Cleveland Indians starter Cliff Lee set out to prove in front of a national audience on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball that the Cubs' offense was not the most anemic in the NL Central as he mowed down the St. Louis Cardinals offense, holding the birds without a hit through seven innings. To lead off the Cardinal eighth, Yadier Molina dropped a double down the right field line to end the festivities. Or so we thought, as Mr. Morgan dropped this gem with verbatim proof offered by Deadspin:
I guess I can tell this story now, one of my great experiences when I was a young player. Don Wilson was pitching a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves. They had Orlando Cepeda, Rico Carty, Felipe Alou and Hank Aaron, of course. And they got to the ninth inning, he got two outs, no one on base, and Hank Aaron was the hitter. And in my infinite wisdom, I ran in to the mound. I said, "You know, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if Hank Aaron walked right here. He said, "Get back to second base." I proceeded to go back to second base. He threw three fastballs right by Hank Aaron. No-hitter."
Great story. Compelling. Utter. Complete. Lie. As pointed out by a box score and a wonderfully kind Deadspin tipster. See, Joe Morgan didn't play in that game, and the only way he could have done that would have included Morgan sprinting from his spot in the dugout, knocking out second baseman Julio Gotay (with a cookie sheet?) and assuming his spot on the infield.
Unfortunately for Morgan, this is not the first such reference as yours truly will take you back to a blog he operated just before I moved all my sports content here to TBDS.
Here is the excerpt from ESPN's wise baseball sage:
"The basket was actually put there when Ernie Banks played and a lot of balls were hit that way and umpires had a problem with it. They actually started calling it 'Banks Boulevard' because he hit a lot of balls into that basket."
And the response from the world's youngest Cubs historian:
"[T]he statement implies that many of Ernie Banks' 512 home runs were cheap, basket shots. ... the fact that Joe Morgan was absolutely WRONG with the statement because of the 512 home runs that Banks hit, only eight (8!!!!) were hit at Wrigley Field after the basket was put up in April 1970. Of the eight (8!!!!) I know that his 500th did NOT go into the basket because I've seen the video tape a million and one times. ... And even if he hit the other seven into the basket (7!!!!), that would mean that 7 of his 512 home runs were basket shots. That's only 1.3 percent, not nearly the amount necessary to get the basket named after him."
The thing that bothered me is that Morgan had a clear opportunity to apologize for his fauxpas the next week as the ESPN telecast moved to the South Side of Chicago for a Cubs-Sox Sunday night game. And did he, of course not? Why? Because Joe Morgan will do or say anything just to spite the Cubs. He makes Cardinals and White Sox fans look like they are accepting of Cubbie blue.
Still, whether it be broadcast, print or online journalism, it is generally frowned upon when you fabricate something out of nothing. Shoot, ESPN rode a blogger for writing what everyone's thinking when it comes to speculation about career years. Think the World Wide Leader will even come close to reprimanding its own "expert" for making up stories?
Probably not. C'mon, they've hired Steve Phillips and Jim Bowden as "experts" despite running franchises into the ground.
It Wasn't So, Joe [Deadspin]
Joe Must Go [Bloggers Are People Too]