According to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, there really is something to the rumours that Jack Morris may be on the verge of joining the Jays radio broadcast crew, don’tcha know.

I wrote back on Tuesday that, on first blush, I’m not exactly thrilled with the prospect, but since I based that pretty much entirely on my assumption that Morris is supportive of his own Hall of Fame candidacy– and therefore… y’know… one of those– I’m thinking maybe I wasn’t being totally fair, and that a better accounting of Morris’s radio work is in order before anybody goes soiling themselves about it.

Having now actually gone to the trouble of listening to him, in his favour, I’ll say this: Morris is a bit folksy.

The heck do ya mean, you ask? Well, you can hear him starting at the 42 minute mark of this September ’09 episode of ESPN’s Michael Kay Show, and he’s got the hint of an accent straight out of Fargo, and a big ol’ dusty bag of standard baseball tropes.

One radio hit is hardly representative of his entire oeuvre, but immediately I get the sense that he’ll play well to folks that don’t want to think too much, and who maybe didn’t appreciate Ashby’s cold objectivism and the strange– but awesome– contrast it made with Jerry Howarth’s style. Howarth and Morris, it would seem to me more than just a skosh, might just be two peas in a pod there.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like… as much as I’m all for being progressive consumers of baseball, I get that folks may not want to be bombarded with new concepts and esoteric numbers when they’re just trying to enjoy a damn game– especially when they’re doing so with a piece of technology that peaked in the damn 1940s.

Plus, it’s not as though the best, most enjoyable broadcasters are the most up-to-date on all the newfangled stats us let’s-learn-about-this-thing-we-love types are into. Calling a good game is about so much more than that– and it’s not like it was ever Ashby’s bag either, right?

Still, though, I’m wary.

Morris spoke to Eric Karabell on a Baseball Today podcast back in October, and among other things the ex-pitcher said that he believes in things like “karma” and “momentum,” which are things “that stats can’t define. It’s kind of like chemistry– team chemistry– it’s not a definiable thing in stats, so it really blows those guys out of the water.”

Wonderful! So the antipathy goes both ways.

By “those guys” he means “the cybernetics guys,” which is what he called the community of silly evidence-lovers who’ve made him a controversial Hall of Fame figure, according a Kevin Kaduk post at Big League Stew during the Winter Meetings– as opposed to “the guys who use … call it ‘the eyeball test.’ You know, ‘Were you there? Did you ever see me pitch?’”

Gosh.

A Dave Brown post at Big League Stew from back in 2010 also highlights the fact that Morris may have embraced the kinds of hopelessly flawed arguments about his Hall candidacy a little too fully, as he commented on the Twins’ loss in Game One of the ALDS:

Then came the sixth inning, when the Twins’ three-run lead flipped to a 4-3 deficit.

That’s not how ol’ Jack operated, so goes the legend crafted from Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

At first, Morris did the old “Not to take anything away from Francisco Liriano” schpiel — which always means what comes next will do the opposite.

And he said: “The good guys never let it slip away, and he let it slip away.”

Ugh.

Though… maybe it’s not that bad, and maybe I’m just too sensitive to such nonsense because I deal so much in pushing back against those empowered by it, but… yeah… ugh.

Nothing is official, of course, and I should still probably hold judgement until I actually hear the guy. And cut some slack to the radio folks who are probably just playing to their core audience, and not those of us who desperately want an alternative to the TV prattle. But…  nope. Still not really feeling this one.

Also, this:

Comments (92)

  1. you betcha, ya,,,

  2. Probably a stretch to read much into this, but Dirk Hayhurst had this tweet yesterday:

    “Just had a great chat with Tim @Kurkjian_ESPN about the art of broadcasting. Dude is one of the nicest people on this earth. Thanks, Timmy!”

    • I will destroy every radio capable of receiving a blue jays broadcast if Dirk’s brutal commentary is brought to the table.

  3. The heck you say?!

  4. I asked the same question earlier this morning of any Twins fans that listened to Morris on the radio last year and what their thoughts/impressions were. Got response from @mighty_flynn as follows:

    “Not a twins fan but I’ve heard him a lot. He’s ok, not great. He speaks his mind, which is probably why Twins let him go”.

