The Innate Quality to Win: Fire Joe Morgan on Fire Joe Morgan

In Part 2 of our conversation, the FJM staff talks stats, their targets, and David Eckstein's throwing arm.
Share |

Fire Joe Morgan (2005-2008) has a cult reputation that can seem intimidating to those not already in the cult. Like Mystery Science Theater 3000 in more ways than one, the short-lived, much-beloved baseball blog took aim at subpar sports journalism, heckling bad math and and lazy received wisdom with a call-and-response format that many others still imitate. The writers of FJM were never looking for their site to be influential, successful, or even read by anyone outside their close circle of friends. But they were way too good at what they did—and way, way too funny—for the site to stay undiscovered. Though the site is now dormant, the three statistically inclined baseball fans who wrote the majority of the posts are all now writers for NBC's Parks and Recreation. I took a trip to the offices of that show, where Dave King ("dak"), Alan Yang ("Junior"), and Mike Schur ("Ken Tremendous") filled me in on how FJM became an unexpected hit.

This is Part 2. Read Part 1 here. Part 3 will run tomorrow.

2. FJM BLOWS UP

ON GAINING AN AUDIENCE

MS: I remember Will Leitch linking to us from Deadspin. And at that time I was like, “Whoa, what’s happening? People are reading this?”

DK: And I want to say Richard Deitsch.

MS: At SI, yeah.

AY: We never intended anyone to read it. I think at the very beginning it was just us, so we didn’t have to e-mail each other. And then for whatever reason we enjoyed writing for it every day. And then Will linked to us, and then it was on Yahoo!, and then it was on CNN.

MS: I’ve since met [Will] and become friends with him on some level, and I never—I should ask him.

AY: It was literally in CNN, the print magazine SI. And then it was in Rolling Stone.

MS: Richard Deitsch was the first guy. He does media rankings, and he put our blog in at the end of the year, here are the five best things, and we were in the list of websites. It was crazy. And then, that subsequently led to both me and Alan writing pieces for SI.

AY: For CNN! As pseudonyms! Which was crazy!

MS: I wrote a piece about [Kevin] Garnett and Ray Allen joining the Celtics, and just in general about Boston sports.

AY: I wrote a piece about why Crash shouldn’t have won the Oscar. For Sports Illustrated?

MS: I don’t remember the build, though. I remember Will Leitch linking us once. And going, like, holy cow, we made it. After that it’s all a blur. And by a blur, it should be noted—at the height, it was read by, like, 30,000 people. It wasn’t like Tim Robbins in The Hudsucker Proxy suddenly becoming …

AY: It wasn’t Hello Giggles. Also, it was a different time. It was eight years ago. We would have a crappy site meter statistics. And we’d be like, “Holy shit! Four thousand people?” Then it was ten thousand. It just seemed crazy to us that people would come read these dense, dense, disgustingly laid-out jokes about statistics.

DK: I remember really early on, it was the first day that more than, say, three hundred people visited the site, and I remember being in Mike’s apartment, and we were so happy. We all wrote for shows that, not bragging, but, just by sheer numbers, millions of people watched. And the idea that five hundred people … it made us so happy, in such an unexpected way. It was really cool. It was a very cool feeling.

AY: There was never any pandering. It was the opposite of pandering. You were writing specifically for yourself and the two other guys. It was very natural and organic. It was never like, “How can we get more hits?” That conversation was never had. It was the opposite of that!

MS: We did everything wrong. All the things you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to post every day.

AY: [We were] totally random.

MS: You’re supposed to post right at 9 a.m. First of all, we didn’t know. And second of all, we didn’t care. I would literally, on my lunch break, at The Office, I would go to my office and rip off a thousand words about something I heard Colin Cowherd say that morning on the radio. And then I would go back to work. It was whenever we could do it.

