Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Joe Morgan Still Sucks

Joe Morgan Still Sucks

Not foreseeing how rich a source of material the corrupt Bush administration would actually provide, I began this blog last October explaining what a disaster of a baseball announcer is Joe Morgan. It is painful to listen to him “analyze” ESPN games of the week, but I do so because his partner, Jon Miller, is the best that ever was.

Morgan probably will never figure out, even after 18 years in the booth with him, that Miller is slyly telling the audience what a bozo he was teamed with.

Last Sunday night, with men on first and third, the pitcher stepped toward third, faked a throw and then wheeled, hopped up and faked to first trying to catch the runner napping off base.

It is a common enough little deception, which I call “the play that never works” because it never works past high school ball. It is designed, really, to keep the base runners honest and to give the pitcher a break when he can’t decide which pitch not to throw.

But Morgan went ape-shit claiming the pitcher got away with a balk. (You non-baseball people are already long gone, but the rest of you may wish to stay.)

Morgan, a Hall of Famer, had to have seen this play hundreds of times in his life, and he ought to know the fucking rules. (Let me rephrase; he ought to know the baseball rules.)

There are, admittedly, 13 ways to balk, that is to deceive the runner by making an illegal motion while the pitcher’s foot is in contact with the rubber. You are allowed to fake a throw to any base except first, so when the pitcher Sunday night faked to third, he was fine. The replay clearly showed that as he wheeled around to first, his foot came off the rubber. When a pitcher is not touching the rubber, he can stand on his head and spit nickels if he wants to and it is not a balk.

Morgan apparently does not know this, which is a shame because he stole 689 bases in his career, 11th most of anyone who ever played the game.

As Miller gently explained that the pitcher was off the rubber, Morgan, like the Republican I think he is, refused to back down. He just said something like “we could discuss this one for a long time..”

No you can’t, you miserable drooling moron! Not if you read the rule book!

Rule 8.05(c) Comment: Requires the pitcher, while touching his plate, to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base. If a pitcher turns or spins off of his free foot without actually stepping or if he turns his body and throws before stepping, it is a balk.
A pitcher is to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base but does not require him to throw (except to first base only) because he steps. It is possible, with runners on first and third, for the pitcher to step toward third and not throw, merely to bluff the runner back to third; then seeing the runner on first start for second, turn and step toward and throw to first base. This is legal. However, if, with runners on first and third, the pitcher, while in contact with the rubber, steps toward third and then immediately and in practically the same motion “wheels” and throws to first base, it is obviously an attempt to deceive the runner at first base, and in such a move it is practically impossible to step directly toward first base before the throw to first base, and such a move shall be called a balk. Of course, if the pitcher steps off the rubber and then makes such a move, it is not a balk.
(d) The pitcher, while touching his plate, throws, or feints a throw to an unoccupied base, except for the purpose of making a play;
(e) The pitcher makes an illegal pitch;
Rule 8.05(e) Comment: A quick pitch is an illegal pitch. Umpires will judge a quick pitch as one delivered before the batter is reasonably set in the batter’s box. With runners on base the penalty is a balk; with no runners on base, it is a ball. The quick pitch is dangerous and should not be permitted.
(f) The pitcher delivers the ball to the batter while he is not facing the batter;
(g) The pitcher makes any motion naturally associated with his pitch while he is not touching the pitcher’s plate;
(h) The pitcher unnecessarily delays the game;
Rule 8.05(h) Comment: Rule 8.05(h) shall not apply when a warning is given pursuant to Rule 8.02(c) (which prohibits intentional delay of a game by throwing to fielders not in an attempt to put a runner out). If a pitcher is ejected pursuant to Rule 8.02(c) for continuing to delay the game, the penalty in Rule 8.05(h) shall also apply. Rule 8.04 (which sets a time limit for a pitcher to deliver the ball when the bases are unoccupied) applies only when there are no runners on base.
(i) The pitcher, without having the ball, stands on or astride the pitcher’s plate or while off the plate, he feints a pitch;
(j) The pitcher, after coming to a legal pitching position, removes one hand from the ball other than in an actual pitch, or in throwing to a base;
(k) The pitcher, while touching his plate, accidentally or intentionally drops the ball;
(l) The pitcher, while giving an intentional base on balls, pitches when the catcher is not in the catcher’s box;
(m)The pitcher delivers the pitch from Set Position without coming to a stop.
PENALTY: The ball is dead, and each runner shall advance one base without liability to be put out, unless the batter reaches first on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter, or otherwise, and all other runners advance at least one base, in which case the play proceeds without reference to the balk.
APPROVED RULING: In cases where a pitcher balks and throws wild, either to a base or to home plate, a runner or runners may advance beyond the base to which he is entitled at his own risk.
APPROVED RULING: A runner who misses the first base to which he is advancing and who is called out on appeal shall be considered as having advanced one base for the purpose of this rule. Rule 8.05 Comment: Umpires should bear in mind that the purpose of the balk rule is to prevent the pitcher from deliberately deceiving the base runner. If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the “intent” of the pitcher should govern. However, certain specifics should be borne in mind:
(a) Straddling the pitcher’s rubber without the ball is to be interpreted as intent to deceive and ruled a balk.
(b) With a runner on first base the pitcher may make a complete turn, without hesitating toward first, and throw to second. This is not to be interpreted as throwing to an unoccupied base.