    Also:

    “He was critical of players on Twins and opponents fairly often. He’s ego driven”

    • Yeah I checked out the Twins fan I know as well. He’s a big fan of Morris the pitcher and didn’t have any problems with Morris the broadcaster. I’m OK with Morris coming here. If he’s opinionated so much the better. I can do without the Very Nice School of Sportscasting. But I do want substance to back up the opinion. (I’m looking at you, Zaunie…)

  5. Hey! don’t overquestion the examples supplied they are from the past and he may well have learned from his previous errors of running off at the mouth. Additionally his game partner will supply him with the longstanding rules of broadcasting a Blue jays game from the booth, so do not be so harsh, it may not happen anyway. There have been other names mentioned on your site which quite honestly make me appreciate being deaf.

    • Don’t be so harsh because maybe he’s better than the evidence suggests? Really? It’s not like Stoeten went nuts criticizing him even.

  6. Aw crap. Although if the Jays were gonna pull one of their patented pander to the LCD/nostalgic plays, doing it in the radio booth is much more preferable to say, on the actual coaching staff or something. Nice job digging all of that up.

  7. I’m all for getting an analyst pitcher from 1992, as long as it’s David Cone.

  8. Wilmer can’t be worse than Morris

    • the problem with Wilner is his play-by-play sucks. he has the chops of a minor-league announcer, and he comes across as a bit of a douche, and someone who likes to bend the truth to support their own opinions in a very petty way, so i think a lot of people dont find him particularly endearing ontop of the sub-par announcing skills.

      • +1 to Chris.

        Sadly that is exactly the problem with Wilner and I think it’s all down to thin-skinned-ness. I have reason to believe he’s actually a very decent guy but he can’t take being challenged on any subject especially baseball and he gets pissy and petty. If he could relax he’d be an excellent broadcaster.

        • I dunno. The times he’s filled in on the radio his play by play has sounded really stilted.

          • I agree on the play-by-play. He’s not good at that. But even on the post-game show he comes across as snippy and smart-alecky. If he dialled it down a little it would be a better show.

      • +2.

        Mike is better off as the pre/post game show. As a broadcaster he will be away from his family , so it’s easier for him to do Jays Talk here. Plus, he is a strong presence on twitter, so Rogers would lose that if he did broadcast teh show. You can’t tweet during broadcasts. If Wilner get the job, who could do post game show? Cosentino? Roger Lajoie? Hayhurst?

    • I agree that Wilner is choppy, I like him on Jays talk but if he is doing the game you have to listen to him for the long haul. Last year I was fed up with the constant rehashing of prior innings results. Give me the play by play , a break down of what is happening in the other games around the 2 leagues, Shirley that can fill the time involved!

  9. I’m all for folksiness in radio broadcasts. I mean, the average age for a baseball radio audience is what, 70? They just want soothing voices and friendly chuckles and romantic, halcyon descriptions of how the mid-day July sun is shining off the cerulean helmets of our good ol’ Boys Of Summer out there on the dusty, well-trodden basepaths as Jose Bautista takes to the dish with two ducks on the pond.

    Being stat-savvy is really more of a visual medium. Seeing numbers and charts and being able to read and interpret and think. An injection of sabermetrics can work on TV where they can show you a graphic, but radio baseball is background-listening for sitting on your porch and sipping lemonade on a rocking chair, it’s not a Bill James and Tom Tango podcast where they debate the merits of UZR in WAR calculations

    • Yeah, but being stat savvy is also being intellectually curious, which would be nice. That would be nice even in non-stat-related forms.

      • I don’t disagree fully, but I think stat-savvy is something that anyone can be taught. A one person fits all strategy for teaching broadcasters stats and hoping they dont eff them up live is not going to work.

        Some guys would do better have a scrap of paper for the key things they always forget.. some need a tablet or something like that with visual aids.. Rogers needs to better equip their broadcasters for success. They are a telecommunications firm, no?

        • The hate on for radio play-by-play is arrogant at best. The ability to verbally animate a ball game in an age when you can actually watch the play, pretty much anywhere, minutes after it happens, is a skill possessed by next to nobody in television today. Beyond the fact that Jerry Howarth allows you to do whatever the hell I want with your Saturday without missing a pitch, all you have to do to distill the real difference between radio and television baseball is flip between a Fan 590 broadcast and the catatonic nightmare that is Jaime Campbell and Greg Zaunn. There is no comparison.

      • Nerds!!!!

    • What would be awesome would be a folksy broadcaster who is actually capable of backing up his folksy opinions with facts. Because, you know, reality versus imaginary unicorns.

      • Opinions are just that … opinions. There is nothing that says you have to agree with them. And there damn sure is nothing that says just cuz they cant be backed up with facts, someone cant say it, or its not in the realm of reality.

        For a radio broadcast, all I ever want to hear is the play by play. Problem is, with so much downtime over the course of a normal baseball game, announcers have to fill in the time. Some do so with facts and stats, others do so with folksy stories. Its just a personal style. Whether you agree, or whether you like it, is just your Opinion. (see how I made it full circle there ..)

