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A Joe Morgan Chat Day at the (Pennant) Races
2003-09-24 19:02
by Mike Carminati

Either he's dead or my watch has stopped.

-Groucho Marx as Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush taking a man's pulse in A Day at the Races

God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh

-"Shecky" Voltaire

I've finally figured Joe Morgan out-he's an absurdist of the highest degree in the vein of Groucho Marx. But first, for something completely different...We here at Mike's Baseball Rants-and by we I no longer mean the royal "we", nor Michelle Wie, bur rather I am acknowledging the fact that I had myself cloned now that I have two kids-, we love the Joe Morgan, but we love the Joe Morgan chat days even more. He was one of our favorite players and he, even though he tries to forget, was a member of the 1983 Wheeze Kid Phillies, the last remnants of the Phils "golden" age starting in the mid-Seventies, before they slunk back into the primordial slime from whence they came, like Godzilla at the end of each of his umpteen billion movies.

The 1976-83 Phillies were a Neanderthalic, still-born end to an evolution that was to bear no further progeny. Maybe that's why I'm sick of all the bellyaching by Red Sox fans. "Boo hoo, my team hasn't won a World Series since 1918", and not only do the sports media eat up this pap and even serve it up themselves in the form of the self-appointed Boston sports conscience, Jiminy Shaughnessy, but now HBO has given them their own hour-long documentary, dare I say sob-umentary, to pour out their whining ways. It had to be hosted by Ben "My team wicked sucks and I wicked can't act, but I'm a bazillionaire who bagged J-Lo" Affleck. Poor guy. "Well, my team's name is the Philadelphia Phillies and they have lived in a van down by the river for decades" (god bless Matt Foley a.k.a Chris Farley). The fan base is now inured to losing and teams peopled by the likes of Steve Jeltz. The even think that the merciful euthanasia of the Vet is an historic occasion (and are willing to pay the Phils $280 a pop for a pair of Vets Stadium seats). The Red Sox fans biggest problem is trying to differentiate between the Boston-only homonyms "beer" and "bear" at the ballpark-When you hear "Bear here" in Fenway, it's just a Swamp Yankee beer man; don't run for the exits-and trying to survive the wait at the "T" platform after the game ("Danger! Third rail!").

Sorry, I'm back now.

Morgan the analyst has had a career that belies the tenets that he played by. Morgan the player was a great on-base man. Morgan the analyst eschews on-base percentage preferring a little of the old HR-RBI-BA in-out in-out. Morgan the player won World Series with a great offensive team that had a relatively weak starting rotation that picked up cheap wins. Morgan the analyst evaluates pitchers based solely on wins.

...Or does he? Could it be that Morgan's entire analyst act has been completely tongue in cheek and it has just been beyond our ken all along? Are we afraid to laugh at the god-like Morgan when he says of Barry Bonds, " [I]f he doesn't expand his zone, he won't hit much at all in the playoffs"? Could it be that we just don't get it?

Well, of course not, but wouldn't the world be a better place if it were the case? And I'm all for improving the world through confabulation.

I also have to commend ESPN for adding time stamps to Joe's comments. It's like watching the hamster in his brain going around on the wheel. Wow, it's like the thrill of watching the seconds tick by as 24's Jack Bauer is tortured to death and back again while his daughter Kim is being ogled by a merely curious cougar as she stumbles into a trap from which even Helen Keller could have extricated herself.

So they're coming around the final turn and it's Joe Morgan Chat Day by a length. And at the finish it's, it's...Beetlebum!


(Duck Soup actually)

Marty (Nashville): Pitching or Hitting? Which will dominate the playoffs?

(10:30 AM ET ) It's going to be a little of both. Some teams will have some pitchers who can dominate but overall, other teams won't have that. You will see some high scoring games and some very low scoring games. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses that are pretty glaring.

[Mike: Pitching? Did they make the playoffs this year? What's their magic number anyway?

It sounds a pretty inane answer: it'll be the high-scoring of times. It'll be the low-scoring of times. But then again, ask a stupid question...]

