The heaping together of paintings by Old Masters in museums is a catastrophe; likewise, a collection of a hundred Great Brains makes one big fathead.
—Carl "Don't Call Me Matt" Jung
Unemployment Office Clerk: Occupation?
Comicus: Stand up philosopher.
Comicus: Stand up philosopher. I coalesce the vapors of human existence into a viable and meaningful comprehension.
Clerk: Oh,a Bullshit artist.
—The great Mel "Hubie" Brooks' History of the World, Part One
Starting in the fifth century BC a group of teachers called Sophists who were weak on education and heavy on politics and fee-gathering—they were actually the first to accept payment for their wisdom—wondered Greece, taught rhetoric to would-be politicians, became celebrities, and hung out with Socrates and Euripides. They were sort of the political pundits of their time though they dabbled in philosophy since philosophers were the rock stars of their era. Witness So-crates in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure—"Much of the world looked like the cover of the Led Zeppelin album Houses of the Holy…It's was most Tranquil." I guess they were rat pack of their day with the emphasis on the Peter Lawford end of the spectrum.
One concept that was central to the sophists' pseudo-philosophy was not the search for truth, the muse of most philosophers of the day, but rather cognitive relativism. That is, the idea that truth is all relative, and not only is it open to interpretation but it allows even for spurious information. The sophists rather than being a school of philosophers were a class of professionals, who provided their pupils with their own brand of knowledge, like Oprah, Dr. Phil, or the Fox News Channel.
Not surprisingly, the Sophists were sought out by young would-be politicians seeking skills in persuading the masses through rhetoric. Sophists prided themselves in taking the worst option in a scenario and convincing their audience that it was the best. They taught convincingly that black was white and weren't you a ninny for thinking otherwise? They also taught that actual knowledge of the topic being discussed was not necessary. Just win the argument, baby! To that end, catching one's opponent in minor contradiction, confusing him with unrelated or false information, or even lowering oneself to verbal or physical abuse, so long as it won the argument, were all tools at a Sophist's disposal. They used metaphors and paradoxes that were inappropriate or misleading for the argument at hand and were just over-the-top smarmy, smug, and clever, which seemed to play well in the Peoria of the day.
The term Sophist was resurrected centuries later when it was applied to a class of eloquent professional orators. This dual role lives on in the legacy that they bequeathed to us. We are left with the word "sophistry", which means the "subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation" or "an argument apparently correct in form but actually invalid" (from Merriam-Webster online). But we also have "sophisticated" which "often implies refinement, urbanity, cleverness, and cultivation" though a loss of innocence or idealism is at its root.
Now, I am trying to avoid any parallels to things political, especially to any one party in particular, in this narrative even in this, an election year, no matter how apparent they might be, since I have raised the hackles of a few who would rather talk baseball (even as the country goes to heck in handbasket, whatever that means). Instead, let's apply the parallels aplenty to Joe Morgan and his last scatological chat.
Joe has gone over the edge. His elevator no longer goes to the top floor. He's non compus mentus. There's no other excuse for his latest spewings. Joe argues both ends of an argument against the middle in utter sophistry. I just hope that I can do him justice without having my head explode like that guy in Scanners. He blowed up real good! Well, at risk of personal injury, here we go:
Brian (Long Beach): Hi Joe -- I don't understand guys like Randy Johnson, Larry Walker, Charles Johnson, enforcing their no-trade clauses to remain on teams going nowhere. Don't they play this game to win? To win it all? Is moving teams that much of a deterrant to playing meaningful games?
Is that the only reason you play or do you play for the competition? If your theory is true, everyone should play for the Yankees. Randy thought he would finish his career in Arizona when he signed the contract. A couple years late they tell him maybe he should leave. He did not ask for a trade so we shouldn't be criticizing him. They asked him where he would want to go and he said the Yankees. You can't fault him for that. It was Arizona that changed their mind, not Randy.
[Mike: Way to support the players, Joe. Brian, how would you like it if you employer in Long Beach traded you to, say, Milwaukee, and oh, you start tomorrow. You work practically every day so you won't have much time to settle in. You can't meet you employers or colleagues beforehand. And you have no say in the matter.
And as far as the "If I made as much money as them, I wouldn't be a crybaby about it" argument, A) you will never be burdened with such a difficult decision since you will never command their salary, and B) they have the money AND the no-trade contract. That was something that was negotiated; otherwise, the salary could have been more. These players just want to stay with the horse that brought them. If they demanded a trade, they'd be criticized for that, too.]
