Last week, I talked about a few things that Steve Phillips could have done better in his chat on ESPN.com. But let’s face it, my bread and butter is talking about how stupid Joe Morgan is. And I happen to have two weeks of chats to support my opinions. Let’s do this.
From last week’s chat, we have a few items:
Alex (nyc): Joe fantastic work as always, Do you feel Jose Reyes can be as good and prolific as Ricky Henderson was?
Joe Morgan: No, but I think he could be close. I think Ricky Henderson was perfect as a leadoff hitter. He could walk, he could steal bases, he could hit .300. Reyes doesn’t walk. He doesn’t have the on-base percentage that Rickey did. I think it’s something that you have, taking pitches, I don’t think you can learn it. Jose Reyes is going to be a great player, but he’s not going to walk as much as Rickey. That’s the only difference. After that, you’re right, he could be a clone of Rickey.
I agree with the general sentiment here, that Jose Reyes has a long way to go to be Rickey Henderson, and his 44 walks in about 600 plate appearances are not up to Rickey’s standards. The part I take issue with is saying Rickey Henderson “could hit .300.” Well yeah, he COULD, and he did seven times in 25 seasons. But Joe says it like it’s something Rickey did on a regular basis. It reminds me of when Ryne Sandberg referred to himself in his own Hall of Fame speech as someone who “could hit 40 home runs.” Yeah, you did it once, Ryno, but it’s not like you could do it any time you wanted to. And Henderson was a career .279 hitter who had a few seasons at .300 or higher, but he wasn’t a .300 hitter.
Marc (East Rockaway, NY): Braves are 19 games out. Can you even remember a time when they were this out of it?
Joe Morgan: No, but you have to remember, they are 19 behind the Mets who have the best record in the NL. But look to where they would be if they were in the West or even the Central. They’re just in the division with the best team in the NL.
I’m not sure what Joe’s point is, but at the time that he wrote this, the Braves would have been seven games out of first in either the Central or the West (not to mention 15-1/2 back in the AL East, 19-1/2 in the AL Central, and 13 in the AL West). So while it’s true that the Braves wouldn’t be as far back in the other NL divisions, to paint the picture as if they would be contending in the Central or West is just plain wrong.
kevin cali: Who is the best man to call a baseball game, if you had to pick one? (It’s a shame that baseball fan ouside of LA cannot listen to Vin S. everyday, he is the best.)
Joe Morgan: Well, I don’t think you’re alone. I think a lot of people think Vin’s the best, maybe ever. He used to do national broadcasts on TV. But I think he’s better on radio than on TV.
Vinnie’s style is to be the same whether he is on TV or on the radio; in fact, the first three innings of games he calls are generally “simulcasts,” going out over the TV and the radio at the same time. So Joe, if you like him more on the radio, close your eyes, because it’s exactly the same. (Coincidentally, I like Joe Morgan more when he is on the TV and Vin Scully is on the radio drowning him out.)
Dave (Florida): Todays pitchers are supposed to be stronger than pitchers 25-30 years ago, but in your day they threw 20-25 complete games a year. Now a days pitchers cant even get into double digits, why did that change?
Joe Morgan: Well, it changed because we started babying pitchers. By that I mean that we didn’t force them to finish what they started. Things are more specialized. Gibson, Koufax went out there to win. Now I see headlines where a guy goes five and gets the win. We don’t push the pitchers like we did before. They say they do to save the arms, but we have as many arm injuries as we had before.
I am so tired of Joe Morgan thinking everything was so much better back in the old days. First of all, it is rare for a pitcher to get a win in a game when he only pitches five innings. Does it happen more than it did in the 60s? Sure. But it’s not like it happens every day.
As for Joe’s assertion that “we have as many arm injuries as we had before,” well, that’s just not something he can prove. The only thing we can look at is the life expectancy of a pitcher, and even that is hard to look at because current pitchers are, well, still playing. But let’s look at these numbers from 1900 on. These are the average career lengths (in years) of pitchers who debuted in each of these decades:
Keep in mind that 20 of the 710 pitchers who made their debuts in the 1980s are still active, and 214 of the 1026 who debuted in the 1990s are still going, so the numbers for those decades will be higher (significantly higher, in the case of the 90s). What we are seeing is a steady upward trend in “life expectancy” for pitchers. It’s not proof of anything, but it’s better than any proof Joe Morgan can provide that limited workloads for starting pitchers don’t do any good.
