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Freaky Fri-Joe Morgan Chat Day
2004-05-17 20:09
by Mike Carminati

Personality is the supreme realization of the innate idiosyncrasy of a living being. It is an act of high courage flung in the face of life, the absolute affirmation of all that constitutes the individual, the most successful adaptation to the universal conditions of existence coupled with the greatest possible freedom for self-determination.
—Carl Jung "Bong"

Personality is the glitter that sends your little gleam across the footlights and the orchestra pit into that big black space where the audience is.
—Mae "Bruce" West

Hey, you won't interfere with the basic rugged concept of me personality, will you madam?
— George "The Quiet One" Harrison being made up in A Hard Day's Night

The only idea more overused than serial killers is [swapping] personalit[ies]. On top of that, you explore the notion that cop and criminal are really two aspects of the same person. See every cop movie ever made for other examples of this.
—Charlie Kaufman "Stadium" in Adaptation (actually he referred to "multiple personality", but it applies to both)

Switch—Jimmy Smits.
—Odd ad campaign for the film Switch, in which Jimmy Smits name was blurted at the end of the trailer after the film's name for some odd reason.

Hollywood just loves swapping characters' personalities. Whether it's Rob Schneider becoming a "hot chick", a male chauvinist becoming Ellen Barkin (and thereby providing fodder for penile jokes for a good hour and a half), George Burns turning into an 18-year-old cigar-chomping, scenery chewer, or the two main female characters exchanging personalities in Mulholland Drive like Sneetches having stars alternatively stuck on or removed from thairs (and clearly, Laura Harring was the Star-Bellied Sneetch in the equation if you get my drift, because I sure don't). Then there was the brief period in the '80s, in which child/teenage TV stars were given film projects based on the same premise (Witness Fred Savage in Visa Versa and Kirk Cameron in Like Father Like Son).

As I remember it, this phenomenon started with a teenage Jodie Foster swapping personalities with her erstwhile mother, Barbara Harris. Both actresses deserved better. Foster was already a veteran of many years of acting starting with the tomboy/love interest on "The Courtship of (Mister) Eddie's Father" and had just been seen in Taxi Driver, released earlier that year. Harris was more famous as a stage actress, but she had just starred in Alfred Hitchcock's last film, the overlooked Family Plot.

Disney dusted off the old chestnut last year by trading down in acting chops but up in cup size by recasting the film with their latest ingenue, Lindsay Lohan, opposite Jamie Lee Curtis, who'll for obvious reasons always be remembered as Ophelia from Trading Places by me and anyone else who was a teenage boy in the early '80s. Everyone seemed to like the re-make better—I didn't see it. Given that Hollywood can't seem to come up with an original ideas—how many versions of the same thriller can Ashley Judd make anyway—, this sort of overused idea seems exciting and new. Come aboard: they're expecting you.

Even the glorious landscape of originality that is TV-dom was not safe from the scourge of personality swapping especially as shows ran out of other stupid ideas. I'm surprised that Jump The Shark doesn’t have a sub-category devoted to the issue, though admittedly it was never as prolific or pernicious as Ted McGinley.

Gilligan's Island had a special episode in which they left the island, at least temporarily, and traveled to some mad scientist's personal island (I think it was the same guy from The Munsters who created a dumber, if you can believe it, version of Herman Munster named Johan). The mad scientist proceeds to swap the cast's personalities. Ginger is inexplicably swapped with the scientist's Tor Johnson-esque henchman, an odd move given that he was the only means of controlling the crew and Ginger was the hot chippy on the show (therefore, the joke). Then again who knows what the whacked-out scientist was into anyway. The episode ended with the Gilligan 7 returned to normal and the scientist and the henchman being swapped with a dog and a cat. And hilarity ensued. In an odd plot twist, the crew had to return to their island due to some screw-up by Gilligan.

The venerable Flintstones even succumbed to the flimsy plot device. Fred has a bowling accident or rather his skull has one. Barney takes him to Dr. Len Frankenstone who ends up swapping his personality with everyone else on the show, just so that we get to witness Fred bark like Dino.

There was even a low-budget kids sitcom in the Seventies named "Big John, Little John", starring the Brady Bunch's cousin Oliver, Robbie Rist, and some nondescript fatherly figure, who I always thought was MacLean Stevenson, but I am gratified to realize was not (as if "Hello, Larry" weren't bad enough). One would become the other and visa versa at the most inopportune moments.

