Friday's Joe Morgan chat was kind of lame: nary a comment to sink one's teeth into. So I present a classic Joe Morgan Chat from the end of last August. It's a retro thing like Britney Spears tonguing Madonna. She must have confused her with her grandmother and things got out of hand.
Yester-Joe-Morgan-Chat-Day All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away
We (and yet another reference to myself in the first person plural) here at Mike's Baseball Rants would like to say that we almost declared a one-week moratorium on Joe Morgan Chat Day because of Joe's excellent article on ESPN today entitled, "Why Strike?" Joe hits just about everything in the article out of the park.
Well, we almost suspended but finally we come-as always-to praise Morgan and Joe Morgan Chat Day not to bury him, er, them. Joe Morgan is to baseball analysts what Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness is to literature. He'll say things like, "I am the self which I will be, in the mode of not being it." Some people will sit there agape, some will coo approval, and some will scratch their heads and, "That makes no sense whatsoever, but it's kind of cool." If you count yourself among this last group, welcome, brother, to the world of Joe Morgan Chat Day (with the added bonus of Joe Morgan Article Day):
Joe Morgan: In 1972, the owners wanted a salary cap, and the players said no. Discussion of a cap was always a deal breaker. When I first came to the big leagues, former MLBPA executive director Marvin Miller always preached that the players did not want a salary cap.
As I've said in the past, to make it happen, the words "salary cap" had to be changed for something to get done. So now "salary cap" has been changed to "luxury tax" because a luxury tax is sort of a salary cap. At least that's what it is meant to be. And the players have agreed to it.
By allowing for a luxury tax and for revenue sharing, players are basically agreeing with the owners that the monetary system needs to change. The players are happy with the status quo, but they realize the status quo may not be good for the game. So they have made concessions on things they fought to gain in the past...
[Mike: Right, Joe. To all those misinformed columnists who claim that Donald Fehr is still trying to emulate Marvin Miller when the world of baseball has changed so dramatically, why is Fehr accepting a salary cap in the form of a luxury tax when Miller never would?]
Joe Morgan: [T]he players... Their slogan could be, "We are not asking for anything." They just want to be treated fairly and to not give up on too much of what they gained from past negotiations...Therefore, it is unfair to blame the players.
[Mike: Still think the players won't compromise?]
Joe Morgan: First, however, the owners need to stop blaming George Steinbrenner for their problems... He has played within the system, one the owners created, which is indicative of where the problems really lie.
[Mike: Take it to the streets, Joe]
Joe Morgan: The players are the game. Without the players, there is no game.
[Mike: You're preaching to the choir, man. Who ever went to a ballgame to see John Moores or Tom Hicks?]
Ben (Boston): Hi Joe. You mention in your most recent piece about the strike that the players are not to be blamed, that they just want to keep what they allready have. My question is how can the players justify making amazing salaries when the rest of the country is cutting way back? Many have lost their entire savings to Enron or Worldcomm, taken pay cuts and even lost jobs. It seems that the ball players of today do not want to have to make the sacrifices that many amaericans have allready had to make due to the economy. I believe, and I could be wrong, that the majority of pro ball players could never make another penny and live out their life in a very lavish style. I certainly dont think it is too much to ask for them to slow down the rapid growth of salaries. I do think the owners also have a responsibilty in this too and hopefully, if they get what they want they can pass off their savings to the fans. I havnt been to a game at Fenway in three years and dont plan on ever going again due to the price of tickets. thanks for your time.
Joe Morgan: First of all, I didn't say the players weren't to blame. I said the players have given a lot. Comparing a ballplayer to an average player is not fair. An average player can work 30 years; a ballplayer's average life span is five years. It's apples and oranges. You can't even compare players to movie stars, who can work longer. I understand, though, your feeling in that they make more than the average fan. In '94, I said both were to blame. If they strike again, both will be to blame again. But the players have given a lot in terms of agreeing to a luxury tax, which is like a salary cap. Unlike what people believe, there are a lot of people who work a long time and make a lot more than ballplayers do in a lifetime. Not every player like Bonds, A-Rod and other players. And as far as Enron and all that, that has nothing to do with baseball.
[Mike: You're on a roll, Joe]
Bob (Woodstock): What does a short career span have to do with anything? Players make so much money they don't need to play forever. Why not compare ball players to the average Joe? Are they that much better than us?
Joe Morgan: If you have a special skill in this country, you are paid for that skill. Whatever it is. Doctors, lawyers -- they are paid more than the average Joe too. Baseball players have a special skill too, but not all make $8 million a year. A lot make the minimum or a little more. You only read about the guys who make a lot of money. In this country, we reward people who have special skills. Will you compare yourself to Tom Hanks or Steven Spielberg? Should they be compared to the average Joes as well?