That brings us to yesterday’s chat, which had a couple doozies.
Michael (Pittsford, NY): Hi Joe, Quick question about Robinson Cano. I think he’s going to be an amazing hitter. He sprays the ball around, and has a lot of power. I’m unsure about his fielding. Have you had much opportunity to watch Robinson Cano play the field? On the one hand, he looks very smooth, and makes some exceptional plays. On the other hand, he drops some routine balls, and seems to be a little non-chalant. What’s your opinion on Cano’s ability to play second?
Joe Morgan: I won’t use the word non chalant but he does look a little too relaxed. You have to attack the ball in the field just like you do at the plate. I agree 100 percent about him as a hitter. The ball really jumps off his bat. That is how I view a hitter. He has power and can hit to all field. He is just a little too relaxed out in the field.
First of all: “I won’t use the word non chalant” is one of my favorite things anyone has ever written. If you don’t know why, we can’t be friends.
Second: what does nonchalant (or non chalant) mean if not “too relaxed”?
And now, get ready for this…
Rick (NYC): Is it possible for Joe Girardi to win Manager of the Year and get fired? Is Loria out of his mind?
Joe Morgan: I don’t think he will win Manager of the Year. What about Willie Randolph? He has been without Pedro and Glavine and dealt with so many injuries yet they have the best record in the league. How could Girardi be Manager of the Year with a .500 record? I don’t understand that.
It’s easy, Joe. One team was expected to win 60 games, and they are on pace to win 82 and make a push for the playoffs; the other team was expected to win 95 games and win their division, and they are on pace to win 100 games and win their division. I’m not saying Willie Randolph doesn’t deserve consideration for Manager of the Year, but dismissing Joe Girardi’s candidacy like that demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of some fundamental aspects of the game of baseball. But the debate went on. Check out this next one (try to ignore the unrelated first part about Derek Jeter):
Jenny (WVa): Then what is Jeter’s weakness? Also, Why would Willie Randolph win Manager of the Year when he is more or less a caretaker of an already stacked team?
Joe Morgan: How is the team stacked when they were without Cliff Floyd and all those injuries! I can’t argue with people who don’t understand the game. Just because you have talent doesn’t mean you will win. The manager has to put that talent to good use. Has Joe Torre been a caretaker his whole career? Of course not.
Here is Joe Morgan’s subtlety: make true statements and pretend they support the opinion he is presenting. It’s true that talent doesn’t automatically equal wins. It’s true that a manager has an important role. But it’s ALSO true that it is easier to win with great talent than with 20 rookies, which means that Willie Randolph exceeding expectations by five wins with a stacked team (and no matter how much Joe Morgan mentions Cliff Floyd, the Mets still have Delgado, Wright, Reyes, and Beltran on offense) might not be as impressive as Joe Girardi exceeding expectations by 20 wins with a rookie roster.
And “I can’t argue with people who don’t understand the game”??? I feel like saying that to Joe Morgan all the time.
A bit later, someone made about the same point I made above:
Joe (Detroit): How many wins did you have the Marlins slated for at the beginning of the season with a 14 million dollar payroll ? The Mets payroll is how much ? Girardi should be manager of the year hands down.
Joe Morgan: So the way you vote is on expectations from analysts before the season? What was the projection for the Mets? Didn’t most people pick the Mets to finish third with all that talent? If Girardi is Manager of the Year then Cabrera should be MVP. That’s not how you pick Manager of the Year. A lot of people want him to win but he won’t. But don’t get me wrong, he has done an outstanding job.
I’d be interested to find one expert who picked the Mets to finish third this season. A few may have picked them to finish second behind the Phillies, but the vast majority of people who know anything picked the Mets to win 95+ games and finish in first place.
And is Joe Morgan really saying that judging how well a manager does with the team he is given is not a good way to judge how well he did as a manager? Really???
And finally, Joe Morgan ended the chat with this:
Derek (CT): Hey everybody, stop being so hard on Joe Morgan! Everyone is entitled to their opinions, particularly a two time MVP and World Series champion!!
Joe Morgan: Thanks, Derek. But I like folks to have their opinions. We both deserve to have our own thoughts. Just don’t get upset if we don’t agree. We can disagree. That is what makes baseball and sports so much fun. There are varying opinions.
In other words: “Please forgive my evil twin for saying, just nine minutes ago, that Jenny from West Virginia doesn’t understand the game of baseball just because she disagrees with me. I am a moron.”