In this episode of ESPN Baseball Today, Jack Morris talks about momentum and karma and chemistry and momentum. But also momentum.
Jack Morris: You know, it's [an] amazing run for the Giants right now. I kinda threw 'em away for dead after they headed out to go play in Cincinnati. I thought it was over right there and then! And somehow they've managed to come back in two series now, so maybe there's some karma going out there.
"Out there" is either San Francisco or the cosmos. It's hard to tell.
Eric Karabell: "Karma." You just said the magic word. We've talked about karma quite a bit on this show -- karma, momentum -- you buy that stuff, really?
Jack Morris: I do. I think it's one of the things in baseball that stats can't define, you know. It's kinda like chemistry, the team chemistry. It's not a definable thing in stats, so it really blows those guys out of the water.
"Those guys" means you and me, obviously.
Morris has been on the air for a minute, and he can't help himself from getting a clumsy dig in at the Bill James set. Just as Hawk Harrelson and Steve Stone couldn't get through two innings of this year's first televised White Sox spring training game without ripping into Theo Epstein and "that money 'Movieball.'"
To the extent there's a war between baseball's new and old schools, it's not being waged in the front offices of Major Leauge Baseball teams. Its battlefield is broadcast booths and newsrooms. And in this war, the old school are the aggressors.
Eric Karabell: Now, you know a few things about Game Sevens. So going into that game last night -- you had the Giants, a team that had done well the past two games, you had the Cardinals, a team that suddenly wasn't hitting -- did you know the Giants were going to win going into that game, based on