Woman: Hold me closer...closer...closer.
Dr. Hackenbush: If I hold you any closer, I'll be in back of you.

John - Philly: If Thome gets the Phils to the playoffs, how much serious consideration will he get for MVP?

(10:32 AM ET ) I think he'll get a lot anyway because he has been phenomenal down the stretch. He has carried that team. But he is still playing for the Wild Card. You have Bonds and Sheffield with such great records and obviously Pujols. It's a difficult year for him to win but he should get some good support.

[Mike: "John - Philly"? I don't get these French names.

I think Thome will get 10% serious consideration, 40% not-so-serious consideration, and 50% fillers and byproducts. Thome's had a great year, but we are living in Barry's "world, chico, and everything in it" is his (to quote Tony Montana).]

Dr. Hackenbush: Oh, well, uh, to begin with I took four years at Vassar.
Mrs. Upjohn: Vassar? But that's a girls' college.
Dr. Hackenbush: I found that out the third year. I'd 've been there yet, but I went out for the swimming team.

Roberto Sanchez Okinawa Japan: What do you think about the Alex Rodriguez MVP controversy?

(10:36 AM ET ) I think ARod should always finish in the Top 5 MVP voting. Anytime a guy plays his position, the most difficult on the field, and puts up the numbers he puts up, plays everyday and plays Gold Glove caliber defense. What else do you have to do? It's not his fault that his team is not good. I'm not saying he should win but he should be in the running. The guys that will get serious considertion will not match his production so he should still be in the Top 4 or 5.

[Mike: Joe, your facade is cracking. I was just going to quote John Winger and say, "I think it sucks."-slightly less erudite a response. This is almost an enlightened statement by someone in the media proper. Too bad it's his last one.]

...To Nuts

Chicolini (Chico pretending to be a peanut vendor in Duck Soup): you!

Jeff (Tulsa, OK): Barry Larkin and the Reds could not come to terms on a contract for one more season. Do you think Larkin's presence in the clubhouse with a bunch of young players is worth a good-sized one-year deal? Is there another team out there who will want a 40-year-old shortstop with a recent history of injuries?

(10:34 AM ET ) Unfortunately there comes a time when a team and player has to seperate. Barry Larkin has been a great player in Cincinnati for a long time. But the last few years he just hasn't played much. I understand the Reds' side of things. From a player perspective, you want to leave on a better note. But I do think it's time for them to seperate.

[Mike: Oh, I thought Joe was talking about Matt-Ben and J-Lo. What is Morgan, Arnie Becker or something? Why is he emulating a guy who in Major League couldn't throw out Mike Lavalliere?

Barry Larkin is still the Reds' best bet at short in 2004, but he will be 40 in April and he is often injured. The young players they have used to fill in for him have not done the job. Larkin is a potential Hall of Famer who has played for the Reds his entire career. I think they could have allowed him to Ozzie his way off into the sunset. What, is he a bad influence on Junior? Sorry he's no Dave Concepcion, Joe.

He's not worth another $9 M, but given the P.R. nightmare season this has been in Cincinnati, one would think that the Reds brass would want to retain one of its most popular players.

As far as another team being interested in Larkin, d'ya ever hear of the Newark Bears?]

Dr. Hackenbush: She's so in love with me, she doesn't know anything. That's why she's in love with me.

Bill Jeffries Torrance, Ca.: Joe, What do you have planned for the off season?

(10:41 AM ET ) I relax as much as possible but also spend as much time as I can with the family. I go to Hawaii every year with a group of friends. I've been doing that for 27 years. We leave the day after Thanksgiving for 10 days and play golf.

[Mike: "Oh, isn't that special, Marjorie?"

"Oh, yah, that's sweet, Gwendoline. Check the TV paper, would you, dear?"

"Ooh, we only have an hour until Regis and that nice, sweet new girl come on. Let's watch the weather channel."

"Ooh, yah. Marjorie dear, can you turn it up?"

