Friday, August 26, 2005

Joe Morgan is a Moron and I Hate Him

Does Joe Morgan's wardrobe make you want to watch 'Boogie Nights'?
--From Bill Simmons

Baseball post today. No poker here. Move along.

As an Oakland A's fan--and by "fan," I mean completely obsessed--I am now almost immune to the vast sea of Luddites who fail to grasp even the most simple concepts contained in "Moneyball," Michael Lewis' excellent examination of the small budget A's and their GM Billy Beane (who, admittedly, comes off as EXTREMELY arrogant in the book and is therefore a natural target from the baseball establishment).

I have come across some inane arguments AGAINST the A's philosophy (or what people believe to be their philosophy), but some stand out, like Jeff Gordon, an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch whose "review" of the book--which he did not read--consisted of quoting snippets of online anonymous reader comments at Or the demented ramblings of John Popper (pre-gastric bypass) look-a-like and Rocky Mountain News columnist Tracey Ringolsby, who wonders why such a wonderful system hasn't yet won a World Series title?

Baseball is all about the Old Guard, Protectors of the Game's Traditions (like keeping the whole steroid thing on the down-low) and Beane and Co. are undoubtedly up to something different. Not that these knuckle-draggers can divine what it is. It's not about OBP. It's not about walks. It's about money (Note to critics: The title is important). It's about maximizing your resources, exploiting holes in the marketplace, because you can't win an Arms Race with the $200 million payroll clubs. The A's are FORCED to do things differently based on economic imbalance in the game. And dim-witted "baseball" people, who've followed, swallowed and regurgitated the game's historic and inefficient philosophies, are threatened by that.

None more than Joe Morgan. I could go on and on and on about how he has something of a vendetta against Beane's A's, something that may or may not have anything to do with "Moneyball," which, he admits he has not read. See, Little Joe was part of a group that attempted to buy the A's back in the 90s. Selig and MLB pretty much shut that down (to my everlasting relief) as part of their crusade to remove the A's from Oakland--and perhaps baseball--entirely.

ANYWAY, I can't begin to describe the myriad instances where Morgan has completely mis-represented the contents of Moneyball, the realities of the A's organization and, indeed, contradicted actions occurring right before his eyes on the field of play. I will, however, give you the greatest article ever written (if this kind of thing interests you; if not People Online has a big Brad-Jen spread this week):

Say It Ain't So, Joe
Why does Joe Morgan -- the best second baseman in history and a prominent TV broadcaster -- hate Moneyball? And Billy Beane and his Oakland A's? And you, too, if you think the statistical revolution that's overwhelmed Major League Baseball has any merit.


At 10:17 PM, Blogger BigPirate said...

Thanks for the link. I was a Big Red Machine fan in the day and a huge Morgan fan, but his insufferable comments have soured me.

The A's have discovered a way to put a competitive team on the field most every year without winning the WS, becoming perhaps the second most infuriating team in the sport to their fans. Perhaps Morgan should acknowledge the obvious that moneyball tactics enable smaller market teams to compete consistently but then point out that championship teams require a bit more, an element undefinable by "computer nerds." To do that though, he would have to read the book. Until then, he will just be an unfortuante ass.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger jremotigue said...

Wait. You mean Billy Beane didn't write Moneyball? That's what I get for taking Joe Morgan's literature class.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i need to come clean about a few things...

1) Moneyball sits unread on my bookshelf. it's been there over 12 months for sure.

2) Joe Morgan is, IMHO, the best color commmentator that MLB currently has.

3) Joe Morgan was an Astro.

#3 probably effects #2. #1 is b/c i am a slacker.

but i do agree with all that i have read about Moneyball, which is to say that in a game that pits teams of unequal resources against each other, obviously SABREmatics is a tool that works for some.

poor old Joe. i still like him though....


At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sunday's NY Times (registration required) has an article on the collision of the old and new guards in baseball (particularly Tony La Russa).

i read Moneyball on sunday and as expected found it an excellent read. while i do enjoy many facets of Joe Morgan's commentary, i find it hard to believe his position regarding this book.

coming from a business/IT background i still posit that any team that shuns any of the SABRmetric tools cannot be as efficient at winning as teams who accept their value.

thanks for a great post Joe; it prodded me into finally reading Lewis' great book!


At 9:57 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The Twins were/are the same way. Forced to continually bring up fresh rookies who can play and ship em off due to free agency 3-4 years after their rookie contracts are up.

That and Pollad won't die. Ever.

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe Morgan's the best color commentator?

He isn't even the best COLORED commentator. Tony Gwynn, in only part-time duty, takes those honors.

I guess it could be argued that Tony Gwynn is about as colored as me, but that's another discussion for another day.

"What he wants to do here is look for a pitch he can hit."

--Joe Morgan

Well no shit, Sherlock. Here I was, like a moron, thinking that he was looking for a pitch that he could stick his nuts in front of.

At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to agree with your synopsis of Joe Morgan after watching the Braves/Tigers telecast Sunday night. Not only does he contribute very little in the way of colour commentary but he DOES have the worst habit of stating the obvious as if somehow he alone can divine such hidden baseball nuances such as "what the pitcher wants to do here is get the batter out", or "he didn't want to pop out for the third time in a row". Morgan might as well be reciting the game to his four year old grandchild for all the insight or wisdom he's imparting to the listener.

At 7:52 PM, Blogger David said...

IDIOT! Joe Morgan is pure trash and is terrible for baseball. He patronizes all you understand the game and adds little insight with his commentary. I hate his condescending voice.


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