OK, so you are no doubt wondering what this has to do with Joe Morgan's weekly chat session. Well, I'm convinced, and I needed the documented proof, that ESPN is using the same kind of personality swapping with their online personalities or lack thereof. This week's experiment was evidently Joe Morgan and Rob Neyer, judging from their chats. There's also a trace of Jayson Stark's essence—maybe the remnants of his dearly department 'stache—in Neyer's message. So without further ado…

The Good

Mike ( Albany NY): Hey Joe, I believe Clemens will come back for another year. Your thoughts on that. Thanks

Well, Roger Clemens wants to get through this year first. I don't think it's a cut and dry decision and I don't think his mind has been made yet. It's a long season and injuries have a way of popping up for older players. ...

[Mike: Right, we didn't even know he was coming back this year. Very logical.]

Peter (Alpharetta, Ga): What is wrong with Andruw Jones' swing this year? Has he bulked up too much where it has hurt him? Will he ever hit .300 with 40 homeruns and 125 RBI's or will he just go down as a great defensive centerfielder. Also, he looks very lazy on the field and never runs a ground ball out or hustles. Your Thoughts?

I can't answer any of those questions b/c I don't really know if he got bigger. All I know is that he will go down as more than just a defensive centerfielder. He's been here a long time, but he's still a very young player. When I talked to him down in Florida this year, I thought he had a great attitude and his approach to the game. He impressed me. I don't know too much about him, I only get to talk to him every so often, but I really like the way he comes at the game.

[Mike: Sure, he's not Willie Mays but he's one heck of a player.]

PJ (Newark): Recently on Baseball Tonight, John Kruk said that if he needed to start a team today, he would draft Michael Young out of all eligible major league players. Do you agree with this assessment?

He is a very fine player, I enjoy watching him play. Kruk is entitled to his opinion, but I think mine would be someone else. A-Rod is one. There are probably a lot of players that I would choose before Michael Young, and that's not to say I dislike Michael, b/c I love the way he plays the game, but I wouldn't choose him No. 1 overall, no.

[Mike: Kruk is undoubtedly the worst thing to ever happen to BT. He was one of my favorite players on and off the field with his down-home Will Rogers-esque hokum. Now he's an overbearing bore who jams half-baked ideas down the audience's throat. I couldn't stand Bobby Valentine as a manger but thought he was great on and for BT. He seemed to bring out the best in Harold Reynolds. Reynolds has now lowered himself to Kruk's level. And then there's Gammons, who's unfortunately Gammons. The show's just about unwatchable. Kruk brings a certain PTI spirit to BT, which is the last thing it needed.

All that is to say that Morgan responds appropriately when it comes to Michael Young. That Kruk would select Young speaks volumes of his analytical skills.

Morgan selects a logical if very popular choice. He also answers the question directly, further proof that he's not himself.]

Jamie Hoffman, St. Pual MN: Joe Mauer is one of the best young talents that I have seen. He has a smooth swing and a mind for the game. Can you see him, blossoming into one of the great catchers on both sides of the plate?

I don't see how you can say all those things yet, he's been injured, he has potential, but it's his first year and he's been on the DL for the majority of the time. I"ve heard great things about this kid, but he has a lot to prove, yet.

[Mike: Right you are, Joe. This guy must argue on for Lyman Bostock as the greatest ballplayer of all time. Let the guy establish himself as a major-leaguer and we'll take it from there.

But Joe, you really don't seem yourself.]

Haines (DC): Who has been your most suprising team this year?

Proabably the Texas Rangers. They've been better than I anticipated and players like Young and Soriano have blended together, they have a great chemistry and a successful ball club.

[Mike: "Haines"? You don't say "Haines" until I say you say "Haines".

OK, I created a table with the winning percentage differences from last year to this:

TmPCT Diff

Texas is fourth, but given the loss of A-Rod and the attendant expectations for the team, I'll give it to Joe.]

Nick (memphis): How impressed are you with what Carlos Zambrano is doing right now for the Cubs? Thanks

Everyone said before Clement was on the staff that Zambrano had the best stuff but it was just a matter of him trying to control his emotions. I think he will continue to get a lott better. He'll be one of the great pitchers in the league.

[Mike: It's not like Zambrano came out of nowhere. He's been a very good pitcher for two years and was just 22 when the season started. His numbers (esp. ERA and K/9 IP) have jumped this year, but some of that may be explained by normal maturation.]

