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Hey Joe Morgan Chat Day,
2002-09-28 02:12
by Mike Carminati

Hey Joe Morgan Chat Day, Where You Going With That Gun in Your Hand?

I have finally figured Joe out. But now for something completely different, the intro...Here at Mike's Baseball Rants, we love-well, not in the Biblical sense-Joe Morgan. Joe can make a brilliant insight or say something so ludicrous that you feel embarrassed to have yelled at the screen for so long that there are little spittle rainbows on the screen. Most often it's in confluence of these two events that Joe has reached perfection.

So now back to what makes Joe click. Joe is in actuality just an adherent to Reductio ad Absurdum. Reductio ad Absurdum is, of course, is a means to prove a given point by taking its reverse to an absurd conclusion. C'mon you use it everyday. Remember when you first said, "If Miguel Tejada is the MVP, then I'm a monkey's uncle." Well, start developing an appetite for bananas and flinging fecal matter.

The only reason that Joe is juxtaposing brilliant insights with inane tripe is to demonstrate to us mere mortals all the more the sagaciousness of said insight. The more he proffers preposterous pap, Batman, the more intelligent he really is. It's sheer brilliance. By espousing a baseball philosophy awash in ancient, hackneyed saws, he is actually trying to rid the baseball discussion once and for all of all such tripe. You are a brave man of conviction, Joe Morgan. And we salute you along with those about to rock (Fire!).

Joe even uses all three forms of Reductio ad Absurdum to keep the material fresh and to make it enjoyable for himself. He uses ad absurdum when he contradicts himself and then amusingly acts as if the two statements are consistent. He continually makes seeming knowingly false statements just to exercise his ad impossibile muscles. But his pies de resistance is when he unpacks his ad ridiculum to present something that is so implausible that it's laughable as if it were a known fact and what are you some kind of moron, anyway?-though Joe's too much of gentleman to say that.

Joe may have overdone it a bit today. He's so ridiculous that he's brilliant. Joe, stop toying with us. His erudition may be too great for a peon such as myself to properly capture. But like the slaves of ancient Rome who rode beside Caesar in triumph through cheering throngs while holding a laurel above his head whispering "Thou art mortal"-good work if you can get it, beats a haberdasher-try I must:

The Good

Kirk (Roseville): Hi Joe. What are your feelings about the Milwaukee Brewers/Jose Hernandez situation? Jerry Royster says the media/fabs [fans-I don't think he means the Beatles] are making a mockery of the game because they are watching the strikeout record? I think the mockery is that we have professional baseball players striking out at an astronomical rate! What is your opinion?
Joe Morgan: It's a story. We follow them when they do positive things. We should do the same when there are negative things. You have to mention both. We followed the home run record. We should follow this too. Holding him out is a joke.

[Mike: Joe wanted to have an entire Reductio ad Absurdum chat session, but this cheese was a bit too easy to hit out of the ballpark. Of course, sitting Hernandez is a joke, Jerry Royster is a joke, the whole damn Milwaukee Brewer team is a joke. "Libertad! Libertad Libertad!" Sorry, Tony Montana was just trying to escape from a Miami detention center.]

The Bad

Utek (LA): Hi Joe. A point about Barry Bonds. Pitchers don't pitch to him the way pitchers used to pitch to guys like Mays and Aaron. Maybe that's because Barry gets to stand on top of the plate with impunity wearing body armor, so pitchers don't feel they have a chance any more. In the past, a pitcher could knock a guy off the plate to establish the outside corner. Today if you knock a guy down you're liable to be ejected. I think if body armor were banned from baseball, and the rules about throwing at batters were loosened, Barry would end up with more pitches to hit, because pitchers would feel more comfortable challenging him. Any thoughts?

Joe Morgan: I agree 100 percent. But that works for all the hitters, and Barry is the only hitter hitting .360. And yes, it wasn't that way for Mays, Aaron and Ruth. And make no mistake, when you get knocked down enough, it does change your approach. The numbers would suffer if they could pitch to Barry the same way the pitchers did against Mays and so one, but that would be the case for other hitters too.

[Mike: Say, I went to Utek, too. What year were you? Anyway, just plain old "it was better in my day" or "it was better in my grandfather's day" bluster. Exhibit A) Bonds does have the highest average in baseball, but it's .371 not .360. So Bonds doesn't get plunked as often as the other greats mentioned, huh? Exhibit B) Check out this comparison of career hit by a pitch, strikeout, walks, intentional bases on balls and their percentage of the player's total plate appearances among the four greatest home run hitters all-time (sorry, Sadaharu Oh):

Name        HBP  %    SO     %   IBB   %    BB    %
HANK AARON  32 0.23% 1383 10.02% 293 2.12% 1402 11.34%
BARRY BONDS 74 0.72% 1328 12.87% 420 4.07% 1918 23.03%
WILLIE MAYS 44 0.36% 1526 12.32% 192 1.55% 1464 13.45%
BABE RUTH   43 0.41% 1330 12.66% N/A       2062 24.55%

Notice that Bonds has almost twice the hit-by-pitch rate of the rest? Maybe he's not getting knocked down as much as those players were and maybe he does wear armor on his elbow, but he has taken his lumps. Note as well that his walk and intentional walk rates are almost twice Aaron's and May's (Ruth's intentional walk total is unavailable), but that his strikeout ratio is about equal to the others (though Aaron is a bit better than the group). His strikeout rate is even more impressive when you consider that it comes in a time of high strikeout rates. Joe is right, Bonds is not pitched the same as these other greats. He is demonstrably more feared by pitchers and gets pitched around more. (He just got his 67 IBB of the year.)]