Andrew (Tucson): Hey Joe, I know Nomar has been one of the top ballplayers since the mid-90's, but is he HOF material? Comparing the the big three shortstops: A-Rod, Jeter and Nomar; Jeter seems to be a lock as does A-Rod, but I'm not totally sold on Nomar. Is he more hype than reality due to playing in Boston for years?
You shouldn't be sold on any of the yet until they finish their career. I think you have to look at Nomar who has won a batting championship and his offense has been as good or better than Jeter. I think it's too early to say he is not a HOFer.
[Mike: Nomar owns an adjusted OPS 35% than the league average. Jeter, 22% better. Nomar is in just his 9th season and ten are required for Hall eligibility, so he's by no means a lock. Given a normal career path, they will both be Hall-of-Famers but let's let them finish up their careers before we vote.
If you had this argument re. Fred McGriff and Rafael Palmeiro eight years ago, who do you think would have won? McGriff, hands down. Today, the result would be completely different.]
Jake Fields (Los Angeles, CA): Joe, did the Mets make a mistake by trading their top prospects for guys like Victor Zambrano and Kris Benson? Or is it a plus for the Mets? I am a depressed Mets fan, how should I be feeling Joe about this??!!??
I can only give you my opinion and that's that I would not have made the trade.
[Mike: Right, and next time, Joe, no preamble is required. Of course, it's your opinion. There are no absolutes in trade evaluations, or at least they won't be for another 10-20 years.]
Mitch (Chicago, IL): In your recent column, you mentioned players get mentally down during the season. Sorry, but if I were making millions of dollars (thousands of dollar/plate appearance), there would be no way I'd be "mentally drowsy".
Well, if we are only going to decide on whether we get tired based on money, I'm not sure I see the correlation. When you are on the field, you aren't thinking about money. At least you shouldn't be. I'm not sure if you work 7 days a week or not, but no matter what you make, you would wear down at some point. Playing major league ball takes a toll on you mentally. Just the travel alone can wear you down.
[Mike: Again with the player bashing. Mitch, if you detest the players that much, then stop supporting the sport that pays them "millions of dollars (thousands of dollar/plate appearance)". It's entertainment. I'd rather pay money to see Barry Bonds perform than Julia Roberts. Guess who makes more money of the two.
Joe's right: the players are just human. I get tired after going away for the weekend.]
Juan (San Antonio): Hey Joe, I loved the episode of "Married...With Children" you did (where you kept referring to Al Bundy as "Al Birdie"). Anyway, did you have fun doing that spot? Also, how did you feel about the show parodying the 1994 baseball strike?
I loved doing the show. I wish I had a copy. I'm not sure what happened to mine. All the cast was great. I was there for almost a week and had a great time with all of them. I've done a few shows here and there but that was the most fun.
Kevin Maloney Yelm, WA: Ichiro is quietly putting together one of the best 2nd halfs in baseball histroy and is now a threat to break the single season hits record. I'm wondering how come no one is making a big deal out of this. The man went 3-6 yesterday and you don't even know that it happened. He is hitting .359 and nobody really knows. So are poeple gonna catch on?
Ichiro has always been one of my favorite players so I've noticed. But Seattle is 40-68 and that is why no one is noticing. What he is doing is not turning the team's situation around. He is just a great player.
[Mike: Ichiro is batting .474 since the break with a .496 OPS, 1.065 OPS in 116 ABs and has five stolen bases to two times caught stealing. The batting average is tremendous but he has had very little power and is too impatient to talk a BB. Therefore, his numbers look good but once the hacked singles stop dropping, so will his ratios. Witness the poor second-half splits over his career. His career second-half average is 52 points lower than in the first half. When Ichiro can keep it up for an entire season or learns to broaden his game, I'll be impressed.]
Eric, Freehold NJ: Joe, Do you think that an asterisk should be placed next to a player's record who has tested positive for steroids?
[Mike: Eric from Freehold? Didn't I see you in Federici's last week?
Anyway, Joe doesn't want to smear a player by placing an asterisk next to his name in the record books. Great. So why has he been trying to get the Hall of Fame board to ban them?]
Craig (Tucson, AZ): Hi Joe love your work. Hey I've heard of guys like Terry Pendleton moving up in the batters box when facing sinker-ball pitchers in order to get to the ball before it breaks. Why don't more guys move up in the batter's box on Mariano Rivera? Seems like that would be the perfect way to guard against that quick cutter.
Moving up on Rivera would not work. His cut fastball sinks right over the plate. You should move up on sinker, curve ball and change up. You cant move up on a cutter because it just cuts too late. People have tried everything against Rivera's cutter but he is just the best at what he does. You have to hope he makes a mistake.
[Mike: So how about moving back in the box? The batter's box is basically obliterated after the leadoff hitter has his hacks anyway.]