GBTFB-"Get Back To F'ing Baseball!"]

Mrs. Upjohn: [who has been instructed by Dr Hackenbush to wave her arms up and down, as part of a physical examination] How long do you want me to do this, Doctor?
Dr. Hackenbush: Just until you fly away.

mark (Durant, OK): Joe, is it possible that the Cubs would go to a three man rotation the last 6 games of the year, putting Clement in the bullpen to spell tired starters? I would hate to see Cruz or Estes on the mound for any remaining games.

(10:43 AM ET ) One of the reasons Dusty Baker is considered by me to be the best manager in the game is he knows his players and knows who can handle clutch situations. It's not as easy as just saying pitch Prior, Wood, Zambrano every game. I think will make the right decision. The Cubs are in a favorable position, They just have to play well and not mess it up. Houston will definately have problems. They still have the Giants for two more games.

[Mike: Oh, great and powerful Joe, please grant my wish. Is it possible for the Cubs to pitch Wood and Prior every day if they learn how to pitch with both arms a la Greg Harris?

Look, anything is possible. Does it make sense to go with a three-man rotation for the last two series of the year against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati? I think not. However, they could skip the number five man today (Estes this go-round) and go with Zambrano, whose regular turn would be today anyway. Clement could go tomorrow. The only problem is that both had nagging injuries. So, especially this time of year, the extra day off will help them immensely. The Cubs fate is now their own and if they can't handle these two Punch and Judy teams with Larry Biitner starting, they don't deserve to go to the postseason.]

Dr. Hackenbush: Emily, I have a confession to make. I really am a horse doctor. But marry me, and I'll never look at another horse.

Mark - DC: Who do you think is playing the best ball down the stretch in the AL? Who will be the toughest team to knock out of the playoffs?

(10:44 AM ET ) Easy. Minnesota. They've won 9 in a row. They have gone from 2.5 out to where they are now. leading by 5 games.

[Mike: With all due respect to the Twins, who certainly are very hot right now (10 in a row now), they are the third seed in the AL. And the AL Central is the weakest division in the AL. The Yankees have 10 games on Minnesota. Even with the Twins being so hot in September, they are only two games better than New York and the Red Sox over that period.

I'm not sure what they will do in the playoffs. But I wouldn't be shocked to see them fold in three to the Yankees.]

[Tony offers Dr. Hackenbush a hint book.]
Tony: One dollar and you'll remember me all your life.
Dr. Hackenbush: That's the most nauseating proposition I ever had.

John H.:(Crofton,MD):: I noticed that the Phillies and Marlins have very similar team pitching stats for this season. What differences do you see that will help decide this crucial series for the NL Wild Card.

(10:40 AM ET ) I think the Phillies have been pretty consistent as far as the starters go. The Marlins have good starters as well. But the Phillies pitchers at times have been a little more consistent. But the fact they will be on the road evens things out. I don't expect a sweep. It should go down to the last weekend of the season.

But, you have to give a little edge to the Marlins because Willis should be able to control Thome who is the man right now.

[Mike: Good call, Joe. Thome was 1-for-2 with a walk, a runs scored, and a run batted in yesterday against Willis.

Actually, overall their staffs are pretty close in ERA: Phils are sixth in the NL with a 3.97 mark and the Marlins' 4.04 is eighth. However, the Phils' staff has fallen apart in the second half. They have a 4.57 ERA (11th) and have only won one more game then they've lost in the second half. Florida's 3.78 second-half ERA is sixth in the NL (and they are 14 games over .500). The Phils starters have been bad in the second half: Duckworth 5.34 ERA, Wolf 5.42, and Myers 5.48. However, their bullpen stalwarts have been even worse: Silva 5.68, Williams 5.87, Wendell 6.00, and Joe Table 9.53. Meanwhile, the Marlins' only real pitching sore spots in the second half have been Dontrelle Willis (4-5 with a 4.91 ERA) and Braden Looper (6.59 ERA despite 11 saves), the two men who allowed Phillies rallies in the first game of the series.]

