Wednesday, July 22, 2009

10 comments A New Entry In My New Favorite Feature

I have a new summer favorite feature that no one else but me seems to like, but it doesn't bother me. I love doing the chats ESPN has with Joe Morgan. I know now why FJMorgan liked doing them so much, because they really are fun to mock. The best part is there is a surprise in the JoeChat for everyone to read AND Joe was seemingly coherent for the entire 25 minute chat. Yes, he only chatted for 25 minutes. I think that breaks his own record for shortest chat ever at ESPN.

First, I wanted to cover Bill Simmons' last article with ESPN the Magazine. I make it a habit of not picking on family members, because I think it is kind of cheap, so I am not going to make fun of the article Bill wrote that was a tribute to his father. We even get a picture of his father as an added bonus and I won't make fun of that either. An email conversation with Fred did lead me to want to comment on a couple of things though.

1. I think it is pretty clear Bill Simmons is clearing the way for his eventual exit from ESPN. Fred asked me if Bill was leaving ESPN, which was not made entirely clear in the magazine article if he was leaving ESPN or ESPN the Magazine, but I knew that Bill had quit writing the ESPN Magazine columns. I don't want to re-write what I wrote to Fred, so here I am quoting myself, and this is what I think is happening. My thoughts:

"It was quietly announced a few weeks ago that Simmons would not be writing for ESPN the Magazine anymore. I don't think it means he is leaving ESPN, though I think his contract is up in 2010 and he is planning on leaving ESPN at that time. I think that is why he is publicizing his book so much and trying to be so apparent on Twitter and all of that, he is preparing for life after ESPN. I think he will be gone soon, but not quite yet. I have no inside information on this, it just seems like this is the direction is going to go."

I believe Bill Simmons will leave ESPN in 2010 when (I think) his contract is up and I think this is the first step to making sure he is able to break free from the daily grind of ESPN and allow himself more time to do other things. I don't think he is going to go the entertainment angle again, but I think he may try to do a little free lance writing and write some books in his free time. He will probably sell a lot of books so this may be a good move for him.

His dedication column to his father also sounded a little bit like a self realization that he may want to move in a different direction at some point. This is obviously speculation but I do think Bill Simmons won't be long for ESPN after his latest contract runs out due to creative constraints and the demands the job requires, like actually writing columns every week. He has his blog, his Twitter and I think he believes he could very well do exactly what he is doing now except without ESPN holding him back on what he can say and do. I actually believe this too, so its probably a good move for him.

2. I was looking at Bill's picture of him and his father and I couldn't figure out who his dad looked like. I immediately saw it and thought Bill took a picture with a hippie or the Monopoly guy. He could also be David Crosby if he lost a bunch of weight, quit having children with lesbians, and had not drunk alcohol and done drugs for several decades. I can't figure out who he looks like. I may need help on this. Let's see who can come up with the best idea of who Bill's dad looks like. Nothing offensive please.

3. Bill said on his Twitter that picture was taken at the 2 minute mark of the Super Bowl against the Giants. What you see in their faces are dreams of a 4th Super Bowl ring. I bet Bill thinks he jinxed the Patriots by posing for this picture.

4. I don't like it when Bill posts something about his family but I certainly prefer it to another mail bag or anything commenting on gambling or his favorite teams.

Let's do a JoeChat! I am not sure it is actually Joe doing the chat because he is remarkably coherent at times.


We're getting Joe right now!

This probably has to be the hardest chat for the Buzzmaster to get everyone excited about. You know he wants to start it off with "You know you are not getting your question answered so why do you even bother showing up?"

But he can't do that.

JM: This Sunday Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson will be elected into Baseball's Hall of Fame. I've been thinking about the future of the Hall of Fame. I've been thinking about it because I'm Vice Chairman of the board and a Hall of Famer.

Joe gives a little shout out to himself here. What an interesting way to start off a chat. He brings up a question for discussion that never actually gets discussed. I am not sure Joe still understands the complete idea behind having a chat. A chat is not exactly a roundtable discussion where the host brings up a topic and everyone discusses that topic.

I also enjoy Joe's three short sentences that read like he is a 5th grader writing a paper.

"I have been thinking about soup a lot lately. I like to have soup every night for dinner but I do get tired of it. My dad works for Campbell's Soup Company so I get all the soup I want."

I'm having a real problem with trying to decide with guys that have tested positive or admitted using performance enhancing drugs. I can't come to a definitive conclusion or solution to what should happen. I'm sure this is something that will continue to bother me until someone who has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs is put in front of the baseball writers.