Rob (chicago): With the ChiSox getting Roberto Alomar, is that really going to help them. Do you think that they can still make a push for the Division?
He can't hurt! He knows how to play and has been on winning teams before. He brings experience and knowledge. But they did the same thing last year and then let him go. I think his winning attitude will certainly help.
[Mike: Yeah, it sure helped the Mets. Getting Alomar is déjà vu all over again for the Pale Hose. Between Juan Uribe and Willie Harris, the Sox had second base pretty well covered. Their OPS at second base (.768) is fifth in the AL, not great but not bad either. It just seemed like a move for the sake of making a move. Sure, the Sox were 45-34 after getting Alomar last year, but he had very little to do with it (.253/.330/.340/.670 in 253 at-bats). Don't be fooled by his D-Backs stats: Almoar is a very different player than he was three years ago.]
Craig: London, England: Joe: Long time fan of yours. Regarding Barry Bonds, do you think his OBP over the last 3.5 years is even more impressive than his career HR totals?
Offhand, I would say no. The HRs create his on-base percentage because he gets walked so much. They go hand in hand. As a player you think OBP is more important but they do go hand in hand. He wouldn't be getting walked so much without those HRs.
[Mike: To quote Hugh Grant in About a Boy, "London, England, the World, the Universe."
Joe, how can you not be more impressed by the OBPs? Three in the top 10 all-time, including the single-season record (.582 in 2002). And now he is looking to obliterate that with the first qualifying .600 OBP on record, oh my god! Yes, 73 home runs are quite impressive, but his other season totals have not been as impressive. That is mostly due to pitches avoiding throwing strikes to him which results in more walks and therefore, a higher OBP. The amazing story of Bonds over the last few years is told in his record-setting OBP.]
Eric Belin, New Orleans: Can the Rangers win the AL West on the back of their bullpen?
At the beginning of the season I thought the Angels were the best in the West. But they don't have the same confidence now. The As have been impressive of late. It's somebody different everyday getting it done. You have to like Oakland right now. I think they will win the division. It should be a good race though. I'm proud of what Texas has done because they really picked themselves up after A-Rod and have played great ball.
[Mike: Joe, ATFQ! Can the Rangers win the AL West on the back of their bullpen? No, their pen is very important, but really when they are used less than half the innings, don't you think offense and starting pitching are inhrently more important?
The team has a collective .697 OPS so far in the second half (221/.292/.405). Since the break, Young has a .690 OPS, Blalock has a .508 OPS and is batting .161. Meanwhile, their opponents are batting .288 and have an OPS 100 points higher than the Rangers.
The Rangers starting rotation is reeling in the second half. Kenny Rogers has an ERA (6.21) that is exactly two runs higher than in the first half and has gone from a 12-3 to a 1-2 record. Ryan Drese has been great (4-1 2.61), but no one else has been on the rotation consistently. Their pen has been good, but how much can it do?]
Jeff (Cleveland): I read the recent articles on ESPN.com regarding the umpiring. Do you feel the umpires have become to "visible" during the games, or is this more a factor of an increase in complaining by the players and managers. Also, what is the accountablility for umpires. The other night in the Indians game v. the Blue Jays, an umpire called a ball that was clearly a strike. Are they reprimanded for costing a team the game with a bad call? Thanks!
I don't think you can ever lump all umpires together. Some are more confrontational than others and some are more visible. I have a problem with umps at times but other times I think they are doing a great job. It's a tough profession so that's just natural. It's not easy to be an umpire.
[Mike: These sorts of things are cyclical. The umps got uppity when they were headed by Richie Phillips, but after his disastrous downfall, they were quite humbled and seemed happy just to have the job (actually some didn't for a while). Now, the pendulum has swung back. They are sick of being stuck between the players and QuesTec. The commissioner's office, having gotten rid of the league presidents, now oversees them. Expect them to keep the umps in line. All umps are graded by their performance including calling balls and strikes by the way.]
Samar (Philadelphia PA): Page 2 has a list of songs PA announcers play for current players before at bats. What would your song be?
You know what, I think I would use Start It Up.
[Mike: A Tribe Called QuestA Tribe Called Quest, eh? I would've thought you'd like "Da Booty" from them, but then again, what do I know?
My song would be an old Dead Kennedys number called "Too Drunk to…"—Never mind.]
Dave (Houston): Good morning Joe, what exacly is wrong with marlins this year??? the major injury they have is the josh beckett and they only lost urbina and putde to free agency. they still have most of the team from last year. it looks like they wont even be in the playoffs this year?? whats your thought on the fish??