Ned(Los Angeles): Who will acquire Carlos Beltran before the trade deadline? (Yanks, Red Sox,Dodgers, Padres,White Sox, Angels?)

I can't answer that. I don't know what KC is looking for in return. It will be a tough trade for the Royals. Everyone knows he's going to leave, the question is, will he sign a new contract? Most teams won't give you a lot for 6 months, not know whether or not he'll stay.

[Mike: Ned? Is that Ned Nederlander as in Little Neddy Needles?

Sheez, it's already a foregone conclusion that he'll be traded. How the Royals have fallen.]

Fawaz (T.O): What do you think of the idea that Alou should put Bonds in the lead-off spot? Would this help in that an IBB would put a man on with no outs?

I don't think this would help. Your best hitter should hit third. It gets him 40 or 50 more at bats than you'd have a slot down. I think Barry is in the right spot though.

[Mike: I'm going to agree with Joe here. I know there are studies that show that your best hitter should bat second, but in this area I'm still a neo-Luddite.

Besides maybe the Giants' best bet is to camp their next best hitter, Marquis Grissom, behind Bonds, basically swapping their current spots in the lineup. And then put Feliz, their third best hitter, behind Grissom in his current #5 spot.

Oh, and as for Joe's "40 or 50 more at bats", that's a bit high. The number three spot for all teams average 636.4 at-bats (and 729.4 plate appearances) last year per team. Number 4, 620.2 at-bats (712.2 PA). That's only 16.2 at-bats (and 17.2 PA) and that's for the entire team.]

Chris (OR): Joe...what the heck is wrong with Albert Pujols? Thank you.

I don't think anything is wrong with him. People forget how awesome he was last year. That was one of those carreer years that you only have maybe once in your carreer. YOu can't do that consistantly. You just can't. But I think he is one of the greatest players in the league right now. Don't count him out. He'll still put up big numbers. The season is far from over.

[Mike: Joe's right. I'm not even going to quibble about having career years more than once in a career. OK, he had an incredible year last year, but he's no slouch this year either. He has a .925 OPS, is slugging .549, and has a .376 on-base percentage. He has 9 roundtrippers, more than twice as many walks as strikeouts (23 to 9), 12 doubles (which project to 51), and has scored 33 runs (tied for the league lead). Sure, he is batting just .278 and his OPS is just 41st in the majors. But it's still mid-May.]

Kfields (Pittsburgh, PA): I understand the frustration with walking Barry. But shouldn't a manager do whatever necessary to win the game?

Well, there are two ways to look at a sporting event. Part of it is entertainment -- if every player was walked intentionally or every batter struck out, I don't think the game would be very popular. It IS the managers job to try and win games, and he is supposed to do what is necessary. But, there is still a decorum of traditional entertainment value of the game and managers have to take that into consideration. ... Even though Barry is one of th greatest hitters of our time, there are situations where he goes into slumps, like the one he is in right now. He is human, he makes mistakes and you have to pitch to him. I don't think there should be any rule changes or adjustments.

[Mike: Joe's doing so well that I'm going to choose to ignore the "entertainment" digression. Why amend the rule for one player? Besides the strategy worked for the Phillies three times in their series against the Giants. However, the Reds lost by the strategy (they walked Bonds to lead off the 10th) just a few games before.

Besides, it's not as if the number of intentional walks being given out has gone through the roof (aside from the ones to Bonds). Ignoring Bonds' numbers, the average player drew an intentional pass only .67% percent of the time last year or once in each 149 plate appearances. For the average player that's about 3 or 4 per season. It's also much lower than the all-time average (.80%). The all-time high was in 1967 (1.06%) when batting averages were so low that it didn't hurt that much to give someone a free pass.

Here are the decadal averages since they started recording IBBs in 1955:


You'll note that the number of intentional walks has been dropping steadily since the '70s. So why change the rule? Because we have the odd occurrence of have the sabermetrically minded and the traditionalists agree on something. The SABR-heads hate the idea of giving someone a free pass and the traditionalists feel that walking Bonds is not aesthetically pleasing. (I happen to fall into both camps, a dangerous mix admittedly.)

Many get way too keyed up because of this issue. I agree with Joe's even-handed approach and, therefore, am convinced that someone has taken over his body.]

The Bad

Peter (Alpharetta, Ga): Now that the dust has settled a little bit on this hot topic ... What was your thought of MLB canceling the Spider Man Ads on the bases and all this advertising in Baseball? Dont we see enough of this on billboards, tv, and the Jumbo-trons all around major league parks? Your Thoughts Joe?