Are the baseball writers like a Congressional Committee in that they get to ask players questions before they enter the Hall of Fame? If not, then the baseball writers will never have a chance to quiz the steroid users. I like how Joe is the Vice Chairman of the Board and he still doesn't exactly know how the Hall of Fame process works. He thinks he can interview each candidate.

(They don't get to do that do they? If so, ignore what I just wrote. I couldn't find anything pertaining to this on the Internet.)

I wonder when discussing player's candidacy for the Hall of Fame if Joe refrains from voting because "he hasn't seen enough of the player to vote for or against him."

This brings me to another problem...Joe always says he never sees teams or players play, yet he has a Hall of Fame vote. How does he judge the player's candidacy if he never sees them play? Am I overthinking this?

Matt (New Jersey)

Hey Joe. Other than Pujols, is there any 1B better than Justin Morneau? What a fantastic player he is...

Great non-question Matt!

JM: He's considered an offensive player as much as anything. He doesn't run as well as Pujols, but he's a great hitter.

Pujols career stolen bases: 55
Morneau career stolen bases: 4

Joe is right! This can't be Joe writing this.

Prince Fielder and Justin Morneau are the future stars at that position, though Pujols is still young.

Justin Morneau's age: 28
Albert Pujols's age: 29

Yes, it is still Joe Morgan. Only Joe Morgan could get (guess) which player has more stolen bases in their career but completely whiff and say that Morneau is the future of the 1B position when he is only 1 year younger than Albert Pujols.

Michael (Houston)

Do you think the Astros can really do it?

Great non-specific question where a normal person would have no clue what is being referred to. Maybe this is the way to speak to Joe to get an answer.

JM: Yes. I don't know what's the in water there in Houston, but it seems to energize these guys in the second half every year. I thought they could have made the playoffs last year, except for the hurricane that moved those three games from Houston to Milwaukee.

The Astros ended the season 3.5 games behind the Brewers. Yes, the Astros could have made the playoffs if they had swept the Brewers at home and then won the final game of the year against the Cubs. That game was never played because it was not necessary. Though Joe is yet again factually correct, (which is a shock in itself), it is a little bit of a stretch to think the Astros would have swept the Brewers, even in Houston, and then beaten the Cubs as well to in the Wild Card spot.

Matt (Jacksonville)

Joe, the Cubs can't seem to get on a consistent roll. Is there anyway for them to get any consistency this year?

Another Fire Joe Morgan plant. Matt from Jacksonville seems to write to Joe every week and use the word consistency many times in a sentence when asking a question about the Cubs.

JM: Last year there was something about the Cubs personality of the team. There was something different. They were a fun team to watch. I enjoyed watching them. I enjoyed talking to them.

This sentence is much more enjoyable to read if you do it in the voice of Champ Kind from Anchorman when he is melting down in the anchor room because Ron Burgundy is not hanging out with the gang anymore. Do it once and I promise you will enjoy it.

THere just seems to be a different personality of the team this year. In addition, the confidence level has fallen a little bit.

It could be the fact the team has had a ton of injuries and they are losing baseball games. Losing baseball games tends to dim a team's confidence just a little bit.

Everyone talked about DeRosa and he's one of my favorite players, but Jason Marquis is also gone.

I like how Joe takes this year's performance by Jason Marquis and assumes he has pitched like this with the Cubs so the Cubs miss him due to this.

Marquis numbers this year:

12-6, 3.49 ERA, 1.264 WHIP

Marquis numbers his two years with the Cubs:

2007- 12-9, 4.60 ERA, 1.388 WHIP
2008- 11-9, 4.53 ERA, 1.449 WHIP

The Cubs miss the 2009 Jason Marquis but he never pitched that well for the Cubs. He was a pretty much average pitcher for them. So yes, if they could predict the future they would miss Jason Marquis.

Kevin (Rochester, NY)

With the trade deadline a little more than a week away, does the mood of a clubhouse change with the impending deadline?

JM: Those kinds of things interfere with their concentration and focus. It's something that happens every year and you can't get away from it. To put Roy Halladay's name out there this early, I thought, was a mistake by the Blue Jays.

It was a huge mistake to try and drum up some competition for Halladay's services in order to get the best and largest package available back in return? Does Joe think the Blue Jays should have decided at the last minute to trade Halladay and then take the first thing offered? If he is going to be traded, then they need to do their due diligence and get something substantial in return and that often takes time.

But he's a competitor and he's kept it from changing his focus on the field. But he's a star, a big star. If the trade doesn't happen, you can't go back to him and just say you were kidding. So, Halladay has to be traded.