ON THEIR APPRECIATION OF INTERNET COMMUNITIES

AY: I think that interestingly, the site became a little bit of … not only a defense of nerds in general and math in general and nerds in general and post-Francis Baconian thinking, but also that the medium isn’t necessarily as important as the content. So a lot of the newspaper articles at the time, and stuff on ESPN.com or Yahoo.com made fun of writing on blogs. So I think part of us would say “Hey, if there’s a good thought, or an interesting point, or a good insight, and it appears in a form you’re not used to, that doesn’t invalidate the thought.” I don’t really post in forums at all, but I read … Sons of Sam Horn is a good Red Sox forum that is pretty intelligent. And I would say that the points in that forum that are made are largely better than the average point you’ll hear from a color commentator. The level of discussion and discourse there is very high.

DK: I would say my only experience with real online communities was like, trading cassette tapes with other Pavement fans in the mid—

AY: In the mid-2010s.

MS: In the mid-yesterday.

DK: “You’ve got the first live performance of ‘Shady Lane’?”

AY: Gotta get that! Gotta get that on cassette.

DK: “I’ve got Green Day at the Half Shell.”

AY: Dookie tour. Insomniac tour.

MS: I read Sons of Sam Horn and USS Mariner. I read a lot of baseball blogs at the time just because I liked the writing and I liked what people were saying, and I thought it was interesting. I lurked in Sons of Sam Horn for a long time. And once I stumbled on, long after [FJM] was up and running, I stumbled into a conversation where people were debating whether or not Tim McCarver was a good announcer.

DK: What was your take on that?

AY: It was very measured.

MS: And I said “Hey guys, I’ve been lurking here for a long time, and”—I didn’t really say this, but what I meant to say was “I’m going to end this discussion right now.” And I went through our archives and I pulled out like twenty of the dumbest things he’d ever said and just listed them. And then I got an email that was like, “Hey, do you want to join?” And I was like, “Yes, I do! I’ve been lurking here for nine years.” And I post … I’ve probably posted a few hundred times there randomly. But I had no experience engaging in those discussions. Frankly because, a lot of it, the math goes above my head.

AY: They’re good on there, man.

MS: A lot of the, not just on that site, but on a lot of other sites, the actual math they’re using … Sons of Sam Horn, if you go to their main board right now, there’s a pinned post at the top of their main board that’s like, “Please read this if you are going to use WAR in a post.” It’s at that level where you can’t just drop that stat, you have to know how to use it properly, and that is really thrilling and exciting to me.

AY: The gap between the level of discourse on that board and on most other, you know, random basketball teams’ boards.

MS: New York Jets Fans dot com, or whatever.

AY: I have an account there [Sons of Sam Horn]. They gave me an account, which I was pretty happy about. I never posted, but I can read stuff. It’s fun.

ON RESPONSES FROM CRITICS AND BRIEFLY ALLOWING COMMENTS

MS: Here’s what happened. We had a mid-life crisis, where a couple things happened. The first thing was, we felt like it was shitty that we were anonymous. And we talked about it, and we were like, y’know, this isn’t cool. We’re flinging a lot of shit about a lot of people. And they have the right to know who’s saying this stuff. And we’re all having the same … as I remember, we were all kind of feeling that.

AY: We all agreed it’s a little cowardly. Again, the site was all in good fun, and we didn’t mean anything we wrote. But it was a lot of jokes, where it was like, this person’s old, or whatever.

DK: You didn’t really want Dan Shaughnessy’s daughter to have sex with—

AY: Well, that was crazy. That’s when I started getting emails from Dan Shaughnessy. And then I called Dan Shaughnessy and he found out who I was, and stuff.

MS: Yeah, there were a couple things like that. We got emails from the late Mike Celizic, and from Woody Paige. And by the way, all of them, to a man, except for Shaughnessy, which was a personal issue—

AY: Yes, it was a joke I made.

MS: We got a lot of emails saying “Hey. I think your site is funny.” And it made us feel even crappier because we were saying a lot of terrible things. So the first thing that happened was we announced who we really were, our real names. And then the second thing that happened was … I think I was the problem. Because I started to feel like it sucks that people can’t write back to us on the site. And it’s a democracy and we should allow this to happen.

