Hey, did you know that Joe Morgan played for the Cincinnati Reds in 1975? No, really he did. Seriously. He was the NL MVP, too. His manager was Sparky Anderson. They even won the World Series! And they did it again '76!
Amazing stuff, huh? And all true. Thought I should remind you of all these things, you know, in case you didn't hear Morgan himself mention them approximately 1,975 times during ESPN's Red Sox-Cubs telecast tonight. Not that I'm suggesting he'd rather talk about his own career than the game at hand, but if there was a drinking game where you had to take a sip every time Morgan mentioned his own playing days, years from now historians would be telling us about the Great Beer Shortage of 2005.
I suppose I could deal with his regurgitated 30-year-old anecdotes a little better if he weren't so blantantly unprepared for the real, live game he's getting paid to analyze. As usual, Morgan spent the telecast spewing his usual array of ignorant, obvious and stunningly idiotic opinions. Sometimes I wonder if he has watched a Red Sox game in its entirety since the 1975 World Series. Example: Asking a visbily annoyed Terry Francona why Jason Varitek wasn't catching Tim Wakefield tonight. Anyone who has rudimentary knowledge of the Sox knows Doug Mirabelli catches Knucksie. Joe, see those game notes there in front of you? It's okay to read them sometimes. Really.
Morgan's other intensely aggravating specialty is his knack for telling the viewer exactly what pitch was just thrown. Not only is it plainly obvious to the average viewer when, say, a fastball or a curve was just delivered, but Morgan's pitch fixation is somewhat less than useful with Wakefield on the mound.
Sample dialogue from Morgan to play-by-play man Jon Miller tonight: "That was a knuckler, Jon . . . Jon, that was a knuckler . . . Wakefield is really relying on his knuckler tonight, Jon . . . Jon, when I was the MVP of the World Champion Reds in 1975, we didn't have a pitcher who threw a knuckler, Jon . . . There's another knuckler, Jon . . . Jon, why are you weeping? . . . Jon, did you see that knuckler? . . . Don't cry, Jon . . . Pete Rose never cried, Jon . . . "
Okay, so I made that up. But it could easily be true, and that's frightening. I know I'm not the only one rooting for him to suffer a career-threatening bout of laryngitis. My cousin Kris The White Sox Fan stopped waxing and buffing his LaMarr Hoyt Commemorative Coin Collection long enough to send along a few examples of Morgan's clueless attempts at wisdom tonight:
"A superstar is a superstar and they can't be replaced by replacements."
"I don't believe in conspiracy theories, Jon, unless there's a lot of proof."
"As a hitter, you mature all the time."
"That was a fastball, in the middle of the plate, in, and down."
With such depth of knowledge and insight, it's really no wonder Morgan's the "expert" affiliated with the "Baseball for Dummies" book. The only way the partnership could be more appropriate if it was called "1975 Cincinnati Reds for Dummies, by a Dummy"
Every time I hear Morgan (or his Fox counterpart, the Antichrist going by the pseudonym "Tim McCarver") attempt to offer analysis on the Red Sox, I appreciate Jerry Remy even more.
Not that we are entirely devoid of vapid announcers here in Boston. Yeah, that means you, Jerry Trupiano. Three suggestions that would make the Trupe Experience more enjoyable for us listeners:
1) Shut up about the St. Louis Cardinals already. Yes, we know you grew up in St. Louis. Yes, we know you idolize Jack Buck. Yes, we know Scott Rolen might be the best defensive third baseman ever, though we're still trying to figure out how you segued to that topic during an at-bat by Neifi Perez of the Cubs the other day. Yes, we knew the Cardinals scored two in the third to take a 3-2 lead over the Astros. You told us last inning, and the inning before, and also the inning before that, and . . . Hey, wait a minute. Who were you rooting for in the World Series, anyway?
2) Tell us the truth about what's happening on the field. I'll believe it once a game, maybe twice. But when you break into your "There's a DRIVE . . . deep left center . . . WAY BACK . . ." routine, only to have the ball fall harmlessly into an outfielder's glove a fungo short of the warning track, well, consider me skeptical when you justify the brutal call by claiming EVERY SINGLE TIME that the batter hit it "Down off the end of the bat." Seems to me you just misjudged the ball, or worse, tried to create drama where there wasn't any. Just once, I'd love hear you say, "Man, I blew that one, Joe. Thought it was headed for Landsdowne Street." To which Joe will surely reply, "Huh? . . . Landsdowne Street? . . . oh, uh, yeah . . . better call 1-800-54-GIANT, Jerry."
3) Get a job with Cardinals. Go ahead. Chase your dream. We'll be fine here, honest. RemDawg can do double duty. You'll be happy, and so will my steering wheel, which has grown weary of absorbing my punches when you slaughter another call.
As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:
"I played for the Houston Astros? Really? For real? Huh. I don't recall that, Jon. I do remember playing for the Cincinnati Reds in 1975. Have I ever told you about that, Jon? Sparky Anderson was the manager, and I . . . "