Halladay seems to be pitching pretty well right now knowing he may be traded, so yes, they could very well say they were kidding and keep him for the rest of the year. He is under contract for next year and the Blue Jays can still try to trade him in the off season. I don't see how Joe figures Halladay HAS to be traded.

Ben (Greensboro, NC)

Now that the Braves have played more consistently after the All Star break, do you seem them being able to overtake the Phillies for the NL East title? If not, do you think they have a shot at the Wild Card spot?

Here's your wonderful surprise! I snuck into a JoeChat and asked him a question. It was a last minute thing so I did not have a great question to ask but I felt victorious seeing it posted.

JM: The Braves are a team that always seems to find good pitching and they're always lacking offensive punch. When Chipper Jones is healthy, he adds the punch that they need and the stabilizing force they need in the lineup. But any time he's injured, that lineup becomes offensively challenged. I just don't think they have enough offense to challenge the Phillies. THey have good pitching, but not enough offense. Pitching is great, but you still have to score runs to win.

Then Joe hit me with a coherent and well thought out answer. I can't mock him on the very question I asked because it is exactly correct. I think it is coherent because he called their game Sunday night, where they scored a lot of runs but that is beside the point, so I think that is why the answer is coherent. Give him a week and he won't be able to answer this question.

Ben (Lincoln, NE)

So Mr. Morgan, are the White Sox legit contenders? Because it seems most analysts still only think the Tigers or Twins have a real shot at the AL Central... and I'm not sure why they ignore the southsiders...

JM: I definitely believe the White Sox have a chance. Any time you have Dye, Thome, Ramirez, you have a good team. I don't know when Carlos Quentin is coming back, but if they can get healthy, I think they definitely have a chance.

Here goes Joe not paying attention again. Carlos Quentin was activated on Monday...this chat was on Tuesday. Maybe I am being nitpicky but if knowing baseball was my job, I would know this.

john (cincinnati)

thanks joe, it seems like each team could be given challenges to use throughout a game on close calls.

I thought John From Cincinnati got cancelled, I guess not (waiting for someone to get this bad and corny joke).

He is talking about instant replay here.

The only problem with that, the games would last 10 hours. Guys would use up their challenges just to use them. One problem with instant replay, let's say the bases are loaded and a player catches it, but the umpires say he didn't catch it and there are runners going everywhere. Then they go and look at it and they find he did catch it, so what do they do with all those runners that scored? The play continues. It's a very difficult thing to use replay in baseball.

There is no way this is Joe Morgan typing this. It's too educated and knowing to be Joe. I do have to say if each manager was given one challenge it would not hold up the game that long, but he brings up a valid point that would need to be resolved before using instant replay on non-home runs. It would be harder to use instant replay in baseball.

It's not like football. Football is segmented. Here's a play, here's a play. But baseball has one play following another.

Actually baseball is also segmented between pitches so it is a very similar principle. Maybe Joe IS typing this. Say there is a play called in football and the play starts, a player fumbles the ball and the defensive player runs the ball to the end zone for a touchdown but the officials whistle the play dead because they say it was not a fumble...well the defense is just shit out of luck if on instant replay it shows there was a fumble because the play was whistled dead.

It's very similar to the example Joe just gave in baseball. If a ball is trapped and is called a catch, how do you account for the runners that would have scored if the play was called correctly? Do you call it a single and let the runners move up accordingly or do you call it a ground rule double and let the runners move up accordingly? Would it depend on the play? The plays in baseball are segmented by pitch, while they are segmented by snap in football. They are similar.

Gary (Warren, MI)

To your comment about HOF admission of steroid players: When did the substances that they used become illegal within the sport? When McGwire was found with Andro in his locker, wasn't it being sold over the counter at nutrition stores? (Now, the lying is a different issue,) but if it was not illegal, should they have a legit shot at the HOF?

JM: McGwire's situation is different. I was talking about guys that have admitted to using or tested positive. That's what I was referring to. Not guys that we suspect or guys that we think might have done it. It's hard to convict someone without proof.

To get Joe's Hall of Fame vote, just don't get caught or admit to using steroids and you are going to be fine. Basically he is saying McGwire gets his Hall of Fame vote because nothing has been proven, though McGwire almost admitted to using steroids at the Congressional hearings, that's not enough to convince Joe because he never actually said it.

Mike (LA)

In your opinion where is Halliday at years end?

There is no way Joe can answer this.