AY: In theory.

MS: That was the theory. I was totally wrong. And I think I brought this up to you guys. I was like, we should allow commenting. And, if I had known better, I never would have said it, because within thirty seconds it was like, oh what a terrible idea.

AY: There were a hundred comments, and—

MS: None of them were good.

AY: None of them would add anything.

DK: Even some of the comments were about what a bad idea it was for us to have comments.

AY: At a certain point, 20 percent of the comments were like, “Please stop! We don’t have the ability to police ourselves!”

MS: It was like a serial killer saying “Put me in jail.”

AY: We were like, “This is a nightmare, I don’t want to see this.” Even though you didn’t have to look at them unless you clicked on it, even knowing it was there.

MS: Very quickly, it was like, ugh ….

AY: The other nice thing was, and this is dumb, but if I ever went to a post, after we eliminated public comments, if I saw that there were comments, I knew that they were from Mike, or Dave, or one of the other five guys.

DK: They were more like notes, or additional jokes.

MS: Or corrections. That was … one of my favorite things about the site was when we would post something, and someone would write a thoughtful, well-formed email to us saying “Hey, you didn’t consider this.” and then we would post a correction or addendum to the post we made. That delighted me to no end. There was a guy, I remember, I had written something about Tony Gwynn. And someone just wrote this really thoughtful—he was a big Padres fan, I think—that was like, “You know, the whole point of Tony Gwynn was that he was just kind of this fat little dude who slapped singles to left-center, and that’s why he was great and fun to watch and valuable." And I was like, “You know what, you’re right.” And I just wrote this happy, I reprinted the e-mail, I was like, “This is a great defense of Tony Gwynn.” I just love that stuff.

 

3. FJM SETTLES IN

ON TWO OF THEM ACCIDENTALLY WRITING RESPONSES TO THE SAME ARTICLE

MS: That happened a lot.

AY: Sometimes you would look in the drafts and be like, “Oh man, he’s writing a draft!”

MS: But then what happened was…we sort of naturally settled into, like, we had unofficial beats. I started doing the Joe Morgan chats. Alan went after [Bill] Plaschke all the time. I had Celizic. You had [Jeff] Passan, too, until he changed. [Dave] didn’t really have a specific beat. But it sort of happened naturally. More and more, people started sending us links.

AY: That was really helpful.

MS: Then occasionally we would start writing the same piece.

AY: “Okay, I’m doing this one.”

DK: People were great. Emails were amazing. People would send us spreadsheets, and stuff. That was unbelievable.

MS: Yeah, they would send us spreadsheets. They would crunch numbers for us. We would sometimes say, like, “I wish someone would do an analysis of blank,” and then, like, thirty minutes later, someone would send it to us. There was one thing where I made some reference to … something about Congressional powers, and then this really spirited, historical debate rose, and I kept publishing their emails. It was so awesome! I loved it! It was so interesting! And these Congressional historical experts were sending me e-mails going “Well, actually, there is a precedent for this in the 1830s. John Calhoun was once approached …” Anyways, John Kruk’s a moron.

ON HATGUY AND WHO WAS FAIR GAME FOR AN FJM SKEWERING

MS: They were professionals. That was kind of the unspoken thing.

AY: It was staggering that people were using The New York Times, or ESPN, and they were so bad. If someone writes you an email and it’s not great, it’s like, well, that’s just a guy.

DK: I don’t remember a lot of emails that were …

AY: I would describe our audience as a bubble of people who were like-minded. You weren’t really reading that site a lot unless you were kind of into what we were saying.

MS: That was the thing that ultimately was so vexing about it. That Joe Morgan, for example, I wrote this sentence so many times. He was the main color commentator on the Sunday Night Game of the Week on the biggest sports network in the world, and was winning awards for his work. So it wasn’t just that they were professionals, they were held up as the greatest. Joe Morgan, Tim McCarver. And Woody Paige was on Around the Horn every week, and those guys were being put forth by these giant media conglomerates as the best we have to offer.

