I’m sure that no one will be surprised that Joe told a story on Sunday Night Baseball that wasn’t exactly…uhm…true. What I found surprising was the utter implausibility of the lie he told, and how much it reveals about Joe Morgan. Here’s the quote:
I guess I can tell this story now, one of my great experiences when I was a young player. Don Wilson was pitching a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves. They had Orlando Cepeda, Rico Carty, Felipe Alou and Hank Aaron, of course. And they got to the ninth inning, he got two outs, no one on base, and Hank Aaron was the hitter. And in my infinite wisdom, I ran in to the mound. I said, "You know, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Hank Aaron walked right here. He said, "Get back to second base." I proceeded to go back to second base. He threw three fastballs right by Hank Aaron. No-hitter.
First off, this didn’t happen, as Deadspin points out. But even if it did happen, it’s still insane. First off, he told this story right after Cliff Lee lost his no-no on Sunday, that’s why Joe says “I guess I can tell this story now.” The idea behind stating “I guess I can tell this story now” is to indicate that he did not want to tell this story earlier for fear of jinxing Cliff Lee. As everyone knows, Joe Morgan believes in Voodoo, team chemistry, and the idea that if you look in a mirror and say “Dave Concepcion” 5 times he will appear in the Hall of Fame. What Joe Morgan does not believe, apparently, is the old baseball custom of not talking to your starting pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter, in the dugout, on the field, or anywhere else.
I’m not sure how much the traditional “silent treatment” plays into a pitchers’ ability to throw a no-hitter. Maybe it helps by keeping the pitcher in rhythm. Maybe it hurts by taking away emotional support. And maybe it does nothing. I don’t know.
What I do know is that this is standard baseball procedure. Moreover, I am quite certain that, having thrown 96% of a no-hitter, and facing Henry Aaron, the last thing that Don Wilson wanted was for his second baseman to walk over to the mound and advise him to walk Aaron. In fact, If I were throwing a no-hitter and had to get one more batter to complete the thing, and Joe Morgan walked over to the mound right before I was about to pitch to possibly the greatest hitter of all time, and gave me 1. bad baseball advice that 2. undercut my confidence, and 3. threw off my rhythm, I would punch Joe Morgan right in the face (with my non-throwing hand).
And, in keeping with Joe Morgan’s tradition of providing poor baseball analysis, walking Hank Aaron would have been a terrible idea. The Astros only led 2-0 at that point, and walking Aaron would have brought the tying run to the plate. No-hitters are nice, but the goal is still to win the game. So what did we learn?
1. Joe Morgan is still a liar.
2. Joe Morgan thinks that it’s more dangerous to “jinx” someone from the broadcast booth than it is to do so in person.
3. Joe Morgan didn’t even understand baseball when he played baseball.
Joe Morgan-land must be a strange and fascinating place.
1 hour ago