Whitmore: Just a minute, Mrs Upjohn. That looks like a horse pill to me.
Dr. Hackenbush: Oh, you've taken them before.
Whitmore: Are you sure, Doctor, you haven't made a mistake?
Dr. Hackenbush: You have nothing to worry about. The last patient I gave one of those to won the Kentucky Derby...

Dave (Chicago): Joe, in a short series will the Atlanta Braves fall short without a true ace. (Schmidt Prior etc)

(10:45 AM ET ) Well, a lot of teams do not have a true ace. I think this is the best prepared Braves team in a long time. They have good enough pitching with Maddux, Hampton, Ortiz and a more balanced offensive attack with Sheffield. I think they can win it all.

[Mike: Hold the phone. Did anyone notice the hoopla attending Greg Maddux's 15th victory. He was dubbed the greatest pitcher since Sliced Bread a.k.a., Cy Young for recording 15 or more wins in 16 consecutive seasons. Then there's Russ Ortiz who's 21-7, and Hampton has been OK. I know that their ERAs are in the high threes, but Hampton's second half ERA is 2.88 and Maddux's 3.00.

Joe's always praising the likes of Sidney Ponson for their experience, how about Maddux for goodness sake? Further proof that he is just joshing us.]

...Whitmore: May I examine this, please? Do you actually give those to your patients? Isn't it awfully large for a pill?
Dr. Hackenbush: Well, it was too small for a basketball, and I didn't know what to do with it. Say, you're awfully large for a pill yourself.

Jeff: Kansas City: Do you see the Royals being the next A's if they stay healthy?

(10:46 AM ET ) The Royals have done a great job. I give Tony Pena a tremendous amount of credit for what he has done. I'm not sure how they will stay together. We will have to wait to next year to see if they can be as good as they were this year.

[Mike: No, I don't think they are the next A's. I think they are the next 1998 San Diego Padres.

Have you seen their rotation this year? Big Three? They'd be happy with a big one. Darrell May has been their only consistent starter all year and he's 31. None of their young starters survived the year in the rotation.

The Royals do happen to have a nice core of young players in Beltran, Berroa, Ibanez, and Sweeney. However, Beltran may be gone next season, and there's not much else on the team (Ken Harvey?).

Besides, it's not like they had a plan like Bill Beane in Oakland. They just happened to get a decent group of good, young, cheap players. The rotation alone should tell you that the organization cannot evaluate young talent consistently.]

[After taking his watch from under Steinberg's gaze and tossing it in a wash basin]
Dr. Hackenbush: I'd rather have it rusty than missing.

Steve (Plattsburgh, New York): Joe, is there any reason to think the Red Sox bullpen is just good enough for the Red Sox to win a series with Oakland and beyond?

(10:47 AM ET ) Boston's chances of winning against Oakland will depend on their offense. I don't think the A's offense is a big a threat as people think. But the Red Sox will have to score on their starters. I don't think Oakland is as good heading into the playoffs as they were last year.

[Mike: "[I]s there any reason to think the Red Sox bullpen is just good enough...?" No, there's not. The Red Sox were feted on ESPN for picking up at the trade deadline relievers who were superior to the Yankees' acquisitions. Since their acquisitions, Scott Sauerbeck has a 6.75 ERA and Scott Williamson a 7.00 ERA. The Red Sox bullpen has been awful all year. The bullpen ERA has been just a hair under 5.00 all year (second to last in the AL). Only Kim and Timlin can be relied upon. Adding tail-end starters Burkett and Suppan to the pen for the postseason shouldn't help either. The A's only have a .660 OPS against the Sox in their seven games this year, but one would have to think that Oakland's offense, which is admitted mediocre (exaggerated by their park), could improve on that in the postseason. As far as 2003's version of tha A's not being "as good heading into the playoffs as they were last year", they were 18-8 in September last year. They are 14-8 this year. Take your pick. ]

Tony: Have you got a woman in here?
Dr. Hackenbush: If I haven't, I've wasted 30 minutes of valuable time.