Jason (Jefferson City): Joe, with all that the Cardinals had to overcome this season, did you ever imagine they would be were they are at today? Do you think Pujols has a legitmate shot at MVP?

Joe Morgan: Pujols is the most underrated guy and the Cardinals MVP. But it's unfortunate he is playing in an era with Bonds. He will probably finish second or third, but Bonds wil win. The great thing about baseball once you are between the white lines it demands so much concentration that you don't let other things bother you. It allowed a chance for the Cardinals to escape their sadness on the field.

[Mike: I know that Pujols has those RBI numbers that you love and he is having a great year, but why is he a clear-cut winner in the Cardinals MVP race over Jim Edmonds? They have about the same batting average, and slugging average, but Edmonds' on-base percentage is about 25 points higher and he plays a tougher defensive position. I'm not saying that Edmonds had a substantially better year. All I am saying is it's not that cut-and-dried. By the way, Pujols is 10th in the NL in OPS, but I bet Joe is right: he'll probably finish in the top 3.]

Reductio ad Absurdum

Jake (ATL): Hey Joe, love your commentating. My question which milestone is the greater accomplishment. Sosa hitting 500 HRs or Vlady and Soriano getting 40-40?

Joe Morgan: The 500 home runs. You can have one good year and have 40-40. It takes 15-20 years to hit 500 home runs.

[Mike: For those keeping score, a 6-3 ad ridiculum. 1) Sosa has only played 12 complete seasons (including 2 strike shortened ones) and parts of two others. 2) Isn't Joe the one who talks down home run hitting today as being too easy and wouldn't Sosa be his textbook example? 3) There have been 17 (soon to be 18) men to have hit 500 home runs. There have only been three 40-40 men with two more possibles this year. 40-40 appears easier. What do you mean by "greater"?]

Brian, Cedar Grove NJ: Hey Joe. Big fan of Sunday night baseball. How do you think the Yankees and A's would match up? Who do you think has the edge?

Joe Morgan: It would be the A's pitching vs. the Yankees good hitting, and the Yankees have good pitching too. It would be a great series. And I think home field would matter.

[Mike: I score it ad absurdum, but the official scorer gave him a hit, that homer. Why does Joe insist on taking the 5th on this lob pitch? Fine, Joe, give us your analysis, but commit to someone. I'm 66.7% sure he's saying Yankees, but my certainty has a plus/minus of 238.2%. I hope that helps.]

Jake (ATL): Joe, who do you see as the favorites for the World Series? With the Braves bullpen, and having been able to rest people, they would seem to be the NL Favorite and the Yanks are defending AL Champs so they have to be faves.

Joe Morgan: The Braves have been favorites for me for 11 straight years, and they have only won one title. The great thing they have is Sheffield, but he is not healthy. And the other guys can be pitched to with good pitching. This year they are better. They have a chance, but they aren't the favorite. They have to prove they can beat the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals. In the AL, I won't bet against the Yankees, but the A's can beat anybody.

[Mike: Jake, how's the Fatman? And I don't mean dubage. I'm saying ad ridiculum. The irony is so thick you can cut it with a knife. "The Braves have been favorites for me for 11 straight years, and they have only won one title."-Do you see a connection? Can they be pitched to or are they better? Besides he never says who the favorites for the Series are: that was the question.]

Cameron (Oxford): Is this the year that the Yankees finally get taken down in the American League?

Joe Morgan: Cameron, I wouldn't bet on it. I thought last year the A's or Seattle would beat the Yankees. Neither one did. In a short series, their veterans will be critical. They can all turn it up a notch. I won't be surprised to see them in the World Series again.

[Mike: Cameron, how's Ferris? Ok, enough. That's ad impossibile right over the plate. Everyone keeps saying that the Yankee veterans step up in the postseason. Well, that may have been true, but a lot of those veterans are no longer with the team (Brosius, Martinez, O'Neill). There is not much in the way of evidence that the current Yankees do especially well on the offensive side.

Williams is batting .158 (with a .655 OPS) in the World Series, .266 (.860) in the postseason in general. Jeter is batting .291 (.787) in the WS and .304 (.820) in the postseason-both below his career regular-season norm. Posada is batting .224 (.717) in the WS, and .226 (.739) in the postseason. Soriano had only one postseason with New York and batted .276 (.802). Giambi has done well in the postseason batting .323 (.929 OPS), but that was in only two postseason series neither of which was with the Yankees. Ventura, White, Luis Rivera, Mondesi, Vander Wal, and Johnson have yet to go through a postseason yet with New York.

Their pitchers fare better but not a whole lot. Pettite is 2-3 with a 5.07 ERA in the Series and 10-7 4.34 in the postseason. Mussina has had only one postseason with the Yanks but was 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA. Clemens is 3-0, 1.56 in the WS and 6-0, 3.33 in the postseason (even though his career ERA is 3.10). Wells is 1-0, 3.98 in the WS and 8-1, 2.74 in postseason (career ERA 4.08). Hernandez (2-1 2.28 ERA in WS; 9-2, 2.48 postseason; 4.13 career) and Mariano Rivera (2-1, 1.67 WS; 6-1, 0.91 postseason; 2.58 career) are much better than their career numbers. On the whole I would say this group turns it down not up in the postseason. That may be a little unfair because we are comparing a different level of competition so career numbers may not apply, but there is not a whole lot of evidence to support the turn-it-up theory.]

Andrew G (NY, NY): Obviously Tejada is everyone's favorite pick to win the MVP now, but why is he necessarily more valuable than Soriano? Soriano has almost 40 homers, 100 RBIs, and 40+ SB out of the leadoff spot for the Yankees. Do you think they'd be in the position they are right now if he wasn't setting the table for them all year?

Joe Morgan: I agree that Soriano deserves a lot of accolades, but he has more help than Tejada. Four guys on that team will drive in 100 runs -- Soriano, Giambi, Williams and Posada. He has more guys hitting well around him. Other than Chavez, Tejada hasn't had much help. He is the only player on the A's who has been consistent.

I'm a big fan of Soriano's.

[Mike: Well, Joe, that's ad ridiculum and ad absurdum. You're a big fan of Alfonso Miguel non sequitur? Anyway, the Yanks have more guys who have driven in 100 runs, but each team has five players with an OPS of .800 or better (Williams, Posada, Giambi, Soriano, and Ventura for the Yankees; Tejada, Chavez, Hatteberg, the Jeremy Giambi/John Mabry tandem, and midseason pickup Ray Durham). By the way the A's play in a worse hitters park (according to Baseball Prospectus 4% worse on offenses in 2001). I'm not saying the A's are as good, but it's not as lopsided as you are lead to believe.]

Brad S. (St. Louis): Of the playoff teams..Which player needs to elevate his game the most to help his team advance in the post-season?

Joe Morgan: All the players on all the teams. You can't play the game the way you did in the regular season. All the star players have to elevate their games.

[Mike: That's ad absurdum unassisted. Logically if all the players elevated their games, wouldn't they just cancel each other out.?]

Wilson (Detroit): Joe, I know you like A-Rod for MVP, but isn't the real MVP valuable = winning, Tejada hands down.

Joe Morgan: First of all, you aren't listening to me or reading my columns. I agree Tejada is the MVP. But the rules don't say the MVP on a winning team. There are instances when guys have won on a last-place team. I believe winning should be a tiebreaker. It should sway in a player's favor. I have been picking Tejada for the last month.
[Mike: He's hitting for the cycle here. Talk about raising your game down the stretch. Two statements: "the rules don't say the MVP on a winning team" and "winning should be a tiebreaker". Right, good. So how do you get to Tejada from that particular dialectic? It's got to be full form Reductio ad Absurdum. That's the only explanation.

Dan, Ankeny (IA): Joe, Since the Twins have struggled this season against lefthanders, do they have any chance to beat the A's, who could throw Zito and Mulder in four of the five games?

Joe Morgan: Yes. Anybody in the playoffs has a chance to get to the World Series. They have struggled against lefties, but in a short series players can get hot. The Twins' big problem is more that they are playing the A's with their exceptional left-handed pitching, but don't count the Twins out.

[Mike: Wait for it.]

Mike(Chicago): Do you think Barry Bonds will be walked every time up in the playoffs?

Joe Morgan: Not in the playoffs, because he has to prove to people he can hit in the playoffs. He has never hit well in the playoffs. He has to prove he's different in playoff pressure. If he starts out well, they will walk him. But he has to prove it first. The Giants also have to get into the playoffs first. It's not over yet.

[Mike: Wow, How does he do it. That's like a doubleheader of two perfect games in the Reductio ad Absurdum world. The Twins can do anything in a short series but Barry Bonds and the Giants need to prove that they can do something. In Bonds' case we are talking about 97 at-bats spread over 11 years. How is it relevant especially if the Twins' problems with lefties this season is not? By the way, the Twins are fifth in the majors in runs produced against lefties, not conclusive, but interesting.]

[Mike: That's all the time we have left. I wil be busy revering the heroes I grew up with who are in college ball now. Also, I will be giving a symposium on how you can play baseball prior to being conceived. Oh and remember, the bunt is good and today's ballplayer bad. ]

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