June 20, 2003

Joe Morgan is really bugging me.: When one of the chat questions involves a comment that Morgan made in a recent column, he gets defensive and claims that the questioner is trying to put words into his mouth. He then does it again at the end of the chat. In a previous chat he thinks Billy Beane wrote Moneyball, and is upset that Beane inserted too much of his own ego into the book. He's a decent color man but he comes across as uninformed and I'm not even sure he writes his own columns. Relevant excerpts inside.

posted by mbd1 to baseball at 11:19 AM - 17 comments

From the column: Strong starting pitching, an excellent bullpen and great defense will take you a long way. Starters Jamie Moyer, Joel Pineiro and Gil Meche have led the way. On offense, the Mariners are getting hits in clutch situations while featuring the hit-and-run, the sacrifice bunt and the sacrifice fly. This is in contrast to the Toronto Blue Jays, who rely mainly on home runs. The Mariners are built for their large, expansive ballpark. Safeco Field allows you to build the type of team Seattle has. From today's chat: Stevie Ridzik (D.C.): Dig your work Joe...But one bone to pick, how can you say "the Blue Jays rely mainly on home runs." when they lead the league in BA-SLG-OBP-OPS-RUNS-RBI and are only 3rd in taters? Joe Morgan: Listen to what I say and do not put somebody else's words in my mouth. I said they have a chance of winning because they have a great offense. I'm not sure where you got that. It seems that people want to put words in my mouth. and at the end of the chat: I guess once a year I have to remind people to listen to what I say and not hear what you want to hear. I never said the A's were "struggling". I never said the "Blue Jays rely on HRs." All I ask is you listen to what I say and don't put words in my mouth! ; ) And finally, from the previous chat session: Maria (Wimberley, TX): Joe, enjoy your work. Have you read the new book "Moneyball" about Billy Beane? What do "insiders" such as yourself think about what the book says? Joe Morgan: I read an excerpt in the NY Times. It's typical if you write a book, you want to be the hero. That is apparently what Beane has done. According to what I read in the Times, Beane is smarter than anyone else. I don't think it will make him popular with the other GMs or the other people in baseball.

posted by mbd1 at 11:23 AM on June 20, 2003

I didn't notice that in the chat but that's bad. He has said a few things on air that bugged me too, and something in that column as well, wish I could remember what. He's an excellent on air guy for calling games but lately he has been putting his foot in his mouth and revealing himself to be a tad arrogant and apparently uninformed. I think the entire ESPN staff is pretty bad, actually... don't any intelligent, articulate ex-players try to go into this field? Harold Reynolds was God Awful when he started, and in what, 6 years?, has upgraded to merely bad. Rob Dibble is far too opinionated and not very good on camera either, Brian McRae is gone but he was bad too. Jury's out on Bobby V's actual ability but seeing him the first time made me wince and wonder why they didn't bring back Buck Martinez now that he's not managing the Jays. Morgan has hid it well, but he has definitely slipped up a few times lately and made me dislike him too. Did he say something odd or debatable in the Sosa debate? I can't remember. That seems like a likely candidate for what's bugging me...

posted by Bernreuther at 12:03 PM on June 20, 2003

Here's Morgan's column about Sosa. I don't see anything in there that would lead one to despise him, but YMMV. I will definitely take points off of his record for forming an opinion about a book that he had only read an excerpt (at most) of. That's just lazy journalism right there. It's just as bad as when people lawd books (or movies, or albums, or whatever) that they've not read.

posted by Ufez Jones at 01:17 PM on June 20, 2003

There are a bunch of writers/commentators out there that are now whipping boys for the sabremetric fans of baseball for either their cluelessness (Joe Morgan, ESPN), arrogance (Rick Reilly, Sports Illustrated) or raw stupidity (Richard Griffin, Toronto Star). Joe Morgan is an interesting case because he is/was revered by the fans because of his amazing career as a second basemen in MLB. He is either the best or second best 2B in major league history (depending on who you ask). But it seems that most of the time he opens his mouth, he is spouting either terrible mistakes (like above) or innane comments that fly in the face of the modern stat-fan's belief (RBI is an important statistic for judging a player's ability! Team chemistry is key! Pitch counts are for wussies!). So those that rant against him both love him (as a player) and despise him (as a talking head).

posted by grum@work at 01:30 PM on June 20, 2003

yeah, he was great, and does a good job calling games. hey look, there's Buck, calling the Cubs game on ESPN right now. Guess that answers one question. (and football player turned pitcher Kyle Farnsworth is spouting off cliches that would make a hockey player proud!)

posted by Bernreuther at 02:03 PM on June 20, 2003

Timely post. I just finished Moneyball last night, and I intend to write a review/column about it, unless I'm beaten to the punch (Hint: I LOVED it, but I'm a HUGE Michael Lewis fan, have been since Liar's Poker). Morgan is not mentioned at all in the book until the last fifteen pages, and then in a very unflattering light. My guess? Morgan has read the book or at least knows about the section that points out vividly a mistake he made calling the ALCS series action last year, and he's not happy about it.