    • The sad thing is the Jays’ televised games never show graphics to give any viewer knowledge beyond the pseudo-stats, “gotta pitch through the 6 innings to get a quality start.” The very least they could do is utilize pitch F/x like many broadcasters provide, but they never will because that’s a quantum leap when Buck spews nonsense such as, “wins are the most important stat for a pitcher.”

    • ‘…the average age for a baseball radio audience is what, 70? They just want soothing voices and friendly chuckles and romantic, halcyon descriptions of how the mid-day July sun is shining off the cerulean helmets of our good ol’ Boys Of Summer out there on the dusty, well-trodden basepaths as Jose Bautista takes to the dish with two ducks on the pond.’

      and those of us who can’t handle listening to bucky & kitty inflict verbal carnage upon us, and who therefore prefer to listen to the play-by-play/colour of the radio team during broadcasts.

      i’m 36.

      • +1.

        Ideally I would have Jerry & Ashby do tv. Buck is tolerable. Tabby drives me nuts with his comments on “big & strong” players etc…

    • I listen to the Jays broadcast daily…and am not 70. I also dont sit on my porch sipping lemonade in a rocking chair.

      I stream it on my BB because games start while I am still at work, (PST). I then cant go home and sit the fuck around to watch baseball. So, while I am walking my dog, working in my garden and doing whatever else a 32 year old father does, I am listening to baseball on the Fan.

      I enjoy it more than the TV broadcast because I do not have to listen to Pat and Buck.

      I will miss Ashby.

    • Oh and fuck off with the stereotypes. You are better than that.

  10. as much as im NOT looking forward to hearing Morris replace the greatest (Ashby) it’s still probably better than hearing fuckin’ Wilner

    • Wilner could be great, he has all the makings honestly. I think Rogers needs to pay up like 200 grand and send the dude to LA for a month and get some coaching from the best of the best.

  11. I am a 23 year old die hard jays fan. the kind that has some money now and no expenses, and will have lots of money when I do have expenses.

    They need to start appealing to the younger crowd with someone who can also be calm enough to relate to the older crowd who really does genuinely appreciate every insight due to their experience of watching so much baseball. All this means to me is that I will have to find a way to make the folksyness of a guy like Morris funny satirically like my brother and I have done with patty and buck for hundreds of games now.. Find a balance between Scully and the White Sox guys pretty much.. that is what this market needs I think.

    It is a tough balance to strike for sure but this seems like a reach in the wrong direction.

  12. I think Hayhurst could turn into an Ashby-type guy who has a footing with both camps – those who actually care for true analysis, and those who want to hear from a guy who played the game. He’s not there yet – but of the apparent choices on the board for me he is by far the best.

    • Hayhurst needs a lot of work on the color-commentating I think, sometimes he doesnt say enough and sometimes he elaborates a little too much… if he could find the right balance he could be good.

      • WOULD LOVE to see this guy get a shot on the live TV broadcast. Pat and Buck both missed a lot of games last year..

      • my friends, and Dad.. would fucking love Dirk haha my bro too. And my grandma could watch him with me and decide what the limit of political correctness is LMFAO.

  13. Morris looks eerily similar to Geraldo Rivera now.

  14. All I can say is: Nooooooooooooooooooo!

  15. It might be sort of a chemistry thing for me but … I always liked him as a pitcher – even before he came to the Blue Jays – and whenever I’ve heard him speak his mind, I’ve found he pretty much does just that. He’s not perfect but he knows the game, he’s got a bit of grit and I think listeners will always know what he’s thinking. Not a bad choice at all, I’m thinking.

    • me too! i always enjoyed how, when he’d get a lead, he’d just heave-ho strikes down the middle, heroically foregoing his own stats, trying to get the batter to put the ball in play. so what if it leads to unnecessary runs? pitching to the score is the fucking nuts!

      so, yeah.

      • Sometimes he’d pitch nifty and tight, sometimes not so much. But that way of getting the thing done that he generally seemed to have, I liked. A lot, actually.

        • I kind of like listening to the old guys occasionally.
          I remember one time the jays were on the road, I think in Atlanta, and jose was on an absolute tear, drabek was pitching.

          Jose is up and buck asks the guy( i cant remember who, old pitcher) how do you deal with a guy this hot?

          his response was, well you gotta get him off his feet.

          Tabby pauses…. are you suggesting you throw at him?

          boom… next pitch, fastball up by his face.

