So you thought that Joe Morgan could sneak an extra Chat Day by and we wouldn't notice? Well, you were right. But he made one mistake: the chat session was posted on the ESPN site. Elementary, my dear Watson. It was a stone groove, my man.
Anyway, what the hex am I talking about? It's a belated Joe Morgan Chat Day only four days after his last regularly scheduled one. We (and again I am abusing the royal "we" but it's OK: I got a special dispensation from the Pope to do so-no condoms for South America, but I get the royal "we") here at Mike's Baseball Rants love the Joe Morgan Chat Days. We remember the carefree Joe Morgan Chat Days of our childhood, playing free. The Joe Morgan Chat Days seemed to stretch on forever. Joe was one of our favorite players, snapping that elbow in the batter's box. It was enough to make one break into a swinging rendition of Sesame Street's "I love eight. Eight is great...."
Joe the baseball analyst is a more uneven but, for us, a more intellectually challenging proposition. Joe can, just as a verb does in Schoolhouse Rock, tell it like it is. Or he can feed the unwary baseball fan the worst line of pap this side of Gerber's. What we like best is when he does both at the same time.
I must say that Joe has done another 180 on us. Last week we thought we had him nailed with his Reductio ad Absurdum. Joe seems already to have soured on this and appears to be entering a metaphysical phase. He now reminds me of the doorkeeper who stands before the door to the Law in Kafka's Der Prozess or for the layman, The Trial. This doorkeeper denies admittance to the Law, at least for the time being, to some poor rube, who comes seeking the Law. The bumpkin tries to trick, cajole, and even bribe the doorkeeper to no avail until he finally dies still seeking admittance to the Law while the doorkeeper closes the door. Joe is that gatekeeper, keeping us from the laws of baseball by obfuscation and inveiglement that adds up to adumbration. You heard it here first: Joe is an inveigler. Curse you, Red Morgan.
Jim ( New York ): Hey Joe, Don't you think that Steve Phillips is to blame for not bringing in compatible players this year to the Mets or was it the right thing to do getting rid of Bobby?
Joe Morgan: That is the chicken or the egg because Phillips can say he got the right players but Bobby didn't get enough out of them. Bobby can say just the opposite. I don't know whose fault it is but I dont' see how you can put all the blame on Bobby.
[Mike: Right Bobby should have had half the team laying eggs and the other half raising chickens. Or something. Bobby V had little control over what the veterans did, not that he helped them much. Phillips created this amalgamation. He deserves the bulk of the blame after that endomorphically headed Mr. Met.]
Javs2002(Cortland): What is your prediction in the Giants-Braves series? Can the Giants really beat the Braves with thier pitching or will it come down to who can score first?
Joe Morgan: Anybody in the playoffs now can win the championship. The Giants are playing great and play even better on the road. They have a great chance to win this series.
[Mike:Right, even the '97 Marlins could win a few short series.]
Ken (Seneca, PA): Great job this season doing the games on ESPN (as always). Do you think that Barry Bonds will be pitched to in the series against the Braves? I think Bonds will be pitched to because of the Braves veteran presence both in the rotation and the bullpen.
Joe Morgan: I think they will start to because he doesnt' have a good record in the playoffs. They will just to see how he reacts. [Mike:Agreed, but not because his playoff numbers really matter (97 at-bats strewn over 11 years? Please!). Rather because Bonds apparently believes it or at least he hears enough about it from the press to believe it (or so it seemed in the 2000 playoffs). Also, I think the Braves just might have the pitching hubris or more to the point cajones to challenge Bonds though he was walked once intentionally today.]
Craig (Evansville): Joe - will the post-season every feel the way it did? It used to have a certain feel around this time of year similar to the NCAA tournement....just isn't the same anymore. I can't I think it will be.
Joe Morgan: I'm excited about the postseason ... this is what baseball is all about. I'll get even more excited as we get closer to the World Series.
[Mike:Joe's actually kvelling. I hear you, bud. Listen Craig just because the Evansville Otters didn't make the Northern League playoffs this year, it's no reason to lose your perspective. Live a little. The Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks has their bad days, too.]
Dan (Calif): Joe, Do you think Scioscia is making the right decision in starting Appier instead of Ortiz in Game 2?
Joe Morgan: That is a tough question that I can't really answer. I think he is doing it because Appier has pitched in the postseason and is a veteran.
[Mike:I have to go with Joe's theory here. Ortiz pitched better down the stretch and pretty much during the year. He had more success against the Yankees in his two starts than Appier did in his one (admittedly an extremely small sample). They were both rested. Appier did pitch well in the last three weeks of August and it might be one of those "go with the guys who got us here" things. But Ortiz did his part as well. Maybe Scioscia uses a dartboard to pick starting pitchers. Who knows?]
Chris (Califon): Do you think the format for the playoffs should be 7 games for every round? Or are you in favor of the current 5, 7, 7 games?
Joe Morgan: They should be 7 throughout but they need to shorten the season to do that. You don't want to be playing in November. To do that you have to shorten the season. Best of 7 is a better test. 3 of 5 is not as good a test.
[Mike:Well, true, but wouldn't best of nine be an even better test. How 'bout best of 35? Just being facetious. In Joe's defense he does make it abundantly clear elsewhere that any team can win a short playoff series. Seven games are a little fairer in the way that home and away games are apportioned at least.]
Chris (Califon): The Yankees MUST keep Eckstein of the bases, much the way the were able to contain Ichiro last year to a degree, don't you think?
