I started the day with Joe Morgan, so I’ll end the day with Joe Morgan.
I think I’m in the distinct minority in not really celebrating his departure from ESPN. I can live with that. I belong to a lot of distinct minorities. People who like Dylan’s signing voice for its own sake. People who prefer “Next Generation” to the Original Series. People who have had restraining orders issued against them for excessive handsomeness. It just goes with the territory of being a well-rounded gentleman.
But I can’t ignore the dissenting voices. The loudest and most effective of which on the subject of Joe Morgan came five years ago when Tommy Craggs wrote the definitive piece on what Morgan has become and what he means to the state of broadcasting and baseball thought. If you haven’t read it, by all means, take the time, as it’s still relevant, if not for Morgan himself, but for his many like-minded cohorts in the biz. The only dissent I’ll offer is that, while everything Craggs writes is correct and important to our consideration about the man, it’s entirely possible to not to know any of that stuff and not have it affect our baseball watching one iota. I know that’s an odd claim coming from me given that I go meta on the media and overanalzye everything, but it’s how I feel. Maybe it’s caused by lingering affection for some old Joe Morgan cards. I can’t say.
Finally, when you’re done with Craggs’ piece — or better yet, before you jump into it because it’s long and you’ll want more context — read Emma Span’s take over at Bronx Banter. I think she frames the matter perfectly. The upshot: in a perverse way, we needed Joe Morgan to come into our living room on Sunday nights like the Batman needs Joker. He completes us. We need him on that wall, etc.
Now: who has dibs on “Fire Orel Hershiser?” Because I smell a blogging opportunity!
After 16 years in the majors, longtime Tigers DH Victor Martinez capped his career with one final start at Comerica Park. Although there are seven games remaining in the club’s regular season schedule, Martinez said he felt he owed it to the fans to record his final at-bat at home. He’ll still cheer the rest of the team on from the dugout when they hit the road for their last six-game stretch on Monday, though he’s not expected to slot into the lineup at any point during their back-to-back away series against the Twins and Brewers.
In order to commemorate the occasion, the Tigers arranged a pregame ceremony to celebrate the veteran infielder’s seven years with the team, during which they presented him with Topps baseball cards, a recliner, a pair of boots, and a saddle, among other honors. Martinez also put in a special request to play first base, a position he hadn’t manned in over two years.
The 39-year-old didn’t waste a single minute of his final start in the majors. He deftly handled an inning-ending out in the top of the first, then laced a rare infield single to short in his first and final at-bat of the afternoon, beating the throw to first and advancing Nicholas Castellanos to second base in order to set up the Tigers’ first run: a two-out RBI single from Niko Goodrum that brought Castellanos home to score.
“I think that at-bat was the perfect at-bat to describe my career,” Martinez told reporters after the Tigers wrapped a 5-4 win over the Royals. “I had to sweat it out. I had to sweat it out the whole way. I had to grind it. That was my whole career.”
Following the hit — and the standing ovation that greeted it — the switch-hitter was promptly replaced by pinch-runner Ronny Rodriguez, who subbed in at second base in the top of the second while Goodrum shifted from second to first base. Taking Saturday’s performance into account, Martinez polished off his big league career with a lifetime .295/.359/.455 batting line, 423 doubles, 246 home runs, 1,178 RBI, and 28.4 fWAR across 1,973 games and three separate stints for the Indians, Red Sox, and Tigers. His accomplishments at the plate have been decorated with five All-Star nominations, two Silver Slugger Awards, and the designated hitter-exclusive Edgar Martinez Award following a career-best campaign in 2014.