I'm not a big fan of anything that intrudes on the traditions of the game with the exception of trying to do things for charity. I think all charitable endeavors are worth us all taking a step forward and trying to help. If it's just for the sake of making money -- I don't buy it. If it can do something to help somebody -- I'm all for it.

[Mike: Joe, you coming out of it. Your look of lucidity proves it. What does charity have to do with Spidey-Gate? You're avoiding questions. It's got to be Joe.]

Tony (Danbury, CT): I am struggling to think of another complete infield in recent history that looks so impressive at such a young age as the one in Texas does. Teixeira, Young, Soriano and Blaylock. Ages 24,27,28,23 years old. Do you think Texas will be able to keep thiem togehter for awhile????

I think if you could spend $25 million on one guy, I think you have enough money to hold these guys together. So the answer is yes, I think. But I can't spend somebody else's money.

Read my column on the Rangers from two weeks ago if you are really interested in that. I get into in a little more.

[Mike: Well, the Dodgers in the early '70s come to mind. And the 199-95 Indians weren't bad (when Thome played third).

As far as holding on to these guys, the each have at least three years before free agency and Texas should now have a bit of cash.

Plugging his old articles instead of answering a question fully, boy, it sounds more and more like Joe all the time.]

Cory Garron, Nova Scotia, Canada: Since I was born in 1980, I unfortunately never go to see you or the Big Red Machine play, and I never got to see one of those "pancake" catchers mitts you spoke of in your article. I assume it was kind of like taking 2 catchers mitts, one left handed, one right handed, and attaching them at the top of each glove. I was wondering what was the atvantage of those "pancake" gloves, or why where they originally used? p.s. The article about Bench and Pudge was my 2nd favourite article to the one you did about Ricky Henderson a couple years back. :)

The gloves were more flat b/c they had so much padding in them to cushion the pitch. Everything went right into the middle of them. The gloes that we have now, the one handed catchers gloves, the ball never hits over the catchers hand, it goes in the pocket. The old ones needed all that padding b/c the pitch was coming in right on the palm of his hand.

[Mike: ATFQ! Gotta be Joe.

It wasn't necessarily the advantage of the old glove but rather the disadvantage of continuing to use them. The advantages were that they protected the catcher and the ball, helping prevent the ball from getting away from the catcher. The disadvantage was that it was hard to get the ball out of the glove, which became an issue in the Eighties when people actually stole bases.]

Ed (Edison, NJ): Do you think players that hit with a defensive over-shift on them (e.g., Jason Giambi) should adjust themselves to take advantage of the opennings? And if they were to work on it (hitting to the opposite field) how long would you think that it would take to make this adjustment?

I believe everyone that hits into an overshift, there are times when they should go the other way depending on the score of the game. If they could do this, they'll avoid the shift. Hitters can really do some damage if they could do this. The problem is, most hitters have their swings locked in, and to be honest with you, they are stubborn, but if they wanted to change, I think they could. Most guys just will not go the other way. I think it's more of a pride thing.

[Mike: Wrong, Joe. And you're becoming more Joe-like (jovial?) all the time. Ted Williams devotes a few pages to this in The Science of Hitting. He practiced hitting to the hole in the shift but just couldn’t do it at first. He described it as pushing the ball to the left almost like "hitting pepper".]

Nick (Westchester): Shouldn't the San Francisco Giants be a negative story in the sense that they have the best player in the game at a bargain price, and just a dearth of talent everywhere else. It's not like this is a small market team either, they have a mid 80s payroll.

I don't think they are a very good team. True, they have the best offensive player in game, but the supporting cast is not as good as you might think. They have a lot of role players, no standouts. I guess it should be a negative story right now, but the season is not over. I think you have to wait, see what happens come playoff time. Where they are. Their starting pitching -- other than Schmidt and Williams -- is not good. Their bullpen is not good. They offense around Barry is not good. ...

[Mike: C'mon that's a bit facile, isn't it? Pierzynski was an All-Star two years ago and was considered a steal. Alfonzo, Tucker, Perez, Snow, and Durham were all considered stars at some point. They were somewhat overrated and have aged for the most part very badly.

They made some choices that look bad right now, but some of them helped them win the division last year and helped them make the playoffs three of the last four. All teams age. It's just too bad that it's happening during Bonds' apotheosis.]