Jeff (Cleveland, Oh): What is missing from Houston that holds them back from getting both into the playoffs and through the first round.

(10:48 AM ET ) Oswalt was out for awhile but has been pitchign well since he came back. If he can hold up that will be huge for them. I'm not sure if they are good defensively as you would like. But I don't really see any one thing holding them back. It's just a matter of how well they play.

[Mike: Intagibles, it's gotta be. Look, the Astros are 14-8 in September. It's just that the Cubs are 16-6. It's not like this is Seattle we are talking about.]

Flo: Why, I've never been so insulted in my life!
[Hackenbush looks at his watch.]
Dr. Hackenbush: Well, it's early yet.

Blake, Minneapolis MN: Do the Twins have the starting rotation and enough offensive firepower to oust the Yankees in the Division Series?

(10:50 AM ET ) Anybody that has to go through NY will have a tough time. The fact still remains that the Twins have some starters who have been through this before. They sort of ran out of gas last year but that shouldn't be a problem this year. Once you get to the playoffs, ANYBODY can win 3 out of 5 or 4 out of 7. If you get to the playoffs, you have a chance to win it all and that is the mindset of everyone, even the underdogs.

[Mike: Well, Santana and Radke have been great in the second half (17-2 with a 3.32 ERA). They just got Eric Milton back. Lohse and Rogers have pitched acceptable as well. (The rotation is Santana, Radke, and Lohse by the way).

The offense has been a pretty sound unit with a .777 OPS since the break. The starting position players have OPSs ranging from .877 (Mientkiewicz) to .708 (Rivas). No one player has been excessively hot but none are cold either, sounds like the 2002 Angels offense.

The Twins are 0-7 against the Yankees this year, so one can just assume that their miseries will continue. However, the 1983 Phils were 1-11 against their LCS opponents, the Dodgers, but won in four games (best-of-five). That's why the play'em.]

[Dr. Hackenbush is pointing to a portrait of one of Judy's parents]
Dr. Hackenbush: You know, I proposed to your mother once.
Judy: But that's my father!
Dr. Hackenbush: No wonder he turned me down.

Colin: (Aberdeen, Scotland): Will the A's style of play (waiting for the 3 run homer) work against them in the post-season.

(10:31 AM ET ) It has for the last three years. If they play that way it will work against them again. You have to manufacture runs in the postseason. They will be facing better pitching. The 3-run HR theory can work in the regular season because you face teams with bullpens that aren't as good. They have to figure out a way to manufacture some runs or they won't win the whole thing.

[Mike: We've heard that mantra enough that we actually believe. It's too bad that it has little basis in fact. Actually the A's outhit their opponents in all three series and scored well in two of the three series. Only in 2001 could one say that the A's were over-reliant on the 3-run home run which never came. Their best offensive series was in 2002 against the Twins, but they were done in by their pitching and Art Howe's dubious rotation decisions:


[referring to Ms. Marlowe]
Dr. Hackenbush: You've got it all wrong. This is my aunt. She's come to talk over some old family matters.
Tony: I wish I had an aunt look like that.
Dr. Hackenbush: Well, take it up with your uncle.

Ben (Syracuse NY): Do you think halladay should be the cy young?

(10:52 AM ET ) At this point, it appears that way. I think he's definately pitched well enough to win it. I'm not sure if Loiza is going to get his 20th win. Pettitte has 20 wins. If they all end up with the same amount of wins, you have to look at other things like innings pitched, ERA. But he has pitched well enough to win. Unlike the MVP, it doesn't matter that his team isn't winning. It doesn't say most valuable pitcher, just best pitcher.