I guess you need to look a little closer. They lost Ivan Rodriguez, a leader, they lost Lee who was a big RBI guy, they lost Encarnacion who drove in 90 runs. Their problem has been scoring runs.
[Mike: Even when Joe's right, he's wrong. Yes, the Marlins are way down in runs scored. They are twelve in the NL in runs scored this year. They were an unspectacular eighth in 2003. They were tied for tenth in ERA last year; this year they are 11th. Not great, but at least consistent.
Joe rightly points to the void at catcher when Pudge left or rather was forced to leave Florida. But they don't miss him as a leader. They miss his bat. Florida catchers produced an .808 OPS last year; this year they are almost 200 points below that at .618.
Without Lee the OPS for Marlin first basemen dropped slightly from .867 to .807. But you can’t blame the his replacement Choi. Compare their numbers: Lee .271/.379/.508/.887 and Choi .270/.388/.495/.883. They are remarkable similar. Blame the Marlin bench. Consider that the Marlin pinch-hitters batted .250 with a .704 OPS last year and are batting .167 with a .529(!) OPS this year.
As for Encarnacion, he's back, Joe. And he was the one Marlin last year who really deserved to go this year. Marlin right fielders had a .748 OPS last year and with the Miguel Cabrera upgrade this year, they have registered a .897 OPS this year.
The problem with the Marlins is that they just weren't all that good last year. They were good enough to sneak into the playoffs and had a balanced enough team that good hot for the playoffs. They have gotten slightly worse this year in enough positions and fell off the face of the earth. Last year, they beat their opponents in OPS in seven out of eight positions in the batting order (all but #2); that is, take the Marlins cumulative number 5 batter and compare their stats against the cumulative opponents' #5. This year they win just four out of eight and the bottom of the order is killing them (they lose at 2, 5, 7, and 8).]
Mark, CT: Mr. Morgan: Thanks for considering this question. As your Reds teams were one of the all-time greats, do you (and your former teammates) ever feel regret about not having won more World Series titles? Are there certain years you look back on as years you perhaps should have won?
You always wish you would have won more. But it's hard to regret winning two when guys like Ernie Banks never won any. There are many guys in the HOF who never won. So yes, I think we were good enough to win more but two is pretty good. I'm happy.
I would have been very disappointed with just one. We were the best team for a long time and we lost two and won two. To win just one would have been very disappointing.
Correction, with the Reds I won 2 out of 3 .. lost one with Philadelphia.
[Mike: So two are OK, but one would suck. Who doesn't believe that if Joe won three, that would be OK and two would suck.
As for We were the best team for a long time, Joe joined the Reds in 1972. They lost the World Series that year to a pretty good team, the A's. The Reds were two games better than the A's but one game worse that the Pirates and three worse than the A's in Pythagorean record. In 1973, they were two games better than the O's and five better than the A's, but were considerably worse than both teams in Pythagorean record, and of course, lost to the pathetically mediocre Mets that year. In 1974, they were four games behind the Dodgers in the actual standings and 10 in the Pythagorean standings. They won in 1975 and '76. However, in '76 they led the Phils by just one game in the actual standings and trailed them by one in the Pythagorean standings. They finished second in 1977-78. In 1979, they again won the division, but were 8 games worse than the Pirates. And then Joe returned to the Astros.
To sum up, the Reds have a very good case that they were the best team in 1975 and 76, their two championship years. They have a decent argument in 1973 if you ignore the Pythagorean standings. That doesn’t really support the "best for a long time" argument, however.]
Charlie (Hickory, NC: Hey Joe, Can you tell what is wrong with Barry Zito? Where has the swagger gone? Thanks
Ray Fosse is the A's radio guy and a good friend of mine. His opinion is that he is making bad pitches with the fastball. He is getting it in the hitters zone instead of the pitchers zone. He looks good but he's just making mistakes. I've seen him hanging the curveball of late. Pitch location is the problem right now.
[Mike: It's great that a baseball analyst can't formulate his own opinions but rather has to co-opt someone else's. Can't he analyze Zito's swagger.
Zito's problems actually go back two years. Last year, his stats look good on the service (14-12, 3.30 ERA), but if you dig deeper, you'll find that his strikeout ratio fell considerably from 7.14 to 5.67 per nine innings. His strikeout to walk ratio fell from 2.33 to 1.66. His ratios have actually improved this year (6.49 and 1.78) though they are still not great. His problem is that he is giving up an ungodly number of hits now. Last year his WHIP was his usual low (1.18) even with the extra walks, but this year it's an uncharacteristic 1.52.
