Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Ok, Joe Morgan really gets on my nerves...

When I first started watching baseball, I sort of liked Joe. I was living in the south and was a braves fan, and therefore I was aggravated by his anti-Braves bias, but I consoled myself with the thoughts that at least this guy knew what he was talking about.

Then came Moneyball. As most of you may know, I'm a fan of sabermetrics. Joe, to put is mildly, is not. The thing that gets me about him isn't his anti-stat bias, but the fact that he has relentlessly criticized a book he admitted he never even read!

But let's move on, because that subject has been done to death. I watched a little bit of the Braves Cubs games last night with Little Joe as the color man, and the man seems to contradict himself with every other sentence. Specifically, last night, Davies was facing a batter, I forget who, in the sixth inning. Now, Davies is a young and promising pitcher, and Morgan thought is was time to lecture us on how he needed to learn how to "pitch to win a game."

In the sixth, Davies had a batter down 0-2, and threw a hanging slider which was hit for a single. Morgan immediately said what a bad idea that pitch was, because of the result. He said basically that a pitcher shouldn't give up hits with an 0-2 count.

Let me explain something, 0-2 is the best count to get someone out on! I read this book a few weeks ago, about Leo Mazzone's pitching philosophy. He just quotes Greg Maddox, who asserted that he is always aggressive on 0-2, because there are so many ways to get a hitter out there. He said it's foolish to "waste" a pitch or two, because all that does is give the hitter a chance to get a more favorable count for him to be aggressive.

So was it a mistake to pitch a slider 0-2? Absolutely not! Davies did hang the slider, resulting in a single, but it wasn't the pitch selection which was the problem, it was the execution. Hey, everyone hangs one now and then.

OK, so IMHO, Morgan completely dropped the ball on that one. But the next sentence out of his mouth was "It's a good thing that was an 0-2 count, because the hitter couldn't tee off on the ball." WHAT!!????? Joe, you just said it was a terrible pitch selection because of the count! Now you're saying that basically the best time to hang a breaking ball is with an 0-2 count? Would it be better if Davies wasted a couple of pitches, then threw a 2-2 or a 3-2 hanger, which likely would have been hit a lot harder? Does Morgan even see the contradiction in his two sentences?

A slider is a high risk/high reward pitch. Hang it, and it becomes a BP-fastball. Break it, and it's unhittable. The BEST time to throw it is when you know that even if you hang it, the hitter isn't going to be able to tee off on it. In other words, an 0-2 count. Joe criticized a decision that he basically praised on second later.

Joe said in a later inning. Davies had just walked a batter with 2 outs and a 3 run lead. Joe immediately said "You see, the kid needs to learn that in that situation you don't walk the guy. He needs to learn to pitch to win rather than pitch to get good numbers."

On this matter, I'm less aggravated, because it's true that it's a bad idea to walk people late with a lead. It's also a bad idea to walk people when the score it tied, early in the game, in extra innings, and in blowouts. Maybe with Barry Bonds hitting, and the go ahead run in on third with one out in the bottom of the ninth, it's a good idea to walk someone. But in the vast majority of other cases, it isn't. So how, Joe, is it worse to walk someone in that situation than any other one? He never explains.

Actually, we have an explanation in Mazzone's book. Mazzone has a theory that you NEVER give in to the strike zone. He insists all his pitchers master the down and away strike, and that even behind in the count, bases loaded, whatever, you're going to throw on the corner, not down the middle. Yes, you're going to give up a few walks that way, but you're less likely to give up gophers.

Whether you agree with Mazzone's theories or not (and I would rather give him the benefit of the doubt, given his track record), that would have been a great opportunity for Joe to talk about Mazzone's ideas, and even give his opinion about them. It was really a great illustration of Leo's way - even ahead, don't throw the ball down the middle. Pitch away, on the corners, and if you give up a walk, so be it. Joe didn't even mention anything of the sort.

I guess the point I'm making about why I dislike Joe Morgan so much is the fact that he seems to be fossilized in his thinking. The way the Reds played in the 70s was the best way, the only way to succeed. He isn't interested in learning how other people think about the game, or how the game may be changing. As a result, everything interesting he had to say he said years ago, never giving any special insight to the game as it's played today.

Anyone who made it through this entire rant, please share your own "Joe Morgan made me want to throw my shoe at the tv" story in the comments section.

3 Comments:

At 3:13 PM, Blogger Oisín/Wizlah said...

PK - since the coming of NASN to UK shores, I've been freed of the tyranny of monday and wednesday night ESPN baseball. Imagining sitting up till 2/3 in the morning for a game featuring your beloved phils, then listening to Joe Morgan go on. . . .and on . . . and on . . .

Excuse the language, but f**ckwit is the only word applicable. Joe's problem isn't that he's a fossil. It's that he's a huge, ginormous jelly-like ego bobbing up and down in the great sea of sports analysis, adding nothing to the grand scheme of things and entangling us all in his tentacles of asinine utterances.

If he was a grumpy fossil, I could deal with it. But Joe is always right about everything because he played the game better than anyone. apparently. Great player, lousy ego, terrible analyst. Oh, and the reason I have no joe stories is I wipe them from my memory. Every time. But a former flatmate who knew lots about sport and nothing about baseball was prone to getting angry whenever he decided to foolishly stay up and watch a game with me whilst pisshed. it's a wonder we had a tv.

 
At 6:24 AM, Blogger Pawnking said...

Tell us how you really feel, man! LOL It's a wonder that most of the ESPNers have jobs, really. So many of them have ruined the sports we like to watch. Dick Vitale, Joe MOrgan, Chris Burman, the list goes on...

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger Casey said...

He and Tim McCarver always got on my nerves. I've sort of grown to accept McCarver, or at least I'm able to ignore him when necessary. But Morgan is so damn infuriating because he really does seem to think that his opinions are worth more than _anyone_ else's.

Gotta love Jon Miller though. He's a great play-by-play man with a great voice.

 

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