[Mike: Joe really doesn't like the A's, does he? I think the A's have two candidates just as strong as the ones Joe mentioned. They are Tim Hudson and Keith Foulke. Foulke has 9 wins, 43 saves, and a 2.10 ERA in 85.2 innings. With all the hoopla surrounding closers Eric Gagne and John Smoltz, I find it interesting that Foulke's name is never mentioned. I wouldn't vote for him, but he should get some mention. As for Hudson, his mere 16 wins will dissuade many voters. It's a close race that's getting closer seemingly by the day, but I think Hudson would get my vote. He has the innings and the ERA. The Win Shares have a dead heat betweeb Hudson, Halladay, and Loaiza with Foulke, Martines, and Zito, in that order, right behind. However, that does not include Hudson and Loaiza's last starts.

Look, I guess I'm picking on Joe a little here (who me?). Halladay is a fine choice and he will probably win especially if he picks up one more win. But in my opinion, an ERA that is a half a run per game better in about the same number of innings gets my nod. Joe could have at least mentioned Hudson instead of the extremely fortunate Andy Pettitte (17th among AL pitchers in Win Shares).]

Dr. Hackenbush: [to Dr. Steinberg] Don't point that beard at me! It might go off!

Brian Beliso San Francisco, California: Do you think that the Giants have the best fielding team in baseball, and is that a major contributing factor to their success in Pacific Bell Park?

(10:54 AM ET ) When Seattle has all their parts together, I think they are the best. They have the best OF and a great right side on the infield. The Giants don't make mistakes late in the game so they may be the best in the NL. It does have a big effect. Two things will make a big difference in the postseason, baserunning and defense. They are both equally important. A lot of teams are making baserunning mistakes.

[Mike: According to defensive Win Shares, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Arizona all outrank Seattle. San Fran is even farther behind. I'm somewhat dubious of them, but they are better than anecdotal evidence.]

Tony: She's in with Whitmore. She's trying to frame you.
Flo: Why, I've never been so insulted in my life!
[Hackenbush looks at his watch.]
Dr. Hackenbush: Well, it's early yet.

Ben (Norwich, CT): Is Dontrelle Willis tired, or have major league hitters just learned how to hit him?

(10:55 AM ET ) They haven't learned how to hit him. In th minors you only pitch 100 or 120 innings. All pitchers during their first year, at some point, have a lull. Their only hope is if they get into the playoffs, the adrenaline will push him the rest of the way. But if you have played mostly in the minors, you will get tired late in the season.

How about the third option: maybe he's just not that good (or that good yet). Willis was in the Florida State League at the end of last year. Also, as I stated earlier, Willis has been pretty bad in the second half. Maybe fatigue is a factor but you can't milk that for half a season. By the way, Willis pitched almost 160 innings last year, his first full one in the minors.]

Mrs. Upjohn: Dr. Hackenbush tells me I'm the only case in history. I have high blood pressure on my right side and low blood pressure on my left side.
Dr. Leopold X. Steinberg: There is no such thing. She looks as healthy as any woman I ever met.
Dr. Hackenbush: You don't look like as though you ever met a healthy woman.

Scott (New Lenox, IL): Joe: I'm a diehard Cardinal fan. What am I missing with everyone's infatuation with Tony LaRussa? He's come up short every year he's been in St. Louis and recently Cardinal owner-Bill Dewiit Jr. just gave him a vote of confidence to return next year.

(10:56 AM ET ) I read where he was going to return next year. Tony is a guy that is well prepared, a good strategist and gets the most out of his players. That is what a manager is supposed to do. Things have not gone well there the last year because they couldn't add any payroll, couldn't get pitching for him, and they have a poor bullpen. I'm not sure what else you can expect him to do. He is a very good manager is my point.

[Mike: Another of the greatest baseball fans on the planet, a Cardinal fan. LaRussa has won over 3700 games as a manger. LaRussa's Cards had won the division the last three years and 4 out of 7 of his seasons. They've won 90 or more in each of the last three years and have only two losing seasons in the last eight. I pick on LaRussa and his eccentricities as much as anyone, but he is a Hall of Fame manager after all. He is starting to show ear around the edges but if I were the Cardinals brass, I would concentrate my energies on the rotation rather on LaRussa's job.]

[Stuffy has grabbed some poison to drink]
Dr. Hackenbush: Hey, don't drink that poison! That's $4.00 an ounce!