So Zito's problems started when Peterson was still around. And aren't so straight forward. I think that batters stopped swinging at the big curve altogether because they realized that it was completely unhittable. The strikeouts dropped and the walks went up slightly. He then tried to force the change and fastball in more, neither of which is nearly as impressive as his curveball and are considerably less effective if the curveball isn't getting men out. He hangs a few curveballs or can't place the slow fastball, and then he gives up homers and hits aplenty. I, also, think that's why he's been wildly streaky this year. Witness his monthly ERAs: 6.83 in April, 3.18 in May, 3.65 in June, 5.97 in July, and 5.40 in one August start.]
Rick(Pierre): During the last game of the '76 season, Ken Griffy Sr. was 3 points ahead of Bill Matlock for the batting crown. Rumor is that you suggested that he sit during the game (which eventually lost him the batting title). Any truth to that?
That is correct. Matlock sat on Saturday and didn't play in hopes that Griffey would go 0-4 and he did. I suggested he not play on Saturday since Matlock wasn't playing. I felt if Matlock wasn't playing then he shouldn't play. Griffey played a lot more games that season than Matlock. But then I felt he should have played the last day!
That's one of the things that bothers me still. Griffey deserved to be the batting champ that year. I wish I would have exerted more energy to get him to sit that Saturday that Matlock didn't play.
[Mike: Boy, that's a great story. It would be even better if there were a shred of truth to it. First, it was "Madlock" as in Bill Madlock, not "Matlock" as in John Matlack.
Second, Madlock didn't miss any time in the final weekend. He did take a week off after getting mugged September 24 and suffering a concussion. He was ahead of Griffey .336 to .332 at the time. When he returned October 1, he was behind .339 to .336.
On Friday, October 1, Madlock went 1-for-4 againts the Expos to drop to .335. Griffey stayed at .339 with a 1-for-3 day agiants Dick Ruthven and the Braves. Griffey 4 points ahead.
Madlock not only played Saturday (October 2), he went 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI against Dan Warthen and the 'Spos, dropping to .333. Madlock started the game at third and batted his usual third. Joe is talking out of some orifice other than his mouth when he says otherwise. Meanwhile, Griffey similarly went 0-for-3 with a walk as Phil Niekro shut out the Reds, not 0-4 as Joe reported. He dropped to .338. Griffey was now five points ahead.
On the final day of the season (Sunday, October 3), Griffey did sit with the five-point lead, but was enlisted as a pinch-hitter and right fielder in the 11-1 pasting. He struck out both times up and ended up the season at .336. Meanwhile, Madlock went 4-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, raising his average to .339, as the Cubs beat the Expos 8-2. Had Griffey sat out the entire game, he still would have lost (.339 to .338).
I'm actually curious as to why Griffey entered the game at all. He pinch-hit for Driessen with Rose at first and no outs in the seventh. The Reds were leading 3-0 at the time. Frank LaCorte, the starter, was still in. He was a right-hander. Driessen was a left-handed batter as was Griffey. Rose scored on a Perez triple after Griffey struck out. The Reds led 4-0 in a meaningless game. Griffey stayed in the game in right field, bumping Ed Armbrister to left to replace Driessen. The Reds had regular left fielder George Foster on the bench still. He would be used in the bottom of the ninth to pinch-hit for Joe Morgan himself. Morgan had entered the game earlier that inning as a pinch-runner for Mike Lum, but the Reds batted around scoring 7 runs in the inning and when Joe's spot was due up Foster went in. Foster then played center field in the ninth and caught two balls in the inning.
The Reds game took 2:33 and was played in Cincinnati. The Pirates were in Montreal and their game took 1:57. Both cities are in the Eastern time zone. Let's assume Madlock got his fourth hit in the sixth, passing Griffey. Rob Sperring then pinch-hit for Madlock in the eighth and replaced him at third base.
Now, let's break this down by at-bat. When the day started Griffey led Madlock .3375 to .33333. After Madlock singled (on a bunt) in the first, Madlock trailed by three points at .335 (actually .334637965). Madlock singled again in the third and trailed by two points (actually, Griffey led by .0012
Points, .3375 to .3359375, but runded it was two points). When Madlock singled in the fourth to go 3-for-3, he tied Griffey .337. Actually, Griffey still led by the slimmest of margins, 0.33750 to.33723.
It's difficult to say when Griffey got into the game. Was it at this point or after Madlock collected his last hit? Either way, Griffey had sat out the day thinking he had the batting title won. It wasn't until losing the title became a real possibility that he entered the game. Meanwhile, Madlock bunted his first time up with men on first and second and none out to get an infield single. I don't know if Mad Dog meant to sacrifice himself or was trying to get a hit. It seems odd to sacrifice in the first with no outs, but they did that back then. Had Madlock sacrificed and then gone 3-for-3 and Griffey had sat out the game, he would have lost the title by .000268.