Joe Morgan: Entertainers are paid differently than anyone else in this country. They are paid more than school teachers, which I don't agree with, but it's a fact of life. Baseball players are paid more than I make, and I agree with that. They are paid more than the average person who works 9-to-5, and I agree with that too.
[Mike: Right, it's entertainment but it's also a business. If you don't like it, enjoy some other form of entertainment.]
Bryan (Kentucky): A lot of these people seem to be trying to criticize you and discredit you Joe. But what it seems that they don't realize is that not just anyone can play professional baseball. I am now into the college level of baseball as a pitcher and I see guys trying out for the team who have never played before. Why do so many people take basbeall for granted? Is it because it is so accesible to the public to see? When will they realize that regognizing a fastball that is going 90 miles an hour and THEN trying to hit it is the hardest thing to do in sports physically?
Joe Morgan: Finally, a sane voice in the wilderness. People think baseball is just a game because they tried to play it at one time. It takes a special skill to be a professional athlete. One more time: Baseball players make a lot more than I do, but I'm not mad at them. I don't have the skill to do it anymore.
Joe Morgan: I love what I do, and I'm not complaining because I can't do what someone else does.
[Mike: Joe, we feel your pain.]
John (Hamden, CT): With one week untill the strike, who will be the first party to budge, the Union or the owners?
Joe Morgan: I can't answer because I'm not in the meetings. I think the players have given a lot in admitting the need for a luxury tax, and I think the owners realize that both parties lose if there is a strike. I don't think of it as blinking; I think of it as being more concerned about baseball than their own personal agendas.
[Mike: Right, it's not a game of chicken. It's a negotiation process. I think you're going to make this week, Joe.]
Joe (Peoria): Pardon my ignorance, but if the players have played this long without an agreement, why can't they wait to strike until November and have all off season to work it out?
Joe Morgan: The players reasoning is if they wait until the season is over, the owners can implement their own rules without a contract. The only way the players have power is to strike now, which causes the owners to lose something. If they wait until the end of the season, the owners wouldn't lose anything and wouldn't be obligated to make a deal. The players feel a strike is the only weapon they have in the dispute, to cost the owners money down the stretch.
[Mike: Geez, Joe from Peoria, read the papers one time in maybe the last year before you join the venerable Joe Morgan Chat Day session. Oh, no. I feel that that bit of negativity may have jinxed Joe's roll, like when Linus said, "If the great Pumpkin arrives" and not "when" and the Great Pumpkin didn't arrive. Come on, Joe. You can do it.]
Stack (NYC): Earth to Joe - Baseball IS just a game!!!
Joe Morgan: OK.
[Mike: Uh, what was that? Was that a question? This can't be good. Oh, no!]
Andy (DC) : Joe, do you remember a better race than this years AL West? Who do you think has the best offense out of the three? We all know Oakland's pitching is superior.
Joe Morgan: That's a good question. Neither Seattle's nor Anaheim's offenses are as consistent as last year. If Glaus and Salmon hit like they are capable, the Angels would have more power. Both teams have been inconsistent offensively. The A's offense is inconsistent as well, although they are starting to use more speed at the top with Durham and Ellis. But they don't have a lot of power, other than Chavez and Tejada. It's a great race at this point. There are still a lot of games left. I expect one team to get hot and get up by a few games. I don't know which team it will be. It could be Oakland with its pitching, but Anaheim and Seattle are good teams and will hang in there.
[Mike: Psst. Joe, you didn't answer the question. Besides, Salmon is ninth in the AL in OPS, above MVP favorite Alfonso Soriano. He's really have a great year. Besides the Angels are 8th in OPS and 2nd to last in HRs in the AL because the have a first baseman with 8 HRs, The four position players up the middle (Erstad, Kennedy, Eckstein, and Molina) have not provided much offense (they have 30 HRs among them). But the team is stil first in batting average, for what that's worth. Oh, and the A's are 4th in the AL in home runs, 1 behind the White Sox for third, and they are actually last in the AL by ridiculous comfortable margin in stolen bases. The Mariners are fourth in the AL in batting average and OPS and second in on-base. Also, the three teams are 1 (Oakland, 3 (Anaheim), and 4 (Seattle) in ERA in the AL. It's debatable which is best. But that's Ok, Joe, get back up on that horse. No, that's just a figure of speech, Joe.]
Utek (LA): Certain players have been known for their intensity on the field---Guys like Pete Rose, Jackie Robinson and Ty Cobb. Is there a player today who brings that same burning intensity to win each and every inning?