Well, everyone seems to be talking about the Phillies. But I think the Phillies need him less than some other teams. The Phillies are widening their gap. And they don't need to give up their future prospects to get him.

Every team needs a pitcher like Roy Halladay and the Phillies still need another pitcher, even given their current 10 game winning streak. I also like how Joe thinks they should sit pat because they are currently on a winning streak. I think it is smarter to look at the overall makeup of the team and judge from there because this winning streak is going to end at some point and I think they still need pitching.

Also, what are "future prospects?" Are they kids still in high school who haven't been drafted yet? If so, I think a lot of teams would love to start trading those players for Halladay.

"I want to trade Collin Hernandez and Jon Martinez from West Dade High School for Halladay. Will you accept that trade?"

There are several teams that I think he could go to that would make them instant World Series contenders. The Yankees for one. Their starting pitching is suspect. Milwaukee. THey could get what they got from Sabathia. The Mets.

I think the Mets fans will be really surprised to learn if they trade for Roy Halladay they will become instant World Series contenders. I was under the impression many Mets fans think the season is over regardless if they trade for Halladay or not. The Mets have been hit incredibly hard with injuries in regard to their position players, I don't know if Halladay can make up for that problem.

JM: I'm looking forward to going to the hall of fame this weekend. I always have a good time and rubbing elbows with other hall of famers. I always have some good stories. Looking forward to sharing some with you next week.

Stories about his conversations with players from the Big Red Machine AND stories about how he believes Tony Perez should be in the Hall of Fame? I will not look forward to this.

There are still 7 total spots left for the Fantasy league and one more spot left to hit the minimum of 8 players I want. If anyone wants to join, just tell me. Here is the information for the Fantasy League on Yahoo for those that expressed interest. If you do have interest, feel free to use this information to sign up:

League ID: 316018
Password: eckstein

I do realize the pointlessness of having a password and then posting it on the Internet. so if some random assholes decide to take all the spots in the league or something just to be a dick, I will delete the team and let the 7 people who have expressed interest already in the league instead. Otherwise, anyone is free to join of course. I will go over the set up more tomorrow.


KentAllard said...

I thought the Andro question was a good one. I will confess to having used Andro for a month, and I bought it at a local Publix grocery store, so it wasn't exactly an illegal drug, then. (For the record, the only effect it had was to make me even more surly, including one paring lot fight which I don't think would have happened otherwise. Kids! Don't take Andro.)

Martin said...

I love how Joe says that they will be elected this Sunday. Um, no Joe, they will be inducted. They were elected a couple months ago.

As long as the substance wasn't banned by baseball, I don't care if it was "legal", and all these old timers like Frank Robinson are hypocrites. I like Joe's position, as wishy washy as it is, since from everything I've read, players have been using uppers/greenies/amphetamines since the 50's, and those aren't "legal". Since I also work in the pharmacuetical industry, if you can get it with a perscription, I don't consider it illegal, unless it's been bought illegally. The country is rife with pill pushing doctors, so the sudden outrage over guys finding docs who would give them perscriptions for steroids and hgh annoys me. I can't sell you a box of Sudafed without putting you in a database and no more then 3.6g because you might make home style meth out of it. On the other hand OxyContin is like getting ahold of candy in large parts of the midwest. Until the public and government want to deal with the entire problem, and not just faux outrage over baseball players using PED's, then more power to the guys who used the stuff before it was banned by the sport. ~steps off his tiny soapbox~

As for Simmons. I think he wants to move, but as of right now, he's only discontinuing his Mag columns, which I agree with him about. They want him to turn in the columns 7-10 days ahead of time. He's a (semi)topical writer, so that idea is just plain stupid. While he dislikes the constraints of ESPN, and his ego is huge enough to think he can survive without them, I'm willing to bet an unsure job market and the fact EPSN will throw a shitton money at him, will persuade him to stay. Unless Yahoo or AOL step up with $$ to try and run his own site and make the kind of money that he is at ESPN right now is silly. Bill is lazy, he doesn't want to, and wouldn't put in, the effort to make a site like that work. This guy isn't exactly Will Leitch. His own site would have a column like once a week and a podcast...and how many good podcasts would he get once his ESPN backing is gone? He isn't a Dan Patrick, building up a decade and a half long series of contacts. It would become Jack-O, Cousin Sal, Mike Lombardi, and a couple SI beat writers. I think his "empire" would go down in flames fast. In a situation like his, he's better off making someone else pay him to do the work he wants instead of trying to make money off it himself.

Bengoodfella said...

