Who is Going to Win?
In February of this year I got a chance to be on Baseball Tonight. They asked me to pick 3 teams who I thought had the best pitching staff’s. I chose, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and St. Louis. But I went a step further. I told them that those teams also were my picks to win their divisions. We will see how if they come out on top.
Now it is your turn. You tell me who you choose and why. Not some long explanation. Just a sentence or two about the 3 teams you pick. Cool?
Although I did not see the play and don’t know the history involved here. There was clearly someone who was wrong.
From my view it appears that the Marlins took exception to Mr. Morgan’s collision at the plate with catcher Brett Hayes. What I can’t understand though is why the Marlins feel as though the play was uncalled for.
Catchers of all people should know that if they are anywhere near home plate then they become a target. Middle infielders get attacked all the time and they seem to do a good job of getting out-of-the-way. I believe that Mr. Hayes needs to make sure that he is not putting himself in a situation that can get him hurt. The reality is that if Mr. Hayes clear the plate, this wouldn’t happen.
If the Marlins believe that Mr. Hayes was completely correct with being close to the plate, then someone in the Marlins Baseball Operations Department needs to have a stern talking to. Fundamentals were lost on this play. Not a fundamental that deals with ability, but a fundamental that should be taught and reinforced so that this situation never shows up. But the Marlins took exception to Mr. Morgan’s play.
The Marlins decided to hit Mr. Morgan later in the game and Mr. Morgan trotted down to first base. From the information I have seen and been given, Mr. Morgan took that as retaliation for tackling the catcher and excepted his punishment regardless if it was warranted.
Mr. Morgan then stole 2 bases when the score was 14-3 in the 4th inning. From my understanding, the Marlins were holding him on and even if they weren’t, there is no problem in this situation for him to steal those bases. There are no rules about stealing when a team is down 11 runs in the 4th. The fact that the Marlins were holding him on proves that they to have no problem with him stealing. As a rule of thumb, if a team holds you on, you play.
As far as I’m concerned, the issue had been taken care of even though the Marlins didn’t have a real case to hit Mr. Morgan in the first place. If anyone should have been hit, it was the person who failed to teach catcher, Brett Hayes about the proper fundamentals and understanding of that play. If I was a Marlin I would have been yelling at someone about how baseball is taught in the organization.
The situation was not over in the eyes of the Marlins though. Mr. Volstad decided to throw another ball at Mr. Morgan. But there was no reason to do so. Not only that, Mr. Volstad threw a fastball at least a foot behind Mr. Morgan. This is a sign of a pitcher who has not been taught how to play the game properly and has now counter attacked Mr. Morgan after the situation should have been over.
Fundamental baseball retaliation says that you should never throw a ball behind a guy. The reason? Because that is cowardly. It shows a pitcher who is afraid to hit a batter and he is simply making a veiled attempt to protect his team. If I were manager of the Marlins, I would have called Volstad into my office and sternly yelled at him to HIT THE BATTER! YOU THINK PROTECTING YOUR TEAMMATES IS MISSING A GUY? Of course I also would have yelled at him and the rest of the team for throwing at Morgan in the first and second place.
Next, Mr. Morgan charged the mound only to see Volstad who threw his glove down and then didn’t put up his hands to protect himself. What is going on in the Marlins system? Do they not teach pitchers to put their fists up? As a result of the organization not teaching this, Volstad gets hit in the face because there was nothing to block Mr. Morgan’s fist from making contact.
The fight ensues and people are ejected.
As Mr. Morgan walks off the field, he decides to raise his hands up and interacts with the crowd. What are you doing? This is no time to celebrate! If I am the manager of the Nationals I would pull you into the office and yell at you for being a classless little kid. This isn’t some show! If you get into a fight then you fight and it is over. Don’t throw your hands up like some belligerent jerk. In that one-act you showed that this was not about baseball, it was about you. That is not team baseball and if it isn’t team baseball then it shouldn’t be tolerated. Grow up.
Finally, I have found that the most blame needs to go to Major League Baseball. Just like most in our society, the league thinks that the avoidance of pain is a better lesson then allowing pain. When did we decide to protect our kids from learning important lessons? This is a problem.
The league has forced the umpires to make immediate warnings even if they aren’t needed. The league believes that this will exhaust the problem, but it only frustrates the players and the forces the umpires to take heat when they are just doing what they are told from the league.
The other byproduct of not letting teams hit guys is that players no longer know when to hit a guy or why to hit a guy. In the Marlins situation, they started a “Snowball fight” because they didn’t teach their catcher how to protect himself. There is a clear way to hit a player and it has to do with a combination of a lot more than the guy you want to be at the plate.
If you want to hit a guy, there has to be 2 outs and your team is winning by more than 4 runs. The pitcher then throws a 4 seamed fastball and tries to hit the batters ribs. NOT THE HEAD AND NOT THE LEG. The head is dangerous and the leg is cowardly.