Joe Morgan: There are a lot of players like that today. A lot of players who played with those three guys played that way. Those three were more outgoing on the field than other players may have appeared. Bob Gibson probably had more intensity on the mound than anyone I know. You are looking at their personality more than their intensity on the field.
[Mike: Psst. Joe, you forgot to answer the question again. Besides, Cobb was probably the most hated man in baseball. The only way in which he was outgoing was when he was going out into the stands to beat up on heckling fans. Bob Gibon is not playing today, but that's OK. If at first yuddah yuddah.]
Jay (Oneonta, NY): I want to comend you on taking the time to answer some very tough questions. I thought your article on nothing to strike for was insightful. If there is not a settlement by Friday can the players overrule Fehr and extend the deadline, or are they committed to August 30?
Joe Morgan: Very good question. They can always overrule Fehr. I don't think they will. Even Fehr can extend the date. Just because you come up with a date, it's not etched in stone. You can always extend the deadline. Like what they did that Monday, saying they wouldn't set one until Friday. I'm sure they will extend the date, but they can.
[Mike: Uh, excuse me, Joe, but Donald Fehr did not set the strike date. The players did. They voted on it. Hey could vote to extend it, but depending on the situation, it might make them look kind of weak. Don't you think? By the way, your last sentence made no sense. Are you OK? Remember you're ahead in points. You want to jab and move.]
Andrew (San Jose): If the Giants make the playoffs is Barry a lock for MVP? and if not?
Joe Morgan: I don't think he is a lock either way. There are a lot of players contributing to their teams' success. Shawn Green gets credit on the Dodgers. Albert Pujols gets credit on the Cardinals. There is Sosa, who is having a great year. Even though I don't like it, Schilling may be as valuable to his team as others are to theirs. I don't usually think a pitcher who pitches every fifth day qualifies as an MVP candidate.
[Mike: What?!? What have you been smoking? Bonds has a 266-point lead on the second-place man, Larry Walker, in OPS (1.339). That breaks down to a 134-point lead in on-base (.566) and an 131-pont lead in slugging (.773). Let's put that in historic perspective: His OPS is the fourth highest all-time-only Babe Ruth (twice) and Bonds last year ever exceeded it. His on-base would be the highest ever beating Ted Williams in 1941 by a good 13 points. His slugging average would be the fourth highest behind only Ruth and himself, again. He's on a pace to break his walk record from last year. He's batting .354. I dare you not to give it to him.
Pujols is 12th in OPS in the NL, Green is 9th, and Sosa is 4th but on a team that has not contented all year (not that that would eliminate him for me, but it would for the voters). ]
Being and Nothingness
Red_ice: Are you seriously comparing doctors to baseball players? Gee, I wonder which one is more important in this country. You don't see doctors going on strike, do you?
Joe Morgan: Yes. I guarantee you every profession has been on strike in this country. All I said was if you had a special skill, you are paid more. I didn't say anything about baseball players and doctors. I talked about their special skills. Read what I say rather than putting words in my mouth.
[Mike: Right, baseball players and doctors have special skills. Uh, I don't think doctors are striking much, Joe. You might want to reconsider that one.]
Tony, Everett (WA): Hi Joe, always love the chats. Alfonso Soriano is having an amazing year, becoming the first 2nd baseman to hit the 30-30 mark. But I can't stand people talking like this is the greatest season ever for a 2nd baseman. He's got a long way to go before he beats Rogers Hornsby's .756 SLG in 1925, or your own .444 OBP with 27 HR and 60 SB in 1976. Heck, I'd probably even call Jeff Kent's 2000 numbers better. What do you think?
Joe Morgan: I agree that this is not the greatest season by a second baseman, but he plays in New York, and that adds to anything you do. But make no mistake, what he is doing is very special. It's awesome, and he could end up with 40-40. Hornsby had some unbelievable years. When the Yankees won 114 games in '98, they were heralded as the greatest ever. But when the Mariners won 116 games last year, they were talked about in the same way. Everything in New York is heightened.
[Mike: Huh? OK, let's piece it back together. Exhibit A: Soriano is having a great year. Exhibit B: Hornsby had some great years. Exhibit C: The Yankees were considered the best team when they won 114, but then when Seattle won 116, they were considered better. But Exhibit D: Everything in NY is heightened. How? What does it have to do with Soriano and a player most people, regrettably, don't remember and who had not played in living memory? Dammit, Sam, I just can't figure it out. I am giving up forensic pathology and am moving in with a neat freak. Bye.]