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Two-time NL MVP and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan dies at 77 – Sportsnet.ca

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CINCINNATI — Joe Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman who became the sparkplug of the Big Red Machine and the prototype for baseball’s artificial turf era, has died. He was 77.

He died at his home Sunday in Danville, California, family spokesman James Davis said in statement Monday. Morgan was suffering from a nerve condition, a form of polyneuropathy.

Morgan’s death marked the latest among major league greats this year: Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Tom Seaver and Al Kaline.

Morgan was a two-time NL Most Valuable Player, a 10-time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves. A 5-foot-7 dynamo known for flapping his left elbow at the plate, Little Joe could hit a home run, steal a base and disrupt any game with his daring.

Most of all, he completed Cincinnati’s two-time World Series championship team, driving a club featuring the likes of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Tony Perez to back-to-back titles.

Morgan’s tiebreaking single with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 7 in 1975 gave the Reds the crown in a classic matchup with Boston, and he spurred a four-game sweep of the Yankees the next season.

Morgan was the league’s MVP both years. And his Hall of Fame teammates and manager readily acknowledged he was the one that got it all started.

The smallest cog in the Big Red Machine was its most valuable piece, and easily a first-ballot pick for Cooperstown.

“He was just a good major league player when it didn’t mean anything,” former Reds and Tigers skipper Sparky Anderson once said. “But when it meant something, he was a Hall of Famer.”

In a 22-year career through 1984, Morgan scored 1,650 runs, stole 689 bases, hit 268 homers and batted .271. But those stats hardly reflected the force created on the field by the lefty-swinging No. 8.

“Major League Baseball is deeply saddened by the death of Joe Morgan, one of the best five-tool players our game has ever known and a symbol of all-around excellence. Joe often reminded baseball fans that the player smallest in stature on the field could be the most impactful. On a Big Red Machine roster stocked with greats, Joe earned National League MVP honors during both of Cincinnati’s World Series Championship seasons of 1975 and 1976,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement.

“Joe was a close friend and an advisor to me, and I welcomed his perspective on numerous issues in recent years. He was a true gentleman who cared about our game and the values for which it stands. Those who knew him – whether as a Sunday Night Baseball broadcaster, a Hall of Fame board member or simply as one of the legends of our National Pastime – are all the better for it. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest sympathy to Joe’s wife Theresa, his family, his many friends across our sport, the fans of Cincinnati and everywhere his 22-year career took him, and all those who admired perhaps the finest second baseman who ever lived.”

Confident and cocky, he also was copied. His habit of flapping his back elbow as a way to keep it high when hitting was imitated by many a Little Leaguer in Cincinnati and beyond.

Health issues had slowed down Morgan in recent years. Knee surgery forced him to use a cane when he went onto the field at Great American Ball Park before the 2015 All-Star Game and he later needed a bone marrow transplant for an illness.

In his prime, Morgan helped to revolutionize the game with his quickness and many talents, especially once he hit the turf at Riverfront Stadium.

“Packed unusual power into his extraordinarily quick 150-lb. fireplug frame,” he was praised on his Hall of Fame plaque.

Morgan got his start with Houston in 1963, when the team was called the .45s and still played on grass. Once he became a full-time player in 1965 when the club became the Astros and moved into the Astrodome, he began to provide a glimpse of what speedy, multi-skilled players could do on the new kind of turf.

The Reds had already built a formidable team, but they came up short in 1970, losing to Baltimore in the World Series. Cincinnati made a shocking trade for Morgan after the 1971 season, giving up slugger Lee May and All-Star second baseman Tommy Helms in an eight-player swap.

Morgan turned out to be exactly what the Reds needed to take the next step.

“Joe fit in with the rest of us like the missing link in the puzzle,” Rose once said.

Rose was the dashing singles hitter, on his way to becoming the game’s career hits leader. Bench supplied the power. Perez was the clutch hitter. And Morgan did a bit of everything, slashing hits and stealing bases whenever needed.

Morgan got plenty of chances, too. Skilled at drawing walks, and helped by a small strike zone, he led the NL in on-base percentage in four of his first five years with the Reds, and finished with a career mark of .392.

“That’s when the game went to more speed,” Rose said. “There were guys who did more, but Joe stole bases when everyone at the park knew he would. He didn’t waste steals. He made them count. Joe probably could have stolen more. Lots of guys just steal to run up the numbers, and then they can’t when it counts to win the game. Joe made them count.”

Morgan scored a major league-leading 122 runs in his first season with the Reds and they reached the 1972 World Series, where they lost in seven games to Oakland.

The two championship seasons were his finest, making him the dominant second baseman of his time — many rated him as the greatest ever to play the position.

