The Idiocy of Joe Morgan

By | December 24, 2004

Three things about myself that never cease to amaze me: how cute I was as a kid, how small my size 13 feet look compared to the rest of my body, and the lengths I will go to to prove Joe Morgan wrong. Today’s lesson in The Idiocy of Joe Morgan 101 is entitled, “Things Joe Morgan says because he is an ‘expert’ and he is pretty sure no one will take the time to check his facts.”

First, let’s give a little background for any readers who may only know Joe Morgan as a Hall of Fame second baseman and, therefore, still respect him. Joe Morgan is currently a color commentator for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. The first time my mom ever made no-bake oatmeal cookies, I was four years old, and I happened to be developing appendicitis at the time. I ate one, and then I threw up because of the appendicitis, but my mind associated it with the cookie, so I didn’t eat another one for years. That’s the way I feel about Jon Miller these days: I am sure I would like him, but whenever I hear his name, all I can think of is the fact that he is Joe Morgan’s broadcast partner, which makes me want appendicitis again.

(Before I go too far, let me add that Joe Morgan is the anti-Madonna. You know, people like Madonna, Fabio, Moses, Shaq, etc., who only need one name to be identified. I can’t bring myself to refer to Joe Morgan simply as “Morgan,” even if I have already typed his full name in the same sentence. He is ALWAYS “Joe Morgan,” so don’t let it bother you.)

A couple of Joe Morgan’s logical gems from over the years:

  • A few years ago, he explained why Greg Maddux is such a great pitcher: because he throws so many strikes. He followed up with, “And the reason you want to throw strikes is simple: the more strikes you throw, the fewer pitches you throw over the course of a game, so you can pitch later in the game.” This is classic Joe Morgan, because it is either very simple or pretty stupid. On its most basic level, sure, the more strikes you throw, the fewer pitches you will throw. But did ESPN hire a Hall of Famer to explain things that a 10-year-old could figure out? And when you take it a little deeper, I can think of a situation or two where you would throw a lot of strikes, throw very few pitches, and NOT be a great pitcher. Like if the first ten pitches you threw in a game were hit for homers: very high percentage of strikes, very few pitches, very crappy pitcher. So really, all Joe Morgan was doing was over-simplifying the things that made Greg Maddux the best pitcher of the 1990s.
  • The greatest one ever: Joe Morgan explained that there are more groundballs hit to the right side of the infield because “the field is sloped a little bit that direction.”

Which all brings us to the one that has been bugging me for months. In July or August, Barry Bonds was intentionally walked leading off the 10th inning of a game, and Joe Morgan said: “A lot of times, teams will intentionally walk Bonds to lead off extra innings, and he comes around to score the winning run.” This is exactly the sort of thing Joe Morgan loves to say, because if the listener doesn’t question it, it seems reasonable. If you just assume that Joe Morgan has actual stats he is looking at when he says this stuff, you just believe it. But me, I don’t believe that Joe Morgan has ever looked at a stat sheet in his life. So when I heard him say that, I wrote it down and committed to, someday, prove that he is an idiot.

It took me a few months, but now that I have a new job and a new baby and it’s the Holidays and stuff, I have plenty of time to do useless research for no reason. And here is what I have discovered:

In the six seasons beginning with 1999, how many times has Barry Bonds been intentionally walked to lead off an extra inning and come around to score the winning run that inning? Twice. Two times. Dos veces.

In Joe Morgan’s defense, the two occurrences DID happen within two weeks of each other, in May of 2004. But even if they had happened on the same day, twice in six seasons is NOT “a lot of times.” It is twice. That means that there have been about 970 games in which that did NOT happen. Now, 970 is a lot. Two is not.

Joe Morgan would have been a little more correct if he had pulled something less specific out of his butt. There are three other times (once each in 2002, 2003, and 2004) when Bonds walked to lead off extra innings and scored the winning run, but the walk was not intentional. Of course, Joe Morgan didn’t know that when he said it. All he knew is that he was being paid good money to say something that sounded smart.

Well, that’s the bell. Have fun at recess, and remember the things you have learned today in Idiocy of Joe Morgan 101.

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