BOOKCLUB - Long Balls, No Strike (by Joe Morgan)
I've taken my share of heat throughout my baseball career, as a player and as an executive. People throughout baseball were amazed that a man of my natural athletic gifts and uncanny baseball instincts could fail to develop into a major league ballplayer. People were amazed when I, a life-long athlete, decided to continue my post-player career in baseball as a front office official. And, as anyone that's heard about Michael Lewis' Moneyball knows, people are amazed at my supposed arrogance and cockiness when it comes to being a General Manager. In case you haven't tired of such talk (like I have), here is an excerpt from yet another article that takes me to task for my supposed failings:
"The Oakland A's are in last place in the AL West division, laptops and all. This past winter, Beane traded his two ace pitchers, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, in return for surprisingly unremarkable young players. The 2005 season was to be seen as the turning point that would either prove Beane's genius for spotting talent or reveal a naked emperor. Call a tailor. Oakland is in a free fall that suggests Beane merely rode his best pitchers to achieve the A's recent successes."
It's nice to see that receiving an Ivy League education is as much a sign of actual intelligence as an SAT score or zipping your fly. Even analysts with more hair than common sense could look at the players moved in those two trades and intuit that these moves were made for the years beyond 2005. Judging the success of these trades on approximately 3 months' worth of baseball is the same as judging a marriage a success or failure after 36 hours. I've been public to a fault about calling this year in Oakland "a rebuilding year". While there have been plenty of struggles (and many pieces of broken furniture to accompany these struggles), the A's are now in a better position for the future than they would have been with both Hudson (currently hurt) and Mulder (currently the 4th best pitcher in the St. Louis rotation) in green and gold. The fact that various SABR-friendly writers decided to pick me as the AL West representative says more about my track record of success than any sort of hubris on my part. But if you listen to almost anyone that passes themselves off as an expert, they'll say the same thing that Tim Mosso says (though probably using less metaphors, and smaller words). Worse yet, they'll say the sorts of unsubstantiated nonsense respected E$PN mouthbreather Joe Morgan has been saying since Moneyball hit the New York Times Bestseller List.
To be honest, I couldn't care less about what Joe Morgan or anyone as intellectually challenged as him thinks about me, my aims and goals, or "my book," and I'll be damned if I'm going to give him the satisfaction of quoting his blather in this column. One paragraph of garbage is enough for one day, I think. Lewis, in the afterword of the paperback version of Moneyball, undoutbedly said everything I could think to say in regards to this ridiculous grudge Joe, or anyone else, has against me and the way I do my job. For what it's worth, Lewis also said such things in a nicer way than I'd be able to manage.
It would be nice if pundits and thinkers actually did research on a topic before they went off on fact-free tirades about that topic, but in a world where spurious soundbytes reign supreme over the truth, and talk show hosts are hired because of their volume and not their convictions, it's not surprising. It would also be nice if people weren't so dead set on being right that they close their mind to any notion antithetically opposed to how they think, but people are naturally resistant to change, and there's no better example of this resistance than in baseball.
I had no idea Joe actually wrote a book aside from the appropriately titled Baseball For Dummies. No doubt anyone that's experienced the stink-ridden hot air Joe pushes between his flapping lips on a daily basis knows that he's ridiculously overqualified to write that book. But thanks to the generosity of E$PN and their foisting of Joe Morgan on the hapless baseball-viewing public of the world, Joe got another chance to hold court on the game he supposedly loves. And, of course, befitting Joe's antiquated approach to baseball analysis, the game he loves is the game he played. In Long Balls, No Strike, Joe advocates for a higher pitching mound, more aggressive baserunning, and the removal of the DH - the sorts of suggestions you'd expect from a man who played in the National League for his entire career. He also holds court in regards to revenue sharing and various managerial strategies. However, it's what Joe talks about away from the actual game on the field that is truly interesting.
No doubt the chapter where he tears Jon Miller a new one (titled "Stupid Fat Bald Men Shouldn't Leave The House") will surprise readers - it's not too shocking, though. If my broadcast partner of umpteen years took me to task week after week about the ridiculous nonsense I'd spit out between pitches, I'd be pretty upset, too. Also shocking was his revelation about his hatred for Davey Concepcion, and how his constant lobbying for Concepcion's entry into Hall of Fame is merely a result of some dirty pictures Concepcion took involving Joe, a Stretch Armstrong doll, and Marv Albert. There's also his heartfelt confession regarding his addiction to "players coffee", and how his addiction lead to that spastic chicken-flap in his batting stance.
Stories like this abound in Long Balls. Joe on having a .392 career OBP fueled by multiple 100 walk seasons as a player, and being a vocal and vehement anti-walk advocate as a broadcaster - "I feel so ashamed for what I've been saying about walks on TV, but I can't change my ways now. People just eat it up like potato chips! People like potato chips! It's all I can do to stay sober sometimes." On Pete Rose - "He lost me $1,500,000 on the 1988 World Series. I had to hock my MVP trophies just to pay off the vig. I can never forgive him for that." On the Game 6 of the 1975 World Series - "I was so stoned, I don't even remember if I was wearing a jock strap." On Linda Cohn - "She has dumps like a truck, thighs like what, and lips that go all night long. I won't go and say she flashed that thong like Monica Lewinski, but I can tell you that I had a nice long look at her field of dreams through that bathroom peephole." And so on.
Now, please note, I haven't actually read the book. My busy schedule as General Manager of the Oakland A's doesn't allow me much time to do any leisurely reading - as a matter of fact, I'm writing this post (on my laptop, Mosso!) in a bathroom stall. Time, after all, is a precious commodity in baseball. Also, there's a certain poetic justice to be had in writing about a Joe Morgan book while on the crapper. Anyway, I've seen Joe on TV enough, and I've read way too many of his Insider articles, so I can safely call myself a Joe Morgan expert, and sound off on what the book discusses from an informed position, which I've done.
Clearly, Long Balls, No Strike longs to be a modern day Ball Four / Hollywood Babylon - a book that shakes the game to its very core, and reveals the dark and dangerous side of hero worship. Unlike those books, where a naivete cultivated by the industry in question and the support system around that industry was shown to be a sham, Joe's book is nothing more than shameless ego stroking. He brags about his omnisexual exploits with the sort of revolting candor that would shame a porn star. His wanton abuse of all types of substances, and the lavish descriptions he awards this debauchery, borders on inhumane and is clearly a cry for help. Honestly, the fact that E$PN - a subsidiary of the family-friendly Disney corporation - continues to employ such a waste of a human being as a baseball ambassador boggles my mind.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to wipe, flush, and make a motherf*cker of a trade so the A's can be in position next year - or even this year - to win yet another low-cost post-season berth. Say hi to my middle finger, Joe.
Billy Beane, a former first round draft pick of the New York Mets, is the General Manager of the Oakland A's. He did not write Moneyball, Joe. Joe Morgan's Long Balls, No Strike was available in bookstores in 1999, and might still be available, if you're interested and have the need to spend money like Richard Pryor in Brewster's Millions.