Morgan hit .327 with 17 homers, 94 RBIs and 67 stolen bases in 1975, then followed with a .320 average, 27 homers, 111 RBIs and 60 steals the next year. He was only the fifth second baseman in the NL to drive in more than 100 runs and also led the league in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage in 1976.

A series of injuries in the late 1970s diminished Morgan’s production — the years of throwing his body around on the turf had taken a toll. The Reds decided to dismantle the Big Red Machine, prompting Morgan to also leave.

He spent the 1980 season with Houston, helping the Astros to a NL West title. He played two seasons with San Francisco, and later was reunited with Rose and Perez in Philadelphia.

Morgan hit two home runs in the 1983 World Series as the Phillies lost in five games to Baltimore, and tripled in his final at-bat.

Morgan finished as a career .182 hitter in 50 post-season games. He played in 11 different series and batted over .273 in just one of them, a stat that surprises many considering his big-game reputation.

Raised in Oakland, Morgan returned to the Bay Area and played the 1984 season with the Athletics before retiring.

Morgan set the NL record for games played at second, ranked among the career leaders in walks and was an All-Star in every one of his years with the Reds.

After his playing career, he spent years as an announcer for the Reds, Giants and A’s, along with ESPN, NBC, ABC and CBS. He was on the board of the Hall of Fame and the Baseball Assistance Team.

Morgan was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1990. The Reds also inducted him into their Hall of Fame and retired his number.

“He did it all, and he did it all the time,” said Bench, the first member of the Big Red Machine to enter the Hall. “I always thought that Joe was the best player I ever played with, and that takes in a lot of ground.”

Morgan recognized his place on one of baseball’s all-time greatest teams.

?Bench probably had the most raw baseball ability of any of us,” Morgan said before his Hall of Fame induction. “Pete obviously had the most determination to make himself the player he was. Perez was the unsung hero. I guess I was just a guy who could do a lot of things.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Theresa;r twin daughters Kelly and Ashley; and daughters Lisa and Angela from his first marriage to Gloria Morgan.

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Players, fans rip Rays for Blake Snell’s quick hook in Game 6 – Sportsnet.ca

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Heading into the sixth inning, Blake Snell was holding the Los Angeles Dodgers offence in check.

Then Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash decided to take the ball from his ace after he gave up his second hit of the game. Unfortunately, that pitching change provided the spark the Dodgers needed as they would score two runs including one off a wild pitch to take the lead in Game 6.

Many took to social media to question Cash’s decision to pull Snell after just 73 pitches.

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Dodgers can win elusive World Series title if Roberts pulls right strings – Sportsnet.ca

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After suffering a heartbreaking defeat in the most bizarre fashion imaginable in Game 4, the Los Angeles Dodgers rebounded in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series.

Now the Dodgers are just one victory away from slaying their past playoff demons and finally capturing that elusive title.

But the Rays aren’t just going to roll over and hand them the crown. Tampa Bay has its ace on the mound in Blake Snell and manager Kevin Cash hinted at some lineup changes to help spark the offence.

Will the Dodgers close it out or will the Rays force a Game 7? Tune in to Sportsnet or SN Now at 8 p.m. ET to find out. In the meantime, here’s what to watch for prior to first pitch.

Watch every game of the 2020 World Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers on Sportsnet and SN Now.

Roberts gets another chance to pull the right strings

The last time Tony Gonsolin started in this series, he lasted just 1.1 innings in what ended up as a bullpen day for the Dodgers in Game 2.

Manager Dave Roberts claims things will be different in Game 6, declaring Gonsolin a “starter” as opposed to an “opener.” Roberts did couch it a little, though.

“I’m going to watch him pitch and then we’ll see what we do after that,” Roberts told reporters Monday. “… I want to go as long as he possibly can, that’d be great.”

Considering Roberts pulled Clayton Kershaw after 85 pitches in Game 5 when he appeared to be cruising, it’s hard to imagine the 25-year-old Gonsolin having a long leash. The bullpen is fully rested after Monday’s off day, giving Roberts his full complement of weapons.

Game 2 didn’t go so well for Roberts as he watched a number of decisions backfire en route to a 6-4 Rays victory. Now the ever-unconventional manager has another chance to flex his strategic muscles and deliver the franchise’s first title since 1988.

Snell must be sharp from the jump

Los Angeles was aggressive from the opening pitch over the weekend, striking for at least one first-inning run in each of the past three games. It will be crucial for Snell to come out of the gate and put a zero on the board to prevent his opponents from building any quick momentum.

Snell was able to limit the Dodgers to two runs over 4.2 innings in Game 2 while striking out nine, but those numbers don’t tell the full story. The left-hander walked four batters and gave up plenty of hard contact. Five of the seven balls put in play against him came off Dodger bats at 95 m.p.h. or harder.