By the way, Griffey played 148 games (including the cameo in the final game) and Madlock, 142. I wouldn't call 6 games a lot more.
Both Griffey and Madlock sat out part of the final game after they thought they had the title sewn up. Griffey miscalculated clearly, but if Madlock left prior to Griffey's final at-bat (keep in mind he was the sixth batter due up in the 8th with a 4-0 Red lead), then he misjudged as well. But to say that "Griffey deserved to be the batting champ that year", you either have to have absolutely no credibility or be on drugs or both. I can't say which applies to Joe, but he screwed up every detail except that he was teammates with Ken Griffey at the time. Good job, Joe!]
Elaine (San Diego): So Joe, you are admitting that you were concerned about an individual record instead of what was good for the team? Wow.
We had already won the championship. We had cinched the division and were getting ready for the playoffs. I took that Sat. off as well so we would be fresh for the playoffs.
[Mike: Hey, empty titles don't bother Joe even if he has to create a slew of lies that would make Karl Rove blush to posthumously give the title to his friend.]
Dennis, Santa Clarita, CA: Well, the Dodgers "chemistry" seems to be in tact after the trade (5-1) and now starting to put some distance between themselves and San Francisco (who seem to be in real trouble) and San Diego. D you still think the trade was ultimately bad or could we see the return of Dodgers-Yankees in the series?
I never said the trade was bad. I thought they were a better team before the trade than after. They got some good players but I just thought they were a better team before. We'll have to wait and see but I still feel the same way. I"m not hung up on chemistry as much as leadership.
[Mike: I know that this is an election year Joe, but what the hex does that doublespeak mean? It wasn't a bad trade but they were worse afterward, huh? There's nothing positive in what you've said about it. For crissake, the article you wrote about it was titled, "Low Trade Grade for LA". What am I missing? Pure sophistry, through and through.
And as far as your not being "hung up on chemistry as much as leadership", for the record here's what you said about the trade:
"I was surprised at the moves made by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their trades were the most questionable. I don't think the Dodgers are a better team today than they were before the deadline…Many observers are questioning how the Dodgers' chemistry will be affected now that the team leader, catcher Paul Lo Duca, has been dealt away… I spoke with some of the San Francisco Giants players after the trades, and they're happy with LA's moves… DePodesta's deals are a calculated risk, because they disturb something that was going well. "
You mentioned chemistry not leadership in the article. More sophistry. By the way the Dodgers are 7-3 since the trade. They were 2-1/2 games ahead when the trade was made and are now 6-1/2 ahead.]
Joel Rivera Moca Puerto Rico: Do u think Roberto Alomar is has three or four years to play?
I can't make that judgement, it's up to the player to decide that. One of the most difficult things to do is decide when enough is enough. Players make so much more money now and it's hard to walk away from that. I'm not sure what his thought is on that right now. But he's been a great player for a long time.
[Mike: It all depends on how desperate teams are for once-great second basemen. It most certainly is not "up to the player to decide that." Not when said player has had as many bad years (two) in a row as Alomar has at his age (36).]
Humor In Multiform: The Hall of Fame
Joe, Maryland: Do you consider Rafael Palmerio a HOFer? Also Do think 550 homers is the new 500?
500 is 500. No matter what we say about it being easier, it's still not easy. You have to be really consistent to hit 500 HRs. I try to avoid the HOF question when I guy is still playing. I am Vice Chairman of the Board so I try not to give my opinion too often. Other than Maury Wills, who should already be in the Hall. He has left the Writers's Ballot and is on the Veteran's Ballot so I can talk about him.
[Mike: Do think 550 homers is the new 500? No, but green is the new pink.
Anyway, I've finally discovered why Joe cannot answer a straight question: I am Vice Chairman of the Board so I try not to give my opinion too often. That's rich. I'm going to use it. Everyone try it at your place of work:
"Johnson, the generator is going to blow! What do you think we should do?"
"Well, as the chairman of the board, I try not to give my opinion too often. Aaaaaagghh!"
And Maury Wills is the new Dave Concepcion. I guess the opinion poll on Concepcion wasn't very favorable so now Joe is mentioning Wills whenever the topic of the Hall arises. There are literally dozens of better candidates for the Hall than Wills (I covered this last time). I'm not even sure if he's better than Concepcion.]
Tony (Macon): Do you think Leo Mazzone deserves to get in the Hall of Fame?
That's an interesting question. Coaches don't get much consideration. I don't get to vote for the HOF, that's writers. Leo, as I said a lot of times, is the best pitching coach I've ever had the chance to sit and talk with. He's proven it time and time again. But I'm not sure how much weight he carries with the writers.
