Joe Morgan’s Terrible Book: Part I

I’ve taken up the endeavour of critiquing a book called Baseball My Way. Why? It’s written by the namesake of our blogging idols, Joe Morgan. So far I’ve only managed to get through the appallingly written opening remarks. Here are some choice quotations: keep in mind this was published in 1976, the year after Joe won the National League MVP and the Big Red Machine won the greatest World Series of all time (Special K surely has bittersweet memories of the runner-up); astute followers of Joe and his ‘stache will note salient Joe-themes emerging already. Lessons learned from the first section of Baseball My Way:

1. Short, simple sentences with short, simple words are good.

2. Small ball is sweet.

I think the single item I enjoy above all others is our scoring without the team getting a base hit or being charged with an at-bat – as when, for example, I walk, steal second, get bunted over to third, and score on a sacrifice fly.

Joe indeed had the plate discipline and base-stealing ability to utilize this strategy. But it’s clear that he prefers this style of play to, you know, hitting home runs. Also, that’s two outs for a run. We are supposed to be comfortable with this exchange rate. Is this why the dollar is so weak?

3. Baseball is not the same as hockey.

4. His Most Valuable Player award was good for the game because he was such a complete player.

5. Joe is a hypocrite.

I feel everyone should learn to do as many things as possible, rather than confine himself to any one area. That goes not only for baseball but for life.

I guess that doesn’t include becoming educated about points of view different from your own – especially when they are backed up by evidence.

6. A player can help his team in many different ways. In order for a team to be good, it has to have players who get on base, players who can move people along, and players who can drive in runs.

Congratulations, you made a point and didn’t mess up horribly.

Others can learn to bunt and move runners along.

Never mind.

7. Players who are good fielders can help just by being good fielders and fielding their positions well.

So they field well is what you’re saying.

8. Joe Morgan foresaw the respective careers of Darin Erstad and David Eckstein. He unloads these next quotes in three separate, unrelated paragraphs.

When people ask me, “How can a little guy like yourself do so many things so well?” my answer is that baseball is a game of skill and not of strength and size. Baseball, more than any other sports, offers a place for the little guy.

In baseball, if a fellow works to do as many things as he possible can, his size doesn’t matter.

The MVP award in 1975 proved that there’s room for a 5-foot-7, 150-pounder in big league baseball.

9. Joe admires other players.

One of the people I admire is Willie Stargell, because of his consistency. To me, Stargell is the only real, legitimate home run hitter left.

I read this on June 25 2007, a week after Sammy Sosa hit his 600th home run. Barry Bonds might be in St. Louis next week when he hits career home run 755 (please please please please). There are about eight others within striking distance of 500.

Steve Garvey is another player I admire because of his consistency.

Joe likes the word consistent. It’s his bliss.

I admire Lou Brock for his endurance.

I admire Lou Brock for his supreme overratedness. And his delectable, ivory-skinned trophy wife.

And he’s got to have a shout-out for the other cogs in the Big Red Machine.

Another player I admire is Tony Perez who, to me, is the best clutch hitter in the game today. Having played with Perez, I think he’s more consistent in the clutch than any player I’ve ever seen.

I admire Johnny Bench for his natural ability.

I admire Pete Rose and his desire to excel, his determination always to do a good job.

Tom Seaver is admirable just for being himself.

You ran out of things to say, didn’t you?

I admired Bob Gibson, the greatest competitor I’ve ever seen or played against on a baseball field.

I like this one for some reason . . . .

10. Joe’s pre-game ritual often included three hours of fielding practice and a nap in the clubhouse.

Okay, after the Cardinals beat the Mutts, I must read the section where Joe teaches us how to field. God help us all.

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