Saturday, January 25, 2014

The return of Jack Morris

A few weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs hired Ron Coomer as the analyst for their radio broadcasts. This opened a role on FSN, where Coomer did a great deal of the pre-game and post-game studio (or in-stadium) blather (switching off with Roy Smalley and Tim Laudner).

On Friday the Twins announced that Jack Morris was joining the broadcast team, presumably in the Coomer role.


Morris was, a few years ago, a radio fill-in for the Twins. Like Dan Gladden, he came off as a stubborn old-timer convinced that there is no new knowledge to be gleaned. What he knew -- or merely thought he knew -- when he was playing is all that one can know, or needs to know, today.

I specifically remember a game in which Morris went on a lengthy rant about how foolish teams were to shift Jim Thome as a dead pull hitter in the infield while playing him straight away in the outfield. Morris didn't know Thome's hit charts. Thome hit maybe two groundballs a year toward left field, but hit fly balls that way regularly. Morris didn't know that, and didn't care to know that. The problem was, he then inflicted his ignorance on his audience.

The Twins broadcast teams have been riddled for years with this failing. Bert Blyleven. Gladden. Morris. In an era in which most team's decision makers are delving deeply into statistical analysis, the Twins' broadcast analysts either cannot or will not learn enough about it to inform their audience. One possibility, of course, is that the broadcasters accurately reflected the organization's interest in the subject.

One of Paul Molitor's duties on the coaching staff will be defensive positioning, and he has said that he expects to employ more elaborate overshifts and to rely heavily on hit chart data. It will be interesting to see how this plays out with the traditionalists in the broadcast booths. The Jack Morris I heard a few years ago would be baffled.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad I don't have access to his "information" here in Japan.