AY: And still are, in some cases. Joe Morgan got fired, but McCarver still works.

MS: And Mitch Albom has won the Sportswriter of the Year award like eleven times. And Rick Reilly has, too. They’re the people who are the biggest names. It’s almost an inverse relationship to the amount of success you have and the quality of your work. [Rick Reilly] writes a lot of human interest-y kind of things. He’s not mixing it up, hosting a lengthy weekly chat where he was being asked to provide analysis on baseball. He writes about high school kids in Texas.

AY: When it becomes a taste thing, or becomes a “I don’t like this guy’s slant on this story” … I feel like Fire Joe Morgan leaned more heavily on “Hey, I can objectively tell you that what you just wrote was wrong.”

MS: Right.

AY: And that’s an easier thing to fall back on. We know that we can make fun of them because we know we have a quantitative leg to stand on. Whereas if it’s a tearjerker story about a high school wrestler … the piece—I don’t care for the way he wrote it, but I felt like the jokes would be more toothless. Like, “I don’t like how you wrote this.”

DK: “I don’t like all your jokes about the dentist, Rick Reilly.”

MS: I do really enjoy those Deadspin breakdowns. When they read Rick Reilly and count …

AY: How many teeth metaphors?

DK: For a guy with not the best teeth, he really draws a lot of attention to them.

AY: He has a lot of great things. I love that he’s always tweeting pictures of his wife because she’s kinda hot.

DK: Who was that guy who sent us pictures of his condo?

AY: That was Bill Conlin! Child molester Bill Conlin emailed us a bunch!

MS: Noted child molester Bill Conlin.

AY: There is a bit of an FJM curse, of people we’ve written about. It’s pretty terrible.

MS: That I remember being annoyed about. Because that confrontation between Conlin and that other blogger started because that other blogger quoted you. Because you wrote that piece, and then he cited you and wrote to him, and then he cited that guy.

AY: That kind of stuff happened, too, where we didn’t want to throw it in these guys’ faces, in the way that other people would. People started sending our stuff to the writer, and they’d get really profane. Not that we weren’t profane on the site.

MS: Bill Conlin wrote us and sent us pictures of his condo in Florida.

DK: It was not the greatest condo.

AY: And he’s an old guy. It was like, this is kind of sad.

DK: It was weird.

MS: It was right before it, though, because I believe what happened was, then, that other guy, I can’t remember his name, got into it with him, and that was the fight that, the back and forth would eventually lead to Deadspin, and stuff. But the whole reason it came about was that post that you did.

AY: Making fun of him because he loved Ryan Howard or something. He was overvaluing Ryan Howard’s RBIs or something. The most minor—

DK: I wish the story were that somehow that fight had led to him somehow accidentally sending emails that would out him as a child molester. That we were accidental whistleblowers. I mean, I don’t really wish that. I don’t know what I wish.

MS: Well, now you’re on record.

AY: We generally tried not to inflame people.

MS: It was a fine line. Because we’re comedy writers writing jokes about the dumb things that people wrote, and then other people who read the site would then send them to the writers in question and then we would have to be like, “Whoa whoa whoa, hang on, we didn’t mean for this to happen.”          

AY: But you wrote it! It’s in black and white, you wrote it! Some of the guys would write us back and change their minds. Especially the younger guys.  Like this guy, Jeff Passan, from Yahoo!, who was a very young guy, wrote some bad pieces on Yahoo!, one of which specifically was he predicted the records for all the teams in baseball. And they just didn’t add up at all. He had the league going .600 or something. So I wrote a long thing, and then we did a back and forth, and he was like, “You’re kind of right. I need to look into sabermetrics. I’m a baseball writer, I’m 25, I need to look into sabermetrics. And now he’s a huge pro-sabermetrics guy. He wrote a piece on Yahoo! on why [Mike] Trout should win over [Miguel] Cabrera. There’s this new vanguard of guys. And in some small way, I think being made fun of on a site probably didn’t hurt.