MLB needs to teach teams when to hit a guy if the teams don’t know how to. The answer is not to start warning everyone. There is too much pressure out there to add more frustration with a warning.
Stop trying to avoid pain.
I find the Florida Marlins guilty of doing so many things wrong that it is unavoidable. The organization is not teaching their players how to play the game correctly.
Mr. Morgan, although you were in the right to charge the mound, you failed as an honorable baseball player. This game is not about you. It is about winning baseball games. I am embarrassed that you think it is ok to interact with the crowd that way. You embarrassed all Major League Baseball players with your actions. It’s time to act like a man, handle your business, and keep your mouth shut. Play to win.
I am embarrassed today with what we have shown fans. Once again, due to an avoidance of pain, baseball has shown that they are acting like spoiled rich kids. We have an obligation to teach the game of baseball with honor. This is not honor. This is lack of leadership.
I sentence all parties to sit in front of a mirror with a dictionary. Your first punishment is to look up the words honor and character. You are then to face the mirror and say those definitions into the mirror so that you can talk to yourself. Sit there and think. Repeat the definitions if you have to but don’t get up until those words have been planted in your heart.
This court is adjourned. I am going for a run right now because I am so upset and embarrassed.
All Rise! Judge Ensberg Presiding!
Judge Mo: You may be seated. Florida Marlins, what seems to be the problem here?
Marlins: Your honor. On September 1, 2010, Mr. Morgan charged the mound and a bench clearing brawl ensued. We believe that this was uncalled for.
Judge: Ok. Mr. Morgan? Please tell me what happened.
Morgan: Judge Mo, it is really simple. In the previous game I hit their catcher on a play at the plate and he got hurt.
Judge: Were you out?
Judge: Could you have slid?
Judge: OK. Go on.
Morgan: The next game, I was hit on purpose and took my base.
Judge: Did you say anything or look at them in any way that would be considered aggressive?
Morgan: No your honor. They were paying me back because I hurt their catcher. I jogged down to 1st base.
Morgan: After that I stole second base and then third base.
Judge: What was the inning and score?
Morgan: It was the 4th inning and the score was 14-3.
Judge: Then what happened?
Morgan: Later on in the game I Volstad threw a ball behind me.
Judge: He threw the ball behind you? It wasn’t at you?
Morgan: No. The ball missed me by a foot. But I just dropped my bat and helmet and charged him.
Judge: Ok. So the ball was thrown behind you and you charged the mound. Did you hit Mr. Volstad?
Morgan: I did your honor. I hit him with a left right in the face. It was a good shot. Right after I connected, I was clothes lined and tackled by the Marlins team.
Judge: Alright. Marlins. Why did Mr. Volstad throw behind Mr. Morgan?
Marlins: Your honor. We feel like all of Mr. Morgan’s actions of hitting our catcher and then stealing bases led to another “beaning.”
Judge: Alright. I think I have an understanding of what went on. I will adjourn and ask the jury here at Morgan Ensberg’s Baseball IQ what they think. They have really helped me so it is their turn to chime in. Below is a poll. I will submit my summary when 100 people vote. Understood? Good.
Bailiff: All RISE!
In our first section we will review analogies.
1. Dietary Pills are to Amphetamines as Weight Gainers are to _______________.
B. Something that makes your skull grow
C. Jaguar Testosterone
E. All of the Above
2. Prepared Statements from Your Agent is to Genuine as Ronnie Paulino is to _________________.
E. All of the Above
Read the following passage and answer the next questions either True or False.
”I accept full responsibility and all consequences for this mistake, and therefore choose not to challenge my suspension,” the 29-year-old Paulino said. ”I was irresponsible for failing to take all precautionary steps in confirming the approval of the dietary pill. Without a doubt, I have learned from my mistake.”
1. Ronnie Paulino uses the word precautionary all the time.
2. Ronnie Paulino is a catcher who plays half his games in Miami where the average temperature is 95 degrees and humid, but still requires a dietary pill.
In this final section, please write what you would say if you were caught the second time with a PED (Dietary Pill).
I am calling you here today because I messed up. I tried to cheat the rules and I was caught. The drug I used was an amphetamine and I use it to wake me up. I know that it is illegal and my career could be over. I was stupid. As you know we only get 50 game suspensions for doing something the second time. I was weak and chose to go the easy route. I am ashamed of myself and ask that you forgive me for making such a stupid decision. The suspension isn’t a wake up call. It is a time for me to take a long look in the mirror and figure out what the root of this problem is all about.
I don’t think Ronnie is a bad guy at all. Ever time I have said hi to him at the plate he has greeted me with a smile. But it frustrates me so much when guys continue to make these types of decisions when they know full well that it is wrong. Not only that, the players know that the tests are random and can happen anytime. Come on! Unless you have a serious addiction, this is simply a slap in the face of integrity.
My hope is that this doesn’t end Ronnie’s playing career.
Just some questions and some thoughts.