Kent, I thought a lot of the questions and responses were actually good. There is no way Joe was typing this today. They had a stand in, I will never believe it was him the entire time. I like the personal story about Andro and really if it is not illegal at the time it is being used, I see no reason why it should be factored into the HoF discussion.

As I said previously, both Glavine and Mussina admitted creatine use during their careers, which it is not illegal, it is just proof a lot of different guys used stuff like that.

Greenies and all of that type stuff did not start being used just a decade or two ago. It has been in the game a long time and I would bet even Joe Morgan took some, which may explain his position. There is nothing wrong with it, as long as it is not banned.

I like the outrage and you have a point in that if you get a drug with a prescription it should not be illegal. I don't know MLB's stance on that because I am sure there are some drugs that can be gotten with a scrip that are banned by MLB. I am just guessing on that one.

Simmons' magazine columns were generally useless and did not play to his strengths. I am glad he got rid of those. The SimmonsClones have a lot of pull and it really would not shock me if he could build up a great career free lancing and doing a Simmons site with podcasts and an article every once in a while. I may be wrong, but I think if he publicizes it enough it would work.

I do have to admit it may be harder for podcasts and other things like that to work without ESPN behind it. I think Bill could blog and write articles pretty well without ESPN backing. I think it is going to be hard for him to decide on what to do when his contract is up, but I would guess he is leaning towards going when the contract is done.

You do make a great point about him lacking contacts and all to make it work outside of ESPN but I don't know if that will prevent him and his ego from trying.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, I went ahead and got the league info so you can sign up for the Yahoo League if you like. If you hate the setup, just tell me. I am adjustable.

Edward said...

The Astros' series that was moved to Milwaukee was not against the Brewers, but rather the Cubs. And while the Cubs probably get a slightly greater advantage than the Brewers when playing in Milwaukee, even if the Astros had swept the Cubs, those wins would not have affected the Brewers' record.

Bengoodfella said...

Thanks Edward. I don't know why I assumed those games were against the Brewers. I remember that being controversial because it was against the Cubs who have an annoying, I mean loyal, fan base everywhere they go.

So essentially what you are saying is that the Astros still would not have gotten the Wild Card even if those games are moved...

ivn said...

"JM: Last year there was something about the Cubs personality of the team. There was something different. They were a fun team to watch. I enjoyed watching them. I enjoyed talking to them."

I call bullshit on this one...Joe Morgan has never liked the Cubs.

Chris W said...

Kind of obscure, but Bill's dad is a dead ringer for Richard Brautigan

Martin said...

I forgot to mention that Joe obviously hasn't paid attention to the whole Toronto trade situation either. (shocking I know) the Blue Jays went to Halladay before they announced anything and he said he'd be open to being traded to a contender. They almost had to, since he has a complete no-trade clause in his contract, and negotiating without his approval would have been stupid. Just ask the Padres, who do this thing ALL the time, trying to trade guys with no-trade, and thinking somehow public pressure is going to make the guys decide to leave.

I highly doubt that there are any problems in the Jays clubhouse over all this. Halladay might be a bit distracted, but hard feelings? Not a chance. He can very easily not be traded this season. He likes the club, the club likes him, and it's all been above board. From what I've read about Halladay, he's probably rooting for the Jays to get a lot back in return for him. It's not like the NBA where trading for a star is going to cripple your team, like the Bulls trying to trade for Kobe...and ending up looking just like the Lakers pre-Gasol.

Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, why do you say Joe Morgan has never liked the Cubs? Other than the fact he has a soft spot for the Astros and played for the Reds of course, which I would think would mean he doesn't like the Cubs that much naturally. Other than that, what makes you think that.

Chris, I don't even know who that guy is, so googled it. He was a writer who did a lot of black comedy and parody books. That is obscure. Good call on that, I think they are similar in that they both have bushy mustaches and the same look. I am not smart enough to get that one right.

That is very true as well Martin. Halladay can pretty much decide where he wants to go play and it is tough to get a pitcher (like the Padres know) who has that no trade to go anywhere they don't want to. I wish I had thought of that but the Blue Jays had to factor in that extra time to make sure they got Halladay's approval before they did anything.

I think of all the sports, trade rumors would affect pitchers in baseball the least. They only play once every 5 games and really they are involved with pitching, so the only real problem in the clubhouse would be with the front office trading away good players. It would be different if it was a position player. The Jays haven't had much luck with long term contracts and really this was coming at some point because they are bogged down with Rios and Wells' contract and play in the same division as the Rays, BoSox and Yankees. I think Joe overrates the effect this has in the clubhouse.