Ryan (woodlands,Tx) : What do you think, Scutaro or Mclemore for the A's starting second baseman? Mark is obviously a proven veteran but he is old and there are some questions about his range on defense. Scutaro has been sharp both offensivley and defensivley but he has a low OBP (the A's philosophy) and is still learning certain aspects of the game.

I don't think there's any doubt that Scutaro would be the best defensively. The question is, do the As need a verteran presence and some leadership in that line up. That's for the management to weight and decide. But, it is clear that Scutaro is the sharpest defensively.

[Mike: Who cares about veteran presence? Can either of these guys hit a lick? They seem about even offensively, but Scutaro may improve since he's still young. McLemore is 39 and was a much better player up to a couple of years ago but seems to be fading fast. Add in the defense and there really is no choice.

Joe, what's happening. You're fading. Your face. You're turning into…Robbie Rist? Wait, no, it's Rob Neyer on a bad hair day.]

The Ugly

Mike (Houston, TX): Rob...always enjoy your columns. One thing that has surpised me this year is Jose Guillen's performance thus far. I thought 2003 was a fluke, but perhaps not? What do you think?

It's a funny thing. Early in his career, Guillen was often compared to Roberto Clemente, who didn't really establish himself as a good major league player until he was 26. Guillen, meanwhile, didn't have his first good season until he was 27. I'm not saying they're the same, but I won't be shocked if Guillen turns out to be pretty good.

[Mike: Joe-Rob, isn’t this just a case of a player having a career year at the magic number of 27 years of age and starting off the next year strong?

Besides, Clemente was a certifiable All-Star by age 25. Guillen had a flash in two-thirds of a season at a brand-new hitter's park after six seasons of never even coming near mediocrity (highest pre-2003 adjusted OPS was 88). He was just slightly above average (107 OPS+) in Oakland, and has just one month and change under his belt this year. Three of Clemente's five pre-All-Star seasons resulted in better park-adjusted OPSs than Guillen's best (88). And if their careers were so close, why isn’t Clemente one of Guillen's comps for similar batters through age 27.

I'm not saying that Guillen will be a bust. I have my doubts. But what I am saying is that some prima facie similarities to Clemente mean absolutely nothing.]

John D. (Chicago): Seeing has how Bonds wears more armor on his arm than a 13th Century knight and stands 6 inches from the plate, why don't more pitchers pitch inside to brush him back?

Because it's not a winning strategy. If you pitch inside and you miss one way you've got an HBP, miss the other way and you've got a home run. And the HBP might lead to a warning, limiting your ability to pitch inside to other hitters. MLB hasn't done enough to address the problem.

[Mike: John D.? Mike's brother?

Joe-Rob, just enforce the batter's box. Who wants umps policing body army and verifying doctor's notes? That's what MLB needs to do.

As far as not pitching inside, that's what got us in this mess we're in today. Pitchers retreated outside, batters erased the batter's box and stood closer to the plate, and then umps flattened and widened the strike zone. So now we have body armor, pitchers afraid to pitch inside, and batters who charge the mound on high middle-of-the-plate fastballs.]

Duffman (Springfield): Why would they change the intentional walk rule for one player? Wouldn't getting players on base ahead of Barry solve the 'problem'?

First, they're not going to change any rules. And second, if it did happen it wouldn't be for one player, it would be for millions of fans. Does it really serve the sport to have Bonds -- or any other exciting player -- essentially eliminated from the action? I think the intentional walk should have been outlawed a long, long time ago.

[Mike: Joe-Rob, see the numbers above. Is this really affecting "millions of fans"? As for Bonds -- or any other exciting player, let's not confuse the issue. This is all about Bonds. IBB-per-plate appearance rates are dropping throughout baseball except when Bonds is at the plate.

Also, ATFQ! Wouldn't getting players on base ahead of Barry solve the 'problem'? No, getting someone who can drive Bonds in would change it. Joe-Jayson documented (i.e., exploited Elias' data to prove) that Bonds gets walked more often with men on base.

How do you outlaw the intentional walk? The idea is ludicrous, but more on that later.]

Jay (Newingington, CT): Hey Rob, what's the point of eliminating intentional walks if you can just pitch around someone? Throw 4 balls in the dirt and you're golden? There doesn't seem to be a good solution for the Bond's dilemma. Thanx!

There are ways around that. In a particular situation -- the second time in the game, or when it's a particular hitter -- you could treat any four-pitch walk "intentional." Trust me, if we wanted to come up with something workable, we could.

[Mike: Newingington ? What was your town name chosen by Charlie Callas or something?