          Drabek walks a guy with the bases loaded and the old pitcher says, thats not a horrible thing, dont give in to him, prompty gets a groundball for a double play next pitch.

          Sometimes there is more to the game than statistical analysis of previous events and pretending you can use that info to predict the future.

  16. I can’t stand former players that were pricks to the media during their playing days getting a shot a broadcasting. Joe Carter and Jack Morris should both be permanently tossed from the booth.

    • I get your point, but on the flip-side, do they not know have a responsibility to show them how’s it done?

  17. I nominate Candy Maldonado!

  18. Until someone can say WOBA on the radio without sounding like an anus, I’m all for ill-informed and subjective folksiness.

  19. I would love to see Tim & Sid broadcast the Blue Jays. They wouldn’t provide a boring moment.

  20. Why don’t they hire Jose Canseco? First of all it would be entertaining as hell, and second of all it would allow him to own property in Toronto and give him sometime to be a Canadian citizen. It’s a win – win for everybody!

    • Here’s what you do: a special 18+ pay-per-view broadcast of all 162 games featuring play-by-play man Jose Canseco and colour commentator Ozzie Guillen.

      You could make it $50 a night and I’d be buying that shit.

  21. On the mythical powers of “momentum”, it’s understandable that Morris believes in it having played on an ’84 Tigers team that started the year 35-5 then coasted all the way to a WS trophy.

    One in the plus column? Years back at a card show in Michigan he loudly requested a Jack and Coke before he started signing autographs, so he definitely enjoys his liquor.

  22. I think someone like Jeff Blair may work (one day). He possesses a voice that’s immediately recognizable, and when you listen to him talk about baseball, he’s actually quite knowledgeable. Almost fell out of bed a couple days ago when he explained, quite correctly, how wins as a pitcher’s stat is completely useless.

    • Listening to Jeff Blair is a painful experience. He tends

      to pause too much.

    • Blair kind of stutters and has trounle finishing his thoughts when HE controls the audience and information flow. Imagine how hard it would be for him to keep up with a guy hustling out a triple with a play at third. He’d still be trying to tell you who is picking up the ball in RF as the crowd is hollering. No thanks-send him back to the Grope and Flail-they can fuk around all day there

  23. Okay, so maybe Jack Morris isn’t the perfect choice, or the best choice, or anyone’s first choice (wouldn’t be mine). But think about how spoiled and fucking lucky we’ve been as Jays fans to have this list of broadcasters call Blue Jays baseball for the last 36 years:
    Tom Cheek, Jerry Howarth, Alan Ashby, Dan Shulman, Don Chevrier, Brian Williams, Jim Hughson, Tony Kubek (Ford Frick Award winner, partially for Jays TV work), John Cerutti (with Brian Williams)…not including older franchises like the Yankees and Dodgers, is there another expansion-era franchise that has been blessed with this kind of a baseball broadcasting roll call? Outside of specific names associated with one team like Uecker in Milwaukee or Niehaus in Seattle I can’t think of any.

    Oh yeah, there’s been some duds that have passed through here, and we all know the list (Joe Carter: “That batter looked like a deer with headlights”). But forgetting the duds for a minute, maybe our embarrassment of riches in the broadcasting department has given us impossibly high standards for our broadcasters. I don’t think we need Jack Morris to be our new Shulman or Cheek or even Ashby, and I doubt he’ll come close to being that kind of guy. But, he can be halfway decent and that will still be better than listening to Buck and Pat for 162 nights a year — and Jerry’s still in the radio booth. I say welcome Jack Morris, and let’s give him a chance before we throw him into the Carter-Tabler memorial broadcast dumpster.

  24. As much as I liked the radio team we had, I gotta admit I almost never listened to them.

    Only if I am working or driving.

    Otherwise I’m at the game or watching on tv. And no the tv for video but with radio for audio combo does not work – there is a delay on the tv feed.

  25. Here is a recent interview Morris did with old friend Dan LeRetard (he of the taxes hyperbole with Josh Johnson):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHo-joWqDIE

    • btw, I liked Morris in this interview: thougtful, especially about the relationship with fans and how he has “changed” as a player as he got older. And, reflective of his role in the media now. I am certainly not in any “ugh” camp based on this view of Jack.

      • Agreed dm. Especially given the weird questions I thought he handled it well with apparently thoughtful and honest answers. Now, he didn’t get to talk about “big Mo” vs WOBA either! So, while I will miss Ashby a lot, I’m willing to give Jack a shot. I listen to most of the games on the radio and the few TV games I’ve heard have not tempted me to do otherwise.