Speaking of the rule book, for the one that stymies most people, here is the Infield Fly Rule.

An INFIELD FLY is a fair fly ball (not including a line drive nor an attempted bunt) which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort, when first and second, or first, second and third bases are occupied, before two are out. The pitcher, catcher and any outfielder who stations himself in the infield on the play shall be considered infielders for the purpose of this rule.
When it seems apparent that a batted ball will be an Infield Fly, the umpire shall immediately declare “Infield Fly” for the benefit of the runners. If the ball is near the baselines, the umpire shall declare “Infield Fly, if Fair.”
The ball is alive and runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught, or retouch and advance after the ball is touched, the same as on any fly ball. If the hit becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul.
If a declared Infield Fly is allowed to fall untouched to the ground, and bounces foul before passing first or third base, it is a foul ball. If a declared Infield Fly falls untouched to the ground outside the baseline, and bounces fair before passing first or third base, it is an Infield Fly.
Rule 2.00 (Infield Fly) Comment: On the infield fly rule the umpire is to rule whether the ball could ordinarily have been handled by an infielder—not by some arbitrary limitation such as the grass, or the base.

Now you know.


  1. Anonymous2:02 PM

    My god Ira. Your criticism of Joe Morgan is completely off-base. It stems from such a narrow mindset and a complete non-understanding of the baseball rules. Your lack of progressive vision amazes me.

    The Rules of Baseball are a living, breathing document.

    There is no way that the Rules Committee could foresee every single situation that develops in a contemporary major league baseball game. The rules must be interpreted to fit the situation to arrive at the proper outcome and certainly not applied exactly as written.

    If Joe Morgan feels that it’s a balk and it’s unfair to the baserunner, then you must give great weight to his opinion. After all, Morgan has been inducted in to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and you and I have not. He knows more about how the rules should be applied than the people who wrote them, being that only one person out of the nine men on the Rules Committee has been elected to the Hall.

    If Morgan feels it’s unfair, then it’s unfair, and a balk should be called by the umpires.

    We know this to be true because we have precedent. In the Case of Brett v. Martin (1983) decided unanimously by Lee MacPhail (father of Andy MacPhail, currently on the rules committee) we learned how a strict construction of the rules as written we unfair.

    The fact situation was thus:
    -- Brett hits home run off of Goose Gossage
    -- Billy Martin points out to the arbiters that the bat used by Brett for said home run contained excessive pine tar, and was thus ineligible for use in the game.
    -- Arbiters refer to rule 1.10 (c) (as it was written in 1983) and determine that the bat was indeed ineligible. Arbiters then apply rule 6.06 (as it was written in 1983) which clearly stated that use of an ineligible bat would cause the batter to be out for illegal action.
    -- Arbiters rule Brett out according to a strict construction of the rules, and disallow home run.
    -- New York Yankees declared winners of the game.

    But wait! We can’t allow this to happen! Remember, it’s our job to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable! The outcome was so unfair, because it meant that the Yankees, you know, those damn YANKEES would win the game!!!

    So the appeals division (American League President Lee MacPhail (father of rules committee member Andy MacPhail)) decided that the “spirit” of the rule should be followed, rather than the actual “strict construction” of the rules as they were written. MacPhail ruled that Brett’s home run should stand, fules 1.10 and 6.06 notwithstanding. Royals win, 5-4.

    The case was subsequently appealed (See Steinbrenner v. MacPhail 1983) but the outcome was upheld in favor of Brett.

    Based upon this precedent, it is clear that the Rules of Baseball should NOT be strictly constructed as written, but subject of interpretation based upon the desired fairness of the outcome. You need a more progressive attitude, you need to think outside the box more often. If Joe Morgan says it’s a balk, hey dude, it’s a balk. It’s more fair that way.

    The Rules of Baseball are a living, breathing document.

  2. Nice try, and quite amusing. But we are talking apples and oranges; curveballs and screwballs; lollipops and roses -- except to the extent your analogy gives credence to the legal profession’s near-unanimous opinion that Gore v. Bush, the 2000 sanctioned theft of an election, was the most abhorrent piece of jurisprudence since Dred Scott and the worst application of law since Salem. ("Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities.")

    Rules are rules, and when they conflict they ought to be appealable. In the Brett case, the facts were clear and there was a violation of rules. American League President Lee McPhail decided the outcome was more important than the rules.

    As did the 2000 Supreme Court decision. In fact, American League President Lee McPhail, as wrong as he was, made a more cogent argument than the Supreme Court: ("Games should be won and lost on the playing field - not through technicalities of the rules.") Each case was decided not on its merits or applicability to the generic but on the whim of “the decider.”

    Having now succumbed to arguing what you want to argue, let me return to my original point. I don’t hold a brief for or against the various balk rules, but I submit that a Hall of Famer and a long-time broadcaster should know the rules.

    The Brett case was a travesty, all right, but it didn’t result in widescale death, torture and the destruction of the country.