posted by vito90 at 02:32 PM on June 20, 2003

Err, vito (full disclosure: I just finished the book and I'm a big Lewis fan as well), wouldn't he have gotten the author right if he knew anything about it? I used to love Joe Morgan and I learned a lot of baseball strategy from him back in the day, but he's lost it. He's gone senile or something. He's incredibly short with Jon Miller on air every week: anytime Miller asks him what he thinks of that night's poll on Sunday Night Baseball, Morgan hems and haws and then gets pissed and gives an excuse why he can't answer or qualifies the answer so much it's useless. Bill James' recent Abstract has an essay about the smartest players to play the game. IIRC, it's in Joe Morgan's bio. Don't think he's the smartest broadcaster in the game. Actually, James takes time out somewhere (Harold Reynold's bio, I think) to mention an on-air incident where Morgan railed against an ESPN promo showing Peter Gammons striking out Reynolds ("Harold Reynolds was a major league player! There's no way Gammons strikes him out!").

posted by yerfatma at 03:19 PM on June 20, 2003

yerfatma: Actually I just went back and checked the chat transcript - the woman who asks the question says the book is about Beane - it's not completely about Beane although he is certainly the main protagonist. Maybe she planted the idea in Morgan's head and he just slipped and didn't correct it. When I was first reading this post, I assumed that what was meant was that since the book was ultimately quite flattering to Beane that Morgan was implying that Lewis is to Beane as Woodward is to Bush, i.e. that Lewis' head was so far up Beane's ass that one could reasonable infer that Beane wrote it. Also, if Morgan is looking to discredit the book then he might want to plead absolute ignorance about it and not knowing who wrote it is one way. According to the book, the old-timers have alot invested in continuing to do things the traditional way (i.e."gut" over statistics). Morgan certainly falls into the traditional camp, so he may just be fighting the good fight for his Luddite colleagues. Then again, maybe Morgan needs a change of scenery. I think he'd make a good commisioner. Well, I used to, anyway.

posted by vito90 at 03:36 PM on June 20, 2003

I'm apparently the only SpoFi guy (or gal) who has NOT read the book, so I'll pick it up this weekend. My whole problem with Joe Morgan is that he thinks he's a goddamned encyclopedia of baseball knowledge when he's mainly just spouting bullshit. At least once a broadcast, he says something that I think flies in the face of CW (without justifying his position on why it should be done differently), and he is constantly (nod to Yerfatma) a jerk to Miller. I was really hoping the Fanatic would dump his ass onto the hard Veterans Stadium turf on Wednesday.

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:41 PM on June 20, 2003

he thinks he's a goddamned encyclopedia of baseball knowledge when he's mainly just spouting bullshit That sums it up for me. Stick to telling me how to handle a squeeze play with the pitcher at bat and two strikes on him. Don't explain why Tony Womack is a great player; he's not. Vito, I think your reading (Lewis:Beane::Woodward:Bush) is perfectly acceptable. I just don't think Joe Morgan would say something in that roundabout a manner. After reading in Moneyball about him freely assert the opposite of what's true, I don't care either way.

posted by yerfatma at 03:48 PM on June 20, 2003

Don't explain why Tony Womack is a great player; he's not. Oh yeah, his evaluation of talent leaves something to be desired, I remember one time when he was talking about how valuable Neifi Perez is... one of the most overrated overpaid useless players out there, iirc.

posted by Bernreuther at 11:13 PM on June 20, 2003

Well, basically because his talent evaluation consists of "any guy who reminds me of me is underrated."

posted by yerfatma at 12:42 AM on June 21, 2003

I wonder if my game reminds Morgan of Morgan?

posted by vito90 at 12:06 AM on June 22, 2003

Only if you're talking J. P. Morgan, Vito.

posted by wfrazerjr at 07:00 PM on June 22, 2003

So the Yankees go to play Tampa Bay and then Baltimore, and the Mets ... I'm not saying those teams are weak. That's a tough schedule. The Yankees will really have to play well. -- Joe Morgan on "Sunday Night Baseball" That's as close as I could get it down ... what a moron.

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:12 PM on June 22, 2003

All this Joe Morgan bashing is kind of funny. He was a key cog on the Cincinnati "Big Red Machine", one of the greatest teams of all time. So what if he says dumb things from time to time.

posted by cg1001a at 12:27 PM on June 24, 2003

No one's disputing his abilities as a ballplayer, CQ. Morgan was an integral part of one of the finest teams in baseball history. That doesn't, however, means he gets a free pass as a broadcaster. It doesn't even qualify Morgan to do the job. Do you think Larry Holmes would make a good fight announcer? How about Patrick Ewing on NBA broadcasts? Morgan is simply another member of what Howard Cosell called the "Jockocracy," a guy hired not because he is particularly gifted with words or thoughts, but because he could swing a bat. He's not even close to being the worst former athlete to grab a microphone think Eric Dickerson but he sure isn't Jon Miller. Here's a couple links about the "jockocracy": http://www.dumbesttv.cheeb.com/williams2.html http://www.pghsports.com/psr0210/02100111.html or you can read "I Never Played the Game," written by Cosell himself.

posted by wfrazerjr at 01:47 PM on June 24, 2003

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