DK: It’s certainly the best way to teach people.

AY: To just be dicks?

DK: To shame them, publicly. Hey, it’s gotten me this far.

 

4. THE FIRE JOE MORGAN METHODOLOGY

ON DAVID ECKSTEIN AND BUNTING

DK: Tony La Russa said something about he would pick David Eckstein first [in a draft of all currently active MLB players]. That just bothers me. In hindsight, we were so prone to hyperbole, I don’t know why I thought I would get so upset at managers when they would do the same. But it’s like, “Do you actually mean that, or are you exaggerating?” Like, Albert Pujols is on your team, and are you really saying [Eckstein] has an “innate quality to win”?

MS: I remember after the 2006 World Series, that was when the Cardinals won and David Eckstein was MVP. That was the real golden time for the site, because a billion articles about David Eckstein were written that were like, “This is your guy.” And there was a poll on ESPN that was like, “Who would you rather have playing shortstop for your team? A-Rod or David Eckstein?” And it was like, A-Rod had hit like 50 home runs the year before, I think he was the MVP in ’05, maybe. It was like 68 to 32, or something like that. But at the time, like 150,000 people had voted. So something like 50,000 people had been like, “Okay, who do I want playing shortstop for my team? I want David Eckstein over A-Rod.” And that was the time when it seemed the craziest. I would say the two watershed events for the site were the White Sox winning the World Series in ’05, and attributing all of it to “smallball” and Ozzie Guillen. When the team actually had a run of starting pitching and relief pitching that had almost never been seen before. And Eckstein winning the MVP because he hit a bloop to left that was misplayed by Curtis Granderson into a double.

AY: I love that.

MS: And the number of bad articles written about those two events …

AY: So great. So great.

MS: The Cardinals World Series and the White Sox World Series. That was the highest percentage of bad writing about any baseball subjects.

DK: It was a golden era for small, scrappy white guys.

AY: I remember looking up the stats for Neal Cotts and Cliff Politte over and over again, because they were these relief pitchers on the White Sox who were nobodies, but were delivering 0.8 WHIP seasons.

MS: In like 115 innings!

AY: It was crazy! No one’s talking about that, everyone’s talking about how they bunt sometimes. Or, you know, they’re hitting and running and stealing. And it’s like, no! There’s like six guys in their bullpen who are, like, Mariano Rivera this year.

MS: I further believe that a watershed for the nerd industry was when BP predicted they’d win 72 games, and then they won that amount the next year.

AY: And everyone was going “That’s ludicrous! These guys are champions! These guys are winners! They have the heart of a champion!”

MS: It’s very much like what just happened. I think the whole world is now —

AY: It’s about Nate Silver.

MS: The whole world is now understanding what was going on in baseball eight years ago because it’s exactly the same thing, where Nate Silver, leading up to the election, was like, “I’m not partisan. I’m a mathematician. I’m telling you the probability of these events occurring.” I was very nervous about the election, but I was more nervous because of Nate Silver, because I thought if something happens and Romney pulls out a huge victory, it’s going to set the entire mathematics world back, like, fifty years. Because it was so high profile, and in the last couple weeks of the election, it became such a big deal. And, at the time, that was true of BP, Nate Silver’s old haunting grounds. That was true of, specifically, that prediction. Because they’d won the World Series, and BP was like, “We’re just crunching numbers! We’re not sportswriters! We’re predicting things!” And they get stuff wrong all the time. Like anybody, you can’t account for things. But that prediction coming exactly true was a very important moment, I think. Predicting they won 71 or 72 games, or whatever.

AY: Also, in sort of a larger scope of things, just the fact that Nate Silver’s gone from baseball analysis to political analysis … in the same way, let’s not forget that they made a movie about Moneyball starring Brad Pitt! That’s insane! If they could have told us that, when we were starting this, when I was finishing Moneyball,and we were starting to write for the site, that’s crazy. It seemed more like a niche thing. They made a Brad Pitt movie! Based on Moneyball!