Joe Morgan: They have kept him off so far but they only won 4 of seven. Your success will always depend on what you do with the top of the lineup.
[Mike:Chris, get a life. What are you obsessed with Joe Morgan Chat Day? How pathetic.
The Yankees have done well against Eckstein (.250 batting average and .523 OPS during the season), but that begs the question of whether they must or just should keep him off base. Your success will always depend on what you do with the one through nine hitters. Oh, and the pinch-hitters. And defensive replacements. And the opposing pitchers-getting hits off them helps too.]
Brett (Livonia, Mi): Todays A's vs Minn game should be great but why isnt Zito starting for the A's ? Your prediction of today's game too ?
Joe Morgan: Art Howe said he didn't want to change the rotation and get them out of their routine. I was surprised as well.
[Mike:It is a little surprising given the year that he's had, but it isn't really much of a rarity. Besides the way the A's have been playing in the second half why mess with it.]
Greg (minneapolis): Joe - always nice to hear your take on things...so in that case...what is your take on the Twins-A's series? I as a home boy would love for my Twinkies to win, but Oakland is a good club...your thoughts?
Joe Morgan: The real key is for the Twins to not just be happy to be here. They have to take this personally and say they are here to win. Secondly, they have to stay close through the first five innings. They cannot afford to fall behind early.
[Mike:That's an embarrassingly bad prediction given yesterday's comeback. But what the Hey. I said that John Patterson would definitely make Arizona's playoff roster.]
boulder: which team (in the playoffs) gains the biggest advantage from their home park?
Joe Morgan: Yankees. Because when you face the Yankees, you are also facing The Babe, Monument Park, the fans, etc.
[Mike:Excuse me is that boulder as in "Dumb as a..." From 1995-2001 the Yankees have a home playoff record of 29-11 and an away of 29-14. Big whoop! If you take out last year's World Series, they have a better away record: 29-10 away to 26-11 home. By the way, I think the Bambino is retired. Oh, and Monument Park is actually behind you when you play. And the fans, though some would like to, can't really play for the Yankees.]
C.J. - Jacksonville: Joe -- love your insight during baseball games. Big D-backs fan. Was actually at the first ball game at the BOB. Looking at their starting lineup today... are they going to be able to score any runs? Mark Grace is batting clean up!!!???
Joe Morgan: It's interesting beause nobody thinks of them as an offensive team but they led the league in runs scored. They will miss Gonzo and have some problems but they should find a way to run scores. If they have a downfall, it will their bullpen.
[Mike:Hey, Joe used a stat and he used it correctly. Unfortunately, the D-Backs are a different team without Gonzalez. And yeah, lineups don't matter much, but it's inexcusable to use Mark Grace as your number 4 hitter against Morris. Grace has a .637 OPS in 64 at-bats in the 4 spot this year. He did have a .760 OPS vs. Morris this year, better than most of his teammates. I guess those are the kinds of moves that makes Bob Brenly a genius. Joe is certainly right about the bullpen (where's Patterson anyway?).]
Les-MINN: Joe--the A's bullpen is probably the most vulnerable spot on their team. How long do you expect Art Howe to keep in his starters. What adjustments will be made? I love this series!
Joe Morgan: I think at this time of the year you play everything by ear. You don't plan on anything. Only thing you can plan is the starter.
[Mike:True, but the regular season still matters to some degree. As a manager, you don't just throw away everything that you've seen over 162 games. You gamble a little more, but it's not like you double-down on a pair of twos.
By the way, Oakland had a 3.82 staff ERA in the bullpen. I would say that their most vulnerable spot would be Terrence Long of the .689 OPS.]
john(atlanta): What kinda of chance do the Braves have of winning the world series? Is there line up good enough?
Joe Morgan: I think with Sheffield in to help Chipper, they can do it. Again, all the teams that are left have a shot. If you handicap everyone, it's the Yanks followed by Oakland. In the NL it's the Braves, then Giants. But it's very difficult to do that because all of them can win.
[Mike:How can it be the Braves then the Giants? They are playing each other in the Division Series.]
Reed (Irvine): The Angels do not hit a lot of HR's. Do you think this lack of power is going to haunt them this series?
Joe Morgan: That lack of power didn't hurt the Yankees winning four out of five. The Angels have power but they have a lot of other weapons. The Angels are not favored but they have a great chance to win that series. They match up well against the Yankees.
[Mike:Did the Yankees win already? They won four of seven in the regular season so that's not what he means? Does anyone understand what he's referring to? For the record, the Angels do not hit a lot of homers but that might be adaptive for their park. Their park is a good hitter's park but not for home runs. The Angels have the fifth highest road OPS in the majors for what it's worth.]
Jason (Charlotte): I see a lot of people picking the Cards to win the NL. I know it is a sentimental choice. I just don't think they have enough pitching after Morris your starters are Finley and for today anyway Benes. There bullpen is Ok not great. I just don't think that is enough. Where do you stand?
Joe Morgan: The one thing they have is the best lineup in the league. Drew, Pujols, etc. They have a good offensive club. Again, we just have to see how the pitching holds up. If you can score enough runs, it takes a lot of pressure off the pitchers.
[Mike:Didn't he just say that the D-backs had the best? By the way, the Cards have the ninth-highest batting average in baseball and the 11th-highest OPS. Of course, scoring runs does help pitchers to not lose. Good insight.]