Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you're a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You'll call it a procedure, but it's a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn't matter because you can't hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering "how come the kids don't call?" By your eighties, you've had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can't stand but who you call mama. Any questions?
—Billy "61*" Crystal, "City Slickers"
I know we're all pretty small in the big scheme of things, and I suppose the most you can hope for is to make some kind of difference, but what kind of difference have I made? What in the world is better because of me?
—Jack Nicholson in "About Schmidt"
Today, I consider myself (consider myself) the luckiest chat session on the face of the earth (the earth). Two years ago I left Ohio with two very bad knees and a dream to lampoon Joe Morgan's chat sessions. I thank God the dream came true.
Boo hoo hoo hoo…
Ah, deep breath…I'm better now. Anyways, if you hadn't noticed, the other day ESPN moved Joe Morgan's chat along with a Vicente Padilla flotilla of content to its premium Insider service. That means that if you want to worship at the altar of Joe Morgan's intellect, you have to pony up forty smackers a year.
It’s another step in the inuring of America to pay for previously free content on ESPN.com while dumbing down the content that is provided. The last wave took Rob Neyer, the most readable of all the ESPN analysts—not that that is a major feat—, off the free side of ESPN, where he had been for years. I remember reading Neyer some six or seven years ago when he was basically a blogger, though they didn't call it that, at ESPN, I think, supposedly intended for fantasy baseball. Now, you have to pay to read Neyer. (As for me, I'd rather finish the book on pitchers that he co-penned with his mentor Bill James that I've had on my nightstand for months.)
It's all part of the shortsighted Disney moneygrab that has disserved them for some time but has been accelerated with all of the problems over the last year or so. First, Pixar, the group that produced most of the Disney hits over the last few years, announced that it was separating from the company after it fulfilled its contract. Disney CEO Michael Eisner and the Disney family started wrangling over control of the company. Next, Comcast stepped in and attempted a hostile takeover bid but finally relented. In March, a shareholder revolt forced Eisner to step down as the chairman of the board though he remained CEO. And finally Eisner announced just the other day that he was stepping down after his contract expires in 2006. It seems that as Disney the company has unraveled, their hunger for short-term cash flow has increased and spread throughout its empire, ergo the attempt to force its readers to pay the ESPN Insider fees.
Not only am I averse to paying money for basically anything, I am doubly confounded by the prospect that his chat is now no longer in the public domain. Should I reprint the content of his chat, I leave myself open to the animus of ESPN. The thought of my soldiering on leaving myself and my sitemates at A-B open to censure was cause for some consternation for them. After seeing the war that MLB brought to the fan sites in 2002, I don't blame them. I can't lampoon something without referencing it in some way and that would be referencing privileged info.
Morgan is probably pleased as punch since no one on the net can now point out the rampant illogic of his impromptu sessions. The Primates forewent it. I'm letting him slide. His chats will no longer be derided since hardly anyone will see them. It's like in the IT world when a network professional thinks the perfect network is one that doesn't get used and therefore, never breaks down.
Morgan can say that Dave Concepcion is the best man not in the Hall of Fame—he isn't. Morgan can say that Billy Beane wrote Moneyball—he didn't. Morgan can say that the A's live and die in the postseason by the three-run-homer sword even as he says that the perfect playoff team is in the Oakland model of two premier starters and a good closer. Better yet, Morgan can evade or ignore questions he doesn't like to pontificate about how the young whippersnappers today are inferior to the players in his day and especially the Randolph Scott-esque Big Red Machine.
No one will call him on it because no one can. Bloviate on, oh mighty warrior.
But I can't even blame Morgan. He just works for the intellectual sinkhole that is ESPN. This is a network that has been headed in the direction of PTI and Rome is Burning for some time. Even the once proud SportsCenter is turning more and more into a commercial for itself, the ESPYs, or ESPN in general. Baseball Tonight has dumbed down substantially with the ludicrously bad John Kruk replacing the surprisingly good Bobby Valentine. Meanwhile, the mercurial Harold Reynolds who seemed to improve having Bobby V as a partner has fallen off the charts by apparently trying to outdumb Kruk this season with a fair degree of success.
It’s even worse at ESPN.com where you can still read Peter Gammons' unedited, William Faulkner-esque prose at least for the time being but other than that it's a lot of AP stories. One would think that ESPN.com is making enough money off of the banner ads, popup ads that obscure the text of the articles, full-window ads that preceded the actual text, and ad nauseum ads scrolling by in ESPN "Motion". By next season, your local paper's site will have more content than what was once the best baseball site on the web, ESPN.com, and you won't have to wade through the embedded advertising to get to the scores.
As for Joe Morgan Chat Days, consider this homage your friggin' gold watch:
“Baseball’s Glad Lexicon”
These are the gladdest of possible words:
“Joe Morgan Chat Day today.”
Reductio ad absurdum, his facts fleetly blurred,
Joe Morgan Chat Day today.
Ruthlessly promulgating gonfalon babble,
Making a giant hit with the ole rabble—
His words numb your brain like a bad game of Scrabble: