Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
I know that I pick on the Joe Morgan, but I have to say that this postseason has made me appreciate the halcyon summer daze of Joe. Sure, Joe says some of the jaw-droppingest, double-takingest, dad-burn-it-est statements that you have ever heard. He eschews these new-fangled statistical do-hickeys like the leading-edge ERA and on-base percentage. He looks down on any player who came to the majors after the Big Red Machine's reign. He can waffle on a subject so severely that over the course of an individual sentence one cannot tell which side of the fence he is favoring. And if he ever does say something, don't worry he'll deny it if not immediately within the course of a week or two.
But that's Joe. I read the last Joe Morgan chat session and it seemed like attending my high school prom after being in the Big Chill of Fox's postseason coverage. Ah, those woebegone Joe chat's of yore. Times were simpler then.
Now we are burdened with commercials for Fox programs and ads for cell phones, soft drinks, beer, etc. being passed off as a baseball broadcast. We have a 45-minute pregame show that features mockumentaries on the so-called history of the sport. Jeannie Zelasko's Clutch Cargo expressions and Speed Racer cadences as well as Kevin Kennedy's pudgy pores menace us, the viewers, well after the game is done. They bookend the playoff games as horrendously as the present-time scenes bookended the actual film in Saving Private Ryan. Broadcasts are interrupted with interviews of Shecky Greene and shots of the casts of various Fox shows—what a coincidence! Mid-inning, NexTel asks us managerial questions that aren't really questions and don't involve a manger. Discuss! It gives me schpilkas in the ganetikazook.
So without further ado here's a kinder and gentler Joe Morgan Chat Day—Don't worry, it can't last:
Dave (Wadsworth, OH): Do you think Clemens will have enough left in the tank to get it done in game seven?
The only one that knows is Roger Clemens. Maybe Pedro doesn't have enough gas. We'll find that out tonight. People are trying to predict and asking for predicitions -- no one knows. That's why they play the game.
[Mike: Right you are, Joe. Besides, "gas" and performance are two different things.]
Tim(Illinois): Hi Joe. Do you think the cubs choked? They lost two straight at home with their two best pitchers on the mound.
Well first of all, what does choke really mean? The series started 0-0 and the Cubs lost 4-3. I just think Florida outplayed the Cubs, that's all there is to it.
[Mike: Right, Joe. Why do people have to boil the playoffs down to heroes and goats and curses? Teams win. Teams lose. Yeah, Little probably trusted in Martinez too long and Baker would still have Prior out there pitching if he could. However, no one choked. They tried their best and lost. Fans seem to have a tough time living with that.]
Tony (Manchester, CT): If Clemens comes up big tonight and has success in the World Series do you think he would reconsider his decision to retire????
From what I've heard and read, he is completely set on his decision to retire. I don't think a couple great games here in October could change his mind.
[Mike: Right, besides he was 17-8 this year. It's not like he was Steve Carlton touring the majors in his last season.]
Darren, Hartford, CT: Joe: Do you think that the Sox are planning to use Wakefield in relief tonight, given his ALCS magic?
Well I expect they will use him in relief tonight if the situation warrants it. He was warming up last night,
[Mike: It's game 7. You use everything but the kitchen sink.
And oh boy, did the Red Sox ever use him! He got used and abuse by Aaron Boone, and obviously he did not have his best stuff.]
Bill - Ny, Ny: Joe the great, I have to believe there is a lot of pressure on this Yankees lineup tonight due to the fact that if they dont produce there going to send Roger out on a losing note, and I understand Boone is in and Enrique is out, what do you think of this?
Well, first of all, I don't think they are thinking about Roger at this point. Personal and individual concerns are not very pressing right now as they face elimination. They want the team -- the Yankees -- to advance, not just Roger Clemens. They are one team in one direction right now. As far as Boone goes, he has not looked very good lately but I don't know that Joe Torre has too many options over there.
[Mike: What a difference a game makes.
Joe's right: no one was concerned necessarily about Roger. And that was a good thing for the Yankees and for Clemens as each survived to play in the next round.
Wilson actually did start at third but Boone replaced him later in the game and ended up hitting the dramatic eleventh-inning home run. But how could Joe be expected to have known that?]
Matt Vermont: Joe there has been a lot of criticism of Grady Little despite the fact that he has gotten the sox within 1 game of the World Series what are your opinions of Grady
I think he's done a good job to get him to this point. It's unfortunate that one game will decide whether a lot of people think he's done a good job or not. IF they win he's a hero, if not, he is a disapointment. It's unfortuante but that's the way the game is.
[Mike: See the above answer. Joe's right, Little may not be the next Earl Weaver, but he did get his team to the seventh game of the ALCS. He may have left Martinez in for one extra batter and batter Gabe Kapler leadoff in game two, but no one's perfect. It seems that he will be the scapegoat though. The funny thing is that if Posada's bloop was caught and the Sox won, Little's sticking with Martinez would have been lauded.]
Katie (Arizona): Joe, what is the Yankees biggest weakness? What makes them most vulnerable?
Their middle relief is obviously a problem. But their lack of consistant hitting and disciplined at bats in key situations are really hurting them right now.
[Mike: Actually, it's Don Zimmer's left-right combination that needs the most work.]
Bill Ohio: Mr. Morgan, The Marlins are truly one of the most amazing stories in baseball over the past couple years. Could you imagine just how good this team could have been if AJ Burnett had not gotten hurt! Anyway, what do you think the current Marlins pitchers chances are of stopping the yankees or red sox bats?
Well during the playoffs, Josh Beckett was the only consistant starter they had. But they are an amazing team whose offense never quits and they've certainly proven that they can beat anybody ... we'll just have to wait and see who they're up against.
[Mike: Joe, uh, that's why Bill here is pointing out that they would have been even better with Burnett. Swap Pavano for Burnett and you have a great, young staff. Although teams could do a lot worse than Pavano as a number-five starter.]
Ryan, Fargo ND: Hi Joe, You and John do a great job on ESPN Radio. I look forward to listening to tonight's game. What do you think is going on with the Yankees bullpen? Contreras has looked great until yesterday, and I don't think Joe Torre has much confidence in Heredia or White.
I thought that Torre had confindence in Rivera and Contreras -- those two guys, that's really it. He will now have to entrust somebody else, it's a tough choice between Nelson or Heredia, he'll have to choose somebody tonight.
[Mike: Fargo? Say "Hi" to Margie.
Actually, he chose Mussina who held the fort enabling the late-innings heroics. Not a readily apparent move, but Joe should have mentioned that any and old pitchers would be used in game 7.]
Mike: Boston: Baseball is a kids game. It supposed to be fun. Is it me, or does it look like the Red Sox & Florida look like they're having the most fun? The Yankees just don't look like a loose club. Are the expectations to win EVERY year to much to bear? The feeling of winning it all must be incredible, but the champagne must taste better when most people thought you wouldn't be drinking it. Thoughts?
Mike, go back and read my column from two weeks ago about the Yankees and the pressure they face.
[Mike: Gee, it's funny that you are from Boston and you say that. I know Yankee fans who enjoy the heck out of watching them play. It seemed to me that Martinez and Ramirez weren't too happy-go-lucky in game 3. It's all a matter of perception. As for me, I don't really care—my fun's on the field.
Oh, and Joe, You think that the Red Sox with every fan in the Nation holding his or her breath on every out and dying a thousand deaths with each misstep by the team. Ask Grady Little if he doesn't feel the pressure. You'll have to loosen the noose that the lynch mob, er, fans tightened around his throat first.]
Brian, Rockville MD: Joe, you've been around baseball long enough to weigh in on this one: where do these current playoffs rank in your eyes among some of the greatest (86, 91)? You can tell I am 24, I have had limited experience, but I haven't seen too many postseasons like this! Thanks Joe!
Every year playoffs are different, each one has its own character and point of excitement. We have two 7-game LCS -- that is always full of excitement. This certainly feels like the best in recent memory but it is also what we're watching right now so of course it is going to feel like the most important -- and it is, it's the present. Every year is different. But this is certainly exciting, can't argue with you there.
[Mike: Brian, don't go back to Rockville and waste another year. I beg of you.
What does R.E.M. have against Rockville anyway? And what happened to Elvis Costello in Chelsea? I know Russell Zizky got his A's kicked in Wisconsin once, but I digress.
"[I]t's the present"—very astute and existential statement. So is it the present now? Are you Squidward now? If Achilles and a turtle have a race, and one train leaves the station at 12:45, what has four wheels and flies?]
I have a preference for 1980 since my team won for the only time. But they get no sympathy since they just stink and are not cursed. I have been researching close playoffs and hope to have something soon.]
kevin (boston): Does Pedros antics in Game 3 hurt him or help him tonight. Personally I don;t think the Yankees are intimidated or afraid to go against him a t all.
No one knows anything about what is going to happen today. If Pedro has his best stuff, the Yankees won't hit him. If Roger brings his best stuff, the Sox won't touch him. So it depends on who brings their best stuff and which club responds best to the pressure.
[Mike: Well, it helped him in game three. He seems to thrive on it. That seems to be one of the reasons he pulled the stunt in the first place. Maybe he'll run over an old lady on the way to the game and become unhittable.]
Chris -- Michigan: Do think the viewer ratings will drop significantly for a Yankees / Marlins World Series? As a kid I loved watching your Reds, the Red Sox, Phillies, Royals, Dodgers, and even the Yanks. It's hard to identify with the current players so the Cubs / Red Sox stories were what compelled me to watch. I think I'm like a lot of other people in this. What do you think?
I think the ratings will drop. The Cubs were the draw in this post-season. If Boston wins it will keep some of the Cubs fan interested. If the Yankees win it's kind of that "same old story" disinterest. Either way I think the ratings will drop off. The Cubs were a huge draw.
[Mike: That's because MLB and Fox could only sell the facile "curse" angle. The Yanks/Marlins is a great David and Goliath story. That should play in Peoria if baseball had any idea how to market itself.
P.S., Early returns have the World Series ratings up 16% from last year.]
Brian - Boston: Joe, thanks for your time and expertise, I have seen Pedro Martinez pitch numerous times both on the road and at Fenway Park, in my opinion the guy thrives on the road much more than Fenway, and especially in Yankee Stadium, how do you feel about that?
I agree from a mental standpoint that he will be well prepared to pitch this ballgame in the Bronx tonight. The only question mark is whether or not his is physically able to match that.
[Mike: Great, Joe, but that's not the question. Is there any basis for Brian's opinions? Let's find out. Mr. Owl?
Actually Martinez's home-road splits support the assertions. Here's 2003:
Now for the last four years:
Now Fenway vs. Yankee Stadium (keep in mind that he only pitched 13 innings in the Bronx in 2003 and 50.1 in the last four years):
Well, he does seem to like the road in general. But I don't think you can say that he's significantly more successful in the Bronx than off of Mass Ave. Joe you can now continue blathering.]
Andrew (Green Bay): In your mind what was the best World Series ever? In my opinion it was the Brave/Twins series in 1991.
Everything is a matter of choice, me, I was in 1975's. I played in it so of course, first-hand, I've got to go with that one. That was exciting to me.
[Mike: Thanks, Joe. To quote Billy Ray Valentine, thanks, you've been halpful. I'd like to offer three that no one ever mentions: 1924 (Senators 4- Giants 3), 1972 (A's 4-Reds 3), and 1912 (Red Sox 4-Giants 3, one tie—the 8-game World Series to which yutz Robin Williams inadvertently referred).
These are the only three series in baseball history that went the distance and had an average margin of victory under two. Basically, the average game was won by one or two runs. Also all of the game 7's in these series were won by one run. 1924's game 7 was won in the 12th, and 1910's in the 10th. Also, 1924 featured two extra-inning games with six total extra innings and 1912's featured two as well with three extra innings in total.]
Ratan: (Dhaka, Bangladesh): If the Yankees lose tonight do you think Joe Torre will still be manager next year. I get the feeling Mr Steinbrenner is losing patience and maybe a tense loss to their arch rivals might push his patience one step too far. Whatever happens I hope Torre remains in the same seat next year.
I think he deserves to be there. George made a statement last week saying no matter what happens Torre will be retained as manager. I think he'll be there ... and I think he should be. He deserves the spot.
[Mike: Ratan, I have some of your furniture.
Yeah, if you believe a vote of confidence before the playoffs are done. And if you believe that Torre will want to be there next year.]
Mike Washington, DC: What do you think of Mike Mussina's performance in the postseason? He is supposed to be the ace of this ballclub and now he is sitting at 0-3 and the Yankees are on the brink of being bounced from the playoffs. The Moose has zero 20 win seasons, zero Cy Youngs and zero championships. Does he have what it takes to be the man in the big city?
I dont' know who said Moose was was the ace of the Yankees staff -- Andy Pettitte won 21 games -- I wouldn't say Mike is the ace ... but sure, they are definitely counting on him. He is 0-3 right now but It's not like he has been horrible. The defense behind him wasn't perfect and the offense didn't produce so you can't blame Mike completely, but you're right, he has not been up to his full potential, certainly a little dissapointing.
[Mike: Me got dumber by reading dat interchange. How 'bout u? Now I know why tigers eat their young.]
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