I try not to comment on the players because if I say one guy belongs people think that means another guy doesn't. And that's not what I'm saying.
[Mike: I don't get to vote for the HOF, that's writers . What?!? Joe, you are, as you often remind us the vice chairman of the board at Cooperstown, and you don’t know the voting rules?!? The baseball writers don't vote for non-players. The vets do, and you yourself voted in the last go-round using a veterans committee ballot with many non-players on it.]
Humor In Multiform: The Postseason
John (Cubs): With the Cubs getting Nomar, what do you think their chances are to make it to the post season? If so, can they make the World Series?
Anyone that makes the postseason can make it to the WS, you just have to get hot at the right time in the short series. Getting to the playoffs is the priority. With that staff, assuming they are all healthy, can go far. Nomar is important because they need offense. But it's still about the health of Sammy and those pitchers.
[Mike: Ok, Remember what Joe said: Anyone that makes the postseason can make it to the WS, you just have to get hot at the right time in the short series.
(Oh, and Sosa is still a great player but aren't Nomar, Ramirez, Lee, and even Todd Walker more important to the offense this year?). But to quote Nigel Tufnel, "That's nitpicking, isn’t it?"]
Chris, NY: Joe - Should the Yankees be concerned come October about starting pitching?
Yes, because the Yankees won championships with dominant pitching and good offense and defense. Their pitching is not as dominant, the offense isn't quite as good, etc. They don't have guys like Clemens, Pettitte, that dominant guy.
[Mike: OK, here's what Joe had to say about Torre last week:
I would never, and I mean never, question Torre's handling of his team. He knows them better than I do. He has won four championships so it's hard to question him.
The Yankees have had plenty of injuries to their staff this year. But if they have Kevin Brown, Mike Mussina, and Javier Vazquez healthy, they are OK. By the way, their offense is third in runs in the league and second in OPS. And that's without Jason Giambi most of the year.
But, OK, their pitching is just sixth in ERA in the AL. But didn't Joe just say, "Anyone that makes the postseason can make it to the WS..."?
Wait, he contradicts himself again…]
Matt (Houston): If the Cubs make it in the post season, do they become the instant favorites regardless of the Cardinals record? To me, the Cardinals mirror the 116 win Mariners in which it looks like they were built for the long haul and not a short series, whereas the Cubs look like the opposite.
That is some kind of philosophy that has come up lately, being built for the long haul. I'm not sure I understand that. If you have dominant pitching in a short series you will be successful. But if you don't have that it doesn't mean you can't win. The Angels did it.
Many people said the Yankees were built for the postseason because of their No. 1 and 2 pitchers and Rivera in the bullpen. But the Marlins won it without have a really dominant guy during the season. There isn't any perfect scenario for postseason. Ideally you want to have two dominant starters like the D-Backs had and a good closer. That is a great situation but you can still win without it.
[Mike: So now he says that if you don't have dominant pitching "it doesn't mean you can't win." But didn’t he just say that the Yankees have to be concerned because of their pitching?
[T]he Marlins won it without have a really dominant guy during the season? Josh Beckett had a 3.04 ERA in 24 starts and struck out 152 in 142 innings. That's pretty dominant.
Joe finally admits, "There isn't any perfect scenario for postseason." That's the intelligent thing he said on the topic in three entries.]
Humor In Multiform: Joe and Billy, Billy Beane, Billy Beane. They got a thing goin' on…
Roger: Why do you dislike and misrepresent Billy Beane so often?
I don't dislike Billy. He wrote his thoughts, not me, in that book. My only thought on the A's is they have never won anything other than the division. They have lost five years now in the first round. That is my only concern.
[Mike: Anyone reading this should know that a) Billy Beane did not write Moneyball. Michael Lewis did. And b) Joe Morgan had accused Beane of writing it on numerous occasions last year. That would constitute a misrepresntation.
Also, the A's have lost four, not five, times in a row in the first round. How many times has Bobby Cox lost in the first round, and he's your idol. Cox has lost in the first round for the past four straight seasons and eight times in total with the Braves and Jays.]
Jimmy (West Allis, WI): Joe- Billy Beane did NOT write his thoughts in any book. He did not write Moneyball! He cannot be responsible for Michael Lewis (the author) and what he writes. I bet over the years your thoughts and quotes haven't always been presented by writers exactly as you've wanted. Please reconsider your response about Billy Beane.