  26. I HOPE YOU AND FARRELL CAN PROUDLY CARRY ON SUCKING EACH OTHERS DICKS WHEN THEY GO LIMP FROM BLUE JAYS ENVY

  27. Yes, Jack. I saw you pitch — it was 1992, and my beloved Jays finally made it to the World Series. Good thing the “good guys” can be relied upon. Should we talk about your god-awful pitching in the ALCS or your holy-shit-you-suck pitching in the WS? Your choice …

  28. Mccarver > morris

  29. This better mean that they have huge, giant plans for Dirk Hayhurst, and that radio simply wasn’t enough.

  30. Could he be worse than Rance?

  31. Anyone but Wilner.

  32. I prefer the radio because it’s free (unlike Sportsnet), the commentary with Alan Ashby and Jerry Howarth was MUCH better than the TV broadcast, and it’s easier to have on the background while working on something.

  33. Just like Jack didn’t let any ’92 WS games slip away?

  34. “the cybernetics guys” LOL. There was a poster on here, from I think Minnesota, who warned us that Morris “wasn’t working on the cure for cancer, if you know what I mean”. Yeah, I’m getting the picture. Too bad because I do listen occasionally to the radio broadcast, sometimes when I’m driving home from work (Pacific time, yo) and occasionally when the video broadcast is on but I’ve muted Buck’n'Tabby, which I almost always do.

    So, my exposure to the sonic side of Jays broadcasts is very limited. For a time I thought the mockery of Pat Tabler on this site was overdone, but then I left the sound on for part of a game and Tabby spent the first three innings admiring the Detroit Tigers, who were apparently all young, lean, and strong. Oooookay, I quickly reverted to the radio broadcast when I wanted audio. My only real objection to the radio show has been that Wilner is kind of a tool and Howarth clearly does not like him.

  35. Over the past 2 years I listened to more games than I watched (I’m 28) and even chose that medium pretty regularly.

    As Stoeten says, Jerry & Alan were at least intrigued by the idea of new ways to think about the game even if they didn’t refer to them that often. They knew what many advanced stats were and didn’t shit on the people who used them to enhance their feel for the game. God I’m going to miss that guy so much.

    We already get that OLD SCHOOL BASEBALL GRITHUSTLECHEMISTRY on the TV side, can’t we get some reasoned people on the radio? Or an internet broadcast or something.

  36. If the Jays radio broadcasts want to go for an ex-player again to take Alan Ashby’s slot, then I don’t have a problem with Jack Morris. He’s got some connection to the Jays and may very well become a Hall of Famer one of these years, which is always nice for a warm, fuzzy feelings. That said, it’d be nicer to get a former player who bleeds a little more blue, though don’t know if there are any ex-Jays that fit that bill well at the moment, except maybe Dirk Hayhurst.

    That said, after two non-former players in the radio booth forever in Jerry Howarth and Tom Cheek, I don’t see that Alan Ashby’s replacement needs to be a former player. There are a ton of dedicated, young broadcasters busting their chops in the minors that could use a break. After all that’s where we found Howarth and Cheek originally.

    If Mike Wilner was serious about wanting the gig (which I have no idea if he is), he’d find himself an opening in the minors, learn how to do the job properly and perfect his craft. There are all kind of guys like him who’s are paying their dues in the minors, and it’d be nice to go down and find one of these diamonds in the rough, who might actually stay in the job for 30 years.

    Jerry Howarth isn’t getting any younger and the team ought to be thinking long term. A good way to start would be finding a young broadcaster that can become entrenched by Jerry’s side and then carry the ship forward when Jerry’s time eventually ends. In this respect, Jack Morris feels like more of a stop-gap solution for a few years.

    • Before anyone jumps in to correct me, yes I know Tom Cheek broke his major-league cherry with the Expos, but the Jays were his first full-time MLB gig and for all intents and purposes we were hiring him from the minors as he was only doing occasional fill-in work with the Expos. As for Jerry Howarth, he found him doing minor league games in Salt Lake City.

    • This Sports Illustrated article is a few years old, but gives a good sense of the dedicated broacasters toiling in the minors hoping to one day get a call to the Show:

      http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/jon_weisman/03/21/minors.dream/index.html

    • Doh! Scratch my comment on Mike Wilmer. Apparently, he has paid some dues broadcasting minor-league games in A and AA ball. That’ll teach me not to look it up first! Don’t know how many years he did, but he seems like he got around a bit. So who knows, maybe he has honed his craft and this is as good as he gets. And maybe he’s just better doing the post-game stuff.

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