's even bigger tyring to deal with all the publicity and hoopla and press. Yes, it is a transitory period, but both of them are such great talents that I see them each having tremendous seasons before it's all over.

[Mike: [A]ll the publicity and hoopla and press .Right, because no one knew who A-Rod was before he came to New York. It's not like he was a lightning rod for every Joe Lunchpail to vent his spleen (which is dangerous indeed).

Besides, Sheffield and Rodriguez are not doing that badly offensively. Both have their OPS's in the .770 range. That's not setting the world ablaze but it's competent. The problems with the Yankee offense are with Jeter and his .250 OBP and .455 OPS at the top of the order, Bernie Williams' .496 OPS, and Enrique Wilson's .396 OPS(!). Jeter should rebound and is getting over an injury. Wilson is just a bad player. Replacing him should be a top priority. At 35 Williams may be nearing the end of the line. He did miss training camp and still may be recuperating from the injury. Either way, maybe giving 27-year-old rookie Bubba Crosby a little more time or looking outside the system may make sense.

By the way, I think Joe meant a "transitional" period. Though "transitory" could make sense.

…don't you remember?]

Scott, Davenport, IA: Do you think the Cubs stand a chance without Mark Prior and how important is a quality pitcher these days?

They have a chance without him, but they are going to have to get a lot more production from Greg Maddux than they are getting. If Prior was who he was last year, I think the Cubs would win by a few games. Without him, I think it will go right down to the wire.

[Mike: And if a butterfly in Skokie flutters his wings, then the Cubs will win by 10 games. Look, the Pythagorean Formula can’t predict that well. It should be a good pennant race, but who knows.

If Prior was who he was last year: Is Joe hinting at something? Have the Astros abducted the real Mark Prior but no one in baseball is allowed to talk about it? If not, I think he's the same guy.

Also, I would think they need production from Prior's replacement, Sergio Mitre, not Maddux, who already had a job before Prior's injury.

…We built this city…]

Steve, Manchster, NH: Joe, Is this finally the year where the Red Sox are just plain better than the Yanks?

I thought before the Yankees acquired A-Rod that this might be the case. I think the board is even now, but starting pitchers with Shilling added in Boston, I'd give the Sox the edge, but it's not big enough that you can purchace your World Series tickets yet.

[Mike: Better how? Better one or better two? "My team can beat up your team, na, na, na na na!"

I would agree with Joe, the board is even, that is if we were playing checkers, which we're not. Who's the better team? How do you quantify that? Oh, wait, there's that new method. It's called, hm, let me see, oh yeah, wins and losses. The team that wins the division will be the "better" team. Trust me.

Now Joe's answer is waffling of the highest degree. The Sox had an edge. But the Yankees got A-Rod. So now it's equal. Except Schilling gives the Red Sox the edge, unless they don't have it. Then it's either even or the Yankees have the edge. And the Edge is a shaving cream. So the team with less facial hair will have the Edge. And I told two friends and so on and so on and so on…

…we built this city on rock and roll…

chris cartersville ga: hey joe the braves bullpen seems horrible do you think that they have to sure that up to have a chance at another division title?

I would never question the Braves. They've won 12 consecutive division titles. I trust their staff, they know what it takes to win and they've proven that point year in and year out. I'm going to leave it up to them.

[Mike: Hey, I didn't know that they named a town after the Eagles/Vikings receiver!

Follow Joe. Bow down to the Braves. They can do no wrong. They are perfect. "And put in your earplugs, put on your eyeshades You know where to put the cork."

…We built this city, we built this city on rock and roll…]

Robert, Evansville, Indiana: Hi Joe, the Reds are off to a good start so far. Do you think their starting rotation can hold up. If not, should they go after someone to bolster them for the long run?

Well, you can forget about them going after someone. They have proven that they are not going to spend any money on anything or anyone. THey'll have to do it with what they have, but I think they have a shot if they (Griffey) can stay healthy.

[Mike: Hey, I didn't know they named a town after the movie producer. The kid certainly does stay in the picture.

How many times does Joe have to repeat this tripe? It's just not true. The Reds acquired Aaron Harang and Todd Van Poppel last season and Ryan Dempster, Bruce Chen, Brian Moehler, and Shawn Estes. Yeah that's not the cream of the crop, but that may have to do more with the Reds' scouting talent than with their limited funds. Besides people will pay you to take a pitcher of their roster nowadays.

…Built this city, we built this city on rock and roll…

Indeed, words to live by.]

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