MS: They sure did.

AY: That’s insane!

ON STATISTICAL ANALYSIS IN GENERAL

AY: Let’s look at evidence, let’s use reason and logic. That’s all we’re asking, in some way.

MS: “The War on Blank” is overused right now, but there is no question, and it’s not right now, it’s throughout human history, there has been a war on math. People don’t like math, they don’t understand it. Even people who like and understand it don’t really understand it. I don’t really understand math.

AY: I just have respect for it.

MS: I just realize it’s a better way to make predictions than wild hunches. And I was very happy when the election played out the way it did, in large part because of what it meant for math. Dick Morris went on Fox News and was like, “I think Romney’s gonna win Ohio and Pennsylvania and Colorado and New Hampshire and Wisconsin,” and he wasn’t basing it on anything! He was just saying … I mean, he’s a hack. He’s a partisan hack. Part of being a partisan hack is you go make wild predictions like that. But you can’t just say that stuff. You can’t just say a baseball player is great when he’s not great. You can’t say things are going to play out a certain way when there’s overwhelming evidence against it. And I hope, I very much hope that that harbors good things to come for things like climate change. When there’s a billion scientists saying—

AY: Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.

MS: A billion scientists saying “Here’s what happening! Look at this data!” Who knows what the real thing is, but can at least look at the facts, instead of, just, like, “I don’t think that’s happening!”

AY: This sounds stupid because it’s a dumb site about baseball statistics. But let’s look at evidence and draw conclusions from measurable phenomena instead of just guessing. That’s the ultimate thing!

MS: It’s better than guessing.

AY: Human progress has happened because people stopped just guessing about stuff! Let’s measure things!

MS: My favorite thing I ever wrote for the site was that article that Plaschke wrote about that old scout for the Dodgers.

AY: Yes!

MS: That was the quintessential thing. Because he was claiming that it was this guy’s personal 87 years of baseball experience that led to the Dodgers acquiring Andre Ethier. Andre Ethier had been the A’s Minor League Player of the Year, the year before in Triple-A. And all you had to do was look at his numbers, which I did, and you see, oh, this guy’s really good. And the article, and that whole philosophy, was presenting a world in which only a certain kind of experienced veteran could determine these weird things. And there’s that great sequence in Moneyball where Brad Pitt is talking to the scout, and he’s like, “I’ve sat across from those tables, I’ve told them that we know that your kid is great. And we don’t know!” And that was amazing, to hear that, to see Brad Pitt say that.

ON DAVID ECKSTEIN AGAIN, BECAUSE HE STINKS

MS: I remember in one piece someone was arguing that the reason to get Eckstein on your team was because, well, he’s scrappy, and blah blah blah, and he’ll help your team win, and when he gets injured you can just play someone else in his spot. That was being argued in his favor.

AY: As opposed to other players.

MS: Yeah, when he gets injured, you can just slot somebody else in, in second. How is that an argument in his favor?

DK: His replaceability is his best asset.

MS: I believe it is also in that piece that I wrote some line … occasionally, we did actually make ourselves laugh. I remember writing a thing that said, if—the guy was claiming you could play Eckstein at third. And I wrote something like, “If Jacoby Ellsbury tapped a ball down the third baseline and Eckstein had to field it in foul territory and throw it to first, that by the time the ball hit the first baseman’s mitt, Ellsbury would have rounded the bases and would be back on the bench with an inside the park home run and Youkilis would be at the plate with a count of 2-0."

ON LOCAL SPORTSWRITERS

AY: A lot of these guys, it’s like, I don’t know what your background is, but your piece is on the internet. I’ll make fun of it.