Los Angeles, CA: Mr. Morgan, the Dodgers over the past few years have focused on a pitching/defense philosophy which has resulted (especially this year) in a mediocre and inconsistent offense at best, with no current leadership in the batting order. What is the best way the Dodgers can get back to the playoffs consistently?

(10:58 AM ET ) Two things with the Dodgers, they lost Brian Jordan, an RBI man and Shawn Green has not hit like he has in the past due to an injury. That really hurts you. They were relying on pitching and defense and that doesn't work in this day and age. You need offense to go with it. The teams in the playoffs will have good pitching, offense and a strong defense.

[Mike: Boy, the whole city of Los Angeles is so distraught they wrote to Joe.

The Dodgers have always had a poor offense. It's exaggerated by their stadium. Joe is right in that Jordan and Green's productivity dropoff have hurt the team. Plus they lost Marquis Grissom in the offseason. The basic problem with the Dodgers is that they have so few weapons that when one is lost (Grissom), or hurt (Jordan), or unproductive (Green), there isn't enough depth to cover for that one. Half the team was slightly better than average to very good offensively and the rest were stiffs. They stiffs are just outnumbering the decent players.

I disagree that relying on pitching and defense won't win ballgames. Look at the A's this year. But a team needs enough offense. They can't forego offense altogether. The Dodgers have four starting position players with OPSs worse than .650. Ouch!]

Dr. Hackenbush [In a mud throwing fight at the race track]: I haven't seen so much mudslinging since the last election!

Zach (Morehead, KY): Do you think the Bengals can rebound from their 0-3 start and get back to the glory days of Boomer and Anthony Munoz?

(11:00 AM ET ) The one thing you have to say is they have been more competitive than they have been in the past. Far more competitive. The NFL has so much parity, so I think they will win some games. To get back to the glory days will take a couple years.

[Mike: First, GBTFB!

Second, way to defend your sport, Joe! Football has more parity than baseball? The Bengals have not had a winning record since the last Bush administration. Scores of teams from Detroit to Arizona spend better parts of a decade mired in ruts where their record is worse than the worst team in baseball. The Tigers could become the worst team in baseball history, and yet there were four NFL teams with worse record last year.]

More Groucho quotes:

I read in the newspapers they are going to have 30 minutes of intellectual stuff on television every Monday from 7:30 to 8.... to educate America. They couldn't educate America if they started at 6:30. (Boston Globe 22 Jan 60)

I'd horsewhip you if I had a horse. (Horsefeathers)

Alexandria, VA: Mr. Morgan, During last year's NL playoffs Tony LaRussa suggested that Barry Bonds should expand his strike zone. I've noticed that other big hitters like Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Sammy Sosa, get a lot more piitches to hit because pitchers know that they are willing to swing at pitches outside the strike zone. Do you think Barry Bonds should expand his strike zone in order to cut down on walks and possibly get more pitches to hit?

(10:38 AM ET ) That was always the way it was in the past. They said the same thing about Ted Williams. But, the fact still remains, that's the way Bonds has become a great player, by staying in his own zone. Same thing with Ted Willams. It's hard to do what you suggest. I think it's a good thing but you can't just do it overnight. It's just very hard to change like that. But I will say this, if he doesn't expand his zone, he won't hit much at all in the playoffs.

[Mike: Joe said the magic word and won $100. The magic word was, of course, "expand the zone". I know that's a phrase and not a word, but there you have it just the same.

You know that Joe is mocking us here. LaRussa dared Bonds to get in his head last year. Besides, Bonds did not take the bait and had a fabulous postseason: 1.559 OPS, 8 home runs, .356 batting average, .581 on-base percentage, .978 slugging, 44 total bases to lead the team, and 16 RBI. I thought this misreporting was over after Bonds' postseason in 2002. I guess will have to endure it a bit more. And with that I bid adieu...]

Go! And never darken my towels again! (Duck Soup)

[Thanks to Internet Movie Database ( for the quotes.]

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