First, Jay, you can't through balls in the dirt because when you intentionally walk someone it's usually with men in scoring position and balls in the dirt lead to wild pitches.'

Second, Joe-Rob, the idea of treating any four-pitch walk as "intentional" is beyond laughable. There are four-pitch walks all the time. What, will they be outlawed or will the defense be doubly penalized or will it be left to the umps to divine the pitcher's intent in making a judgment? None of these choices is acceptable.

Besides what prevents someone from sneaking one strike in—on the outside corner after a high and tight pitch, say—and then intentionally walking the batter? Well, what if you preclude catchers from leaving the catcher's box to receive a pitch? You would eliminate pitchouts and increase wild pitches. How about hiring Kathy Bates to hobble all of the catchers? Hmm, that has promise.

Joe, something is happening again. I think that intentional walk talk is causing you to transmogrify again. Wait, you are turning into a prop comic, a guy uses stats like a baby treats a diaper, a guy who gets ducked by the everyone at Elias when his name comes up on the phone display. It's baseball's Carrot Top himself, Jayson Stark… ]

So is there anything baseball can do? Between our survey last year and our survey this year, we've gotten five suggestions that make any sense whatsoever:






[Mike: So, Joe-Jayson, now you're asking and answering the questions, huh? OK. Let's take 'em one at a time.

1. You suggested this as Joe-Rob. To quote Jack Black, "Next song! Next song!"

2. Again, the average player gets 3-4 a season. It's just the Bonds rule. What are we going to do if a pitcher intentionally walks Bonds a second time, make him waste a time out? "Next song!"

3. How about you make the pitcher spin the "Wheel of Gas"? How inelegant is this proposed rule? So an intentional walk could be more valuable than potentially an infield single? Yuck!

4. So now it counts more than a ground ball through the infield? Who's going to keep track of this tripe? How about a three-point line or an overtime loss counting for a point? This is baseball for crissake!

5. Again with the football analogies. Why compare baseball to an inferior sport? So you decline it and start where, at 3-and-0 or restart the entire count? What if he walks the batter again and again? Is there a penalty? Is it a safety?

Lordy Mama, play the blues.]

Matt ( Budd Lake, NJ): As a 2nd Baseman, what was your reaction to Posada getting hit in the face by that throw? Should the ball have been thrown over the top instead of being side-armed?

Posada was sliding way away from the bag at the fielder, the ONLY protection a fielder has is to make the runner go down. All runners know that you HAVE to get down. Posada didn't go down. WHo's to determine how a guy is supposed to throw to first base. You have to throw from where you received the toss. If you receive it low, you throw it from there. If you receive it high, you throw it from there. So, if there is a fault, Posada should have gotten down sooner.

[Mike: Joe, you're coming out of it. No one else could answer this question quite the same way. However…

Posada was a good ten feet from the bag. Why should he get down? And he was sliding away from the bag. He was maybe a foot or two to the right of the bag but he was within the baseline (according to rule 7.08). Besides, how could he be sliding toward the runner AND not getting down?

Besides, Amezaga received the ball high and could have thrown it however he liked but chose underarm. I'm not saying he intended to hurt Posada but made no effort to avoid him. And that wasn't too bright because it cost the Angels the double play.]

Dave (Dublin, Ireland): Hi, Joe. I caught the Cubs-Dodgers game that you covered a couple of days ago. The Alex Cora 18-pitch AB was pretty amazing; did you ever try to prolong an AB against a starting pitcher late in a game by fouling off as many pitches as you could, hoping that he would tire or give in and throw you something down the middle of the plate for you to hit?

I always went up there to try and get a base hit off every pitch I swung at. I don't think you can go up there with that notion in mind of prolonging the at-bat. That rare situation that happened the other night, was where Clement's pitches were moving just enough that Cora wasn't getting the whole ball, he wasn't up there trying to wear down the pitcher. But it shows good focus from both of those guys.

[Mike: Of course a batter's approach is different with two strikes than with one or none. A batter tries to get a hit on every swing but is also protecting the plate with two strikes. He’ll end up swinging at pitches that he might otherwise forego to avoid striking out. Those pitches are lower percentage ones but swinging at them is preferable to being called out on strikes. Of course, it was quite an accomplishment to avoid striking out by fouling off 15 pitches you can't do anything with and then getting a pitch that you can hit out of the park.

Wait, you demean a feat by a current player and you answer like someone who's never played the game. Joe, you're back!]

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