MS: Who was the guy from Pittsburgh who wrote about superbike racing? [Ed. note: please read this.] Mike C, right? That was the most fun I’ve ever had writing something. That was really, truly—

AY: It’s good to know that there are intelligent people in all these local markets, and [the writers are] just bad. And they’re quote unquote getting away with it. I don’t know what that means. But they’re going to be made fun of, because there’s nothing bad—

MS: I think it’s probably very difficult to be a local writer, because you have to file every day, you have to constantly find stuff to write about, and it’s probably kind of shitty that we made fun of them so much. But, on the other hand, sometimes they would just, like—accountability is a good thing. I think it’s good to be held accountable.

AY: And also, I think some of those writers actually took that criticism—not that it was legitimate criticism—but in some ways it is, and some of them actually did read and care, I think. Which is good. Not the large percentage, but—

DK: Also, this is not in defense of bad writing, but I think it’s worth noting that there were also—probably still are—a lot of bad editors of sports sections of newspapers. We would often get emails that would say “Between you and me, I don’t want to write an article with this slant, but I’m being asked to. My assignment was—write a story about, let’s say, why David Eckstein is a great baseball player.” So it doesn’t always fall on the shoulders of the person whose name is on the byline.

MS: Well, it’s also—if you watch Around the Horn, or something.

AY: They’re clearly told—

MS: They’re just assigned positions to take. And so, you know, then they have to take them. But they argue them as if they’re passionate.

AY: I know. I love PTI so much, I should really dislike that show. They’re very anti-, kind of … both of them are kind of anti-statistics.

MS: It would be really funny if on Around the Horn they just rebelled one day, and they were like—“Who’s a better team, the Heat or the Grizzlies?”

AY: “We both agree, the Heat are going to win a championship.”

MS: They’d all just say “Oh, the Heat are better.”

AY: I actually kind of like LeBatard on that show.

MS: LeBatard’s good.

AY: LeBatard is often taking a statistical position. I love it, he’s like, “Coaches don’t matter! It just doesn’t matter!” It’s so funny.

DK: My eyes popped out of my head when he said that.

AY: Yeah, he was like, “It doesn’t matter! Just who your players are!”

DK: “Maybe a half-game a year.”

AY: Yeah, maybe a half-game a year! You never hear anyone say that.

ON JOHN KRUK’S TERRIBLE PREDICTION THAT RANDY JOHNSON WOULD WIN 30 GAMES IN 2005

AY: Even 25 wins is pretty crazy. But like, 30?

MS: Never in a million years. You get about 32 starts a year if you stay healthy. Randy Johnson was like forty years old at the time. And it’s crazy because, also wins are so arbitrary. It’s crazy for so many reasons. And that’s exactly the kind of thing that used to drive us crazy. It’s like, just, there’s nothing. There’s no basis in reality to make that prediction.

AY: What did he end that year with, I wonder?[Ed. note: 17.]

MS: We kept checking in on it. “Alright, he’s 11 and 6 at the All-Star break. So in his last fifteen starts, he’s going to have to get nineteen wins.”

AY: After like, four games, it was like, “Yeah, that’s impossible.”

MS: But the problem, again, is that people would say things like that and no one would call them on it. That’s not the point of Baseball Tonight, at the time. The point of Baseball Tonight was not to have Karl Ravech say, “Defend that statement!” So, you know—

DK: Those bold predictions are a real minefield. Let’s not forget that Peter Gammons predicted that Bobby Crosby would be the AL MVP.

AY: Oh yeah, that is amazing.

DK: It’s tough.

MS: Kruk also said that “not hotdogging” should be a criteria for the Hall of Fame. “Not hotdogging.”

AY: Sounds like Kruk. He’s such a moron, it’s great.

Next: FJM winds down, and the writers reflect on their legacy.


Share |

Comments

Glad to see LeBatard getting a little love here. Among my buddies, he's been a favorite for a little while now, just because so much of what he says ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE. I understand that calm, fact- and reason-based logic is not necessarily the point of the sports media business, but it's nice to hear someone say "Really good players are going to do better than everyone else" once in a while.
Also, I miss FJM terribly.

I am so very grateful for having this Superbike Racing article brought to my attention. I mean, above and beyond my gratitude for this oral history itself. Which is great. Thank you all.