The 2018 Cy Young winner will need to be extra careful this time around, as it’ll be the Dodgers’ second look at him in six days.

MVP Watch

If the Dodgers do indeed take care of business in Game 6, three players stand out for World Series MVP honours, each with a different storyline attached.

The rejuvenated young star: Corey Seager

It wasn’t too long ago that Seager was considered one of the game’s rising superstars. His 2018 season was limited to just 26 games due to Tommy John surgery but his 2020 campaign has put him back in the mix with baseball’s elite.

His regular season was phenomenal — he posted a .943 OPS — and he’s been even better in the playoffs. After winning NLCS MVP, he’s still raking in the World Series with a .471/.609/.842 slash line. If not for the bizarre Rays win in Game 4, Seager would likely have already earned his second MVP trophy of the post-season. The race is Seager’s to lose at this point.

The franchise icon: Justin Turner

Turner has set a number of franchise records during this playoff run and stands as the Dodgers’ post-season leader in games played, hits, walks, RBIs and home runs. He’s been a hit machine during this World Series, as evidenced by his .364/.391/.818 batting line.

An 0-for-4 Game 6 from Seager and another big performance from Turner could easily tip the scales in the third baseman’s favour. He’s a free agent at the end of the year and winning World Series MVP in what could be his final game in a Dodger uniform would be extremely poetic.

The late-bloomer who became a hero: Max Muncy

Muncy was released by the Oakland Athletics at the end of spring training in 2017, prompting the Dodgers to sign him as a minor-league free agent. He’s become a star at the MLB level since his promotion in 2018 and finds himself entrenched in the heart of one of baseball’s best lineups.

Like Seager and Turner, Muncy has been on fire during the World Series, slashing .389/.522/.611. If he provides a clutch hit or two in Game 6 to clinch the title, it would be easy to make the case he deserves MVP.

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Friends and former Oilers remember beloved local sports figure Joey Moss – CBC.ca

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Reaction from across Edmonton and the hockey world is pouring in for beloved local sports figure Joey Moss.

Moss, 57, died on Monday afternoon. He was a locker room attendant for the Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton Football Team for decades and was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Moss, who was born with Down syndrome, got his start with the Oilers during the 1984-85 season after Wayne Gretzky noticed him catching a bus in the winter and convinced the team’s general manager, Glen Sather, to find a role for him in the locker room.

Gretzky told CBC Edmonton Tuesday he has heard from many other former Oilers talk about how much the longtime local sports presence did for all of them.

“He’s a special young man,” Gretzky.

“He was a close friend and he made me smile each day and those are things I won’t forget.” 

Edmonton AM8:10Remembering Joey Moss

He proved no matter the obstacle, anything can be achieved. We remember the life of Joey Moss. 8:10

Gretzky quickly developed a bond with Moss, partly because he had an aunt in his family who also had Down syndrome. The two lived together for a year and a half while Gretzky played for the Oilers. But his memories of Moss don’t just revolve around what he did for the Oilers, Gretzky said, adding that Moss was an inspiration for parents of children with disabilities.

“As much as Joey did for all of us, and he did a lot … [he] gave their kids opportunities and I think that’s what people are most thankful about,” Gretzky said.

Moss was also remembered by former members of the Oilers’ training staff who shared their condolences and memories of him on Tuesday.

“I really feel like he made everyone in that room a better person when he left that room,” said former equipment manager Lyle ‘Sparky’ Kulchisky, who said he was thankful to see Moss in hospital on Sunday to say goodbye.

Former head equipment-manager Barrie Stafford added that the team’s players and staff were energized by Moss throughout his more than 30-year career with the team.

“He wasn’t afraid to bark back at any player, it didn’t matter who they were whether it was the coach or Wayne or whoever,” Stafford said.

“He was just a ball of joy and happiness and he passed that on all the time.”

Mayor Don Iveson was emotional when talking about Moss’ death on Tuesday, calling it heartbreaking news for the city.

“As mayor, I got to meet him a number of times and (he’s) just a delightful human being, and it’s sad,” Iveson said.

“He was a great guy, so the loss is deeply felt in our city today.”

A memorial for Joey Moss was placed on Tuesday in front of the mural painted of Moss in 2008. (Min Dhariwal/CBC News)

During his life, Moss was honoured with the NHL Alumni Association’s “Seventh Man Award” for behind-the-scene efforts in the lives of others, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and a mural in Edmonton for his work with both of the city’s major sports teams.

Twitter users shared their own memories of Moss on Tuesday, both as an inspirational and motivating figure, and as a community member in Edmonton.

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