How come the myth of small market teams is perpetuated? Aren’t all owners billionaires and able to buy players if they want, regardless of the revenues they take in for their market?
How come most 3B coaches are clueless when it comes to deciding whether or not to send runners to the plate? If there are less than two outs and the top of the order is coming up and your team is down by four runs, is that the time to gamble?
1. You are right that most owners are wealthy beyond imagination. But most owners are experts in other types of business. What is needed are people in the front office who understand how to put a team together. You can’t just throw money at the problem.
To your second point about revenues. Running a team is expensive and mistakes cost tons. Not thousands….millions. If a team decides not to sign draft picks or identify good players then the fans won’t come. Maybe we can say that it is like a small leak in your house. In the grand scheme of running the house, the leak is not a major problem. However, if it is left unfixed then it will continue to grow and in the end could cost a lot more that being responsible and fixing the leak when you see it. Dumb example but that’s what came to mind.
2. Coaching third base is hard. I would love to tell you that it is about outs and runs. But it is about humans who are running those bases. I would say that decisions are made based on the runner. If the runner does his job then it is easy for the coach to do his. If not, then the coach has to make low percentage decisions that may look bad.
By the way, “is it time to gamble” is a good point. Understanding when to take a chance is vital.
Now that the draft deadline has past, young men will now see a side of baseball that they haven’t experienced before. Professional baseball is unlike anything that they have played in so far. It is a blessing to get paid to do something you love, but you also realize that you are playing a very high stakes game that could set you up for life, or set you back depending on your performance.
In 1998, I stepped on the field in Auburn, NY as a player for the Astros NY/Penn League. When I saw the field I was impressed. It was a nice stadium that didn’t look anything like the “dumps” I had expected. But something was different and I noticed it immediately. The newly signed players were joking around, but those who had played for a few years were much quieter.
I realized that my teammates were not teammates with the goal of winning. We were now individual athletes where winning to a distinct second to personal performance. This was mind-bending for me. I had been blessed with great coaches and taught that one will only be great if they are able to play within the concept of team. That meant sacrificing personal performance for the win. That was gone and I didn’t like it.
In the end I decided that winning would probably be more valuable than my personal play. It was a gamble and many times I thought I was hurting myself. But I went for it anyway. That brings me to another point.
Statistics are the biggest mis-indicator (I don’t even think that is a word) of play. I’m over traditional stats. In fact, I will take a page out of Warren Buffet’s book for my take. He says, “Accounting is the language of business.” Well, that doesn’t mean that P/E ratios, PEG ratios, Debt/Equity, Price/Sales, or Price/Book are individual stats that can tell you if a company is healthy. Same holds for baseball. ERA, Wins, BA, HR’s, SLG, and a billion others are not sole indicators of great play. It is only when someone who can look at a player’s performance in the context of a win that they understand a player’s contribution.
Who knows what I am saying, but the point is that young men are about to jump in the shark tank with the rest of us. We who have been working for years know how dangerous it can be out here. Lets hope that those players have great coaches and mentors who can help protect them from the negatives and show them an honest path to playing their personal best!!!!!!!
GO GET ‘EM!
I want you to know that I have not forgotten about you. In fact, part of my time away has been about you. But that may come a little later. For now, why don’t we get back to some baseball and answer some of the main questions I have seen you come up with.
1. Jeff wrote: I have a question for you Morgan. Reading your blog, you have shown a great mind for strategy and the social game in the clubhouse. It seems to me that someone with your baseball smarts would make a fantastic manager if you were given a chance. Have you ever thought of managing?
Jeff I would love to manage. It doesn’t seem as easy as one would think. I am not sure how teams go about finding talent to manage, coach, or be in the front office. If we lived in a perfect world I would be able to find a mentor who could guide me to where my talents fit the best.
2. Tim wrote: Why do batters so frequently take called third strikes with men on base and the game on the line? Swing the stinking bat.
This probably has many answers, but I think there are usually 3 main reasons. The first is that the were not ready to swing the bat. Their hands weren’t back or they weren’t ready to “fire” which results in not seeing the ball as early. The second is that they guess and the guy throws something else. The third is that the umpire previously didn’t call that pitch so he laid off of it.
3. K9 asked: – is it coincidence or grand plan that many former Astros go to philly?
I don’t know. My speculation is that Ed Wade is most familiar with the Philly players or he is trusting of the people inside that organization. I can understand that. Some teams seem to have relationships where they trade a lot. As I was coming up, it seemed like every trade the Astros made was with Detroit.
4. Bo asked: Do you have any stories about cards of yourself or of other players?
I sure do Bo. There is a card out there with Adam Everett’s face on it. What do you have on that one?
5. My kids asked: Dada, can we go to the batting cage?
I tell them that we can go to the batting cage. It is really cool that they like to play baseball although I wouldn’t care if they didn’t like it. My dad has been asked numerous times, “What did you do that helped Morgan get to the Big Leagues?” His answer, “Is you boy asking you to go to the park and play or are you asking him to go and play at the park?”