First of all, the quotes in there were of Billy Beane talking to other GMs with Lewis in the room. That is a baseball no-no. I talked to some of the GMs he talked to and they didn't know Lewis was in the room. I don't have a problem with Billy it's just my philosophy differs. We are on opposite ends but that doesn't mean I don't like him. I said you can't win the postseason unless you can manufacture runs. You can't wait for the 3-run homer. The teams that have won like the Angels, Yankees, D-Backs, Marlins, they are all as I described. They can steal bases, bunt guys over, hit and run, do something to create runs. Billy's philosphy is to not bunt, not steal, all those things. We just differ. I don't have anything against him though. I just don't think his way works. If Billy's way turns out to win the next couple WS's, then that would be great. Tony La Russa told me the other day that nothing has changed in this game in over 100 years. He's right. That just doesn't seem to be Billy's philosophy. He obviously doesn't agree with me, does that mean he doesn't like me?
[Mike: Note how Joe simply glosses over the question avoiding the fact that Beane "did not write Moneyball!" by bringing up an unrelated topic, that he allowed sacrosanct quotes from other GMs to be heard by the distinctly non-GM-ish ears of Michael Lewis. Egads! Pure sophistry. Joe even gives a clue with, "[I]t's just my philosophy differs." He's laughing at us, isn't he? Curse you, Joe Morgan!
Going back to our postseason discussion, Joe now adds this gem, his fourth contradictory postseason aphorism, to the mix, "[Y]ou can't win the postseason unless you can manufacture runs." It's Billy Beane defense. He uses it like kryptonite to thwart Beane at every turn. Of course, you can't get shut out and win in the postseason, but what happened to his ideal of two dominant starters and a closer? Isn't that what the A's having been doing aplenty? So what else is there but Beane, who Joe clearly does not respect, if he doesn't dislike, to set the A's apart?
But he'll let Billy Beane off the hook if the A's win the next couple of World Series. How magnanimous!
And then there's this: Tony La Russa told me the other day that nothing has changed in this game in over 100 years. What is he talking about?!? In 1904, there were eight teams and no divisions in each league. There was no wild card, interleague baseball nor DH. Attendance was under 10,000 per game. A trip to Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis and Cincinnati was a road trip into the west. The mound was 15 inches high. Pitchers could throw all sorts of spit and scuff balls. Baseballs did not yet have a cork in them. There was no sac fly rule. Interference was only called on catchers. The strike zone was much bigger. Fielders left their gloves on the field when they were at bat. Triple- and Double-A did not exist. And batters did not wear helmets.
In 1904 Harry Lumley led the NL in homers with nine and Kid Gleason led the NL with 35 sacrifice bunts. In the AL Harry Davis (10) and Fielder Jones (36) led in those categories. Christy Mathewson started 46 games to lead the NL; Jack Chesbro led the AL with 51. He also led the majors with 48 complete games. There were 12 saves awarded in the AL posthumously in 1904. The league leader had 3. Iron Joe McGinnity led the NL with 35 wins AND 5 saves. He also led with 408 innings pitched. Chesbro tops that with 454.2.]
In closing, I just want to say again that I have nothing against Billy Beane personally. I've never disliked anyone ... well, I take that back, one of my managers with the Astros I disliked .. but I can disagree without disliking someone. I will continue to disagree with his philosophy until he wins more than 1 championship and shows that there is a new way of winning championships. I would build a team differently than Billy. That's all.
[Mike: Well, it's easy to disagree with someone's philosophy when you espouse four or five contradictory believes at the same time.
So again, Joe won't respect Beane until he has as many rings as Joe: 2 championships. Of course, building a contender with considerably less money then the Red Sox and the Yankees in one of the tougher divisions in baseball and staying a contender for five years earns Beane no points with Joe.
Joe ends on a deliciously ironic note: I would build a team differently than Billy. That's all. That's great! We all know Joe would build a team on chemistry, leadership, truth, justice, and the American way.
By the way, his Houston Astros managers were: Bill Virdon, Harry Craft (technically they were the Colt .45s), Lum Harris, Grady Hatton, and Harry "The Hat" Walker. I wonder which one he hated.]
Humor In Multiform: Epliogue (A Quinn Martin Production)
Laura, Mineola NY: Joe, as always you are my baseball idol. Your color commentary on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball is excellent. But I'm curious, could you ever see yourself doing the play-by-play? Is it more difficult or not as fun? And why is it that a lot of play-by-play guys are people who never played professionally? Just wondering...thanks!
I did play by play for the GiantsVision for about five years. I enjoy being an analyst more than play by play. You get a chance to see more as an analyst and try to help bring the fans closer to the game.
[Mike: Oh my, Socrates was poisoned for corrupting the youth far less than Joe's analysis does. Bring those fans closer to the game. Closer! Closer! "Any closer and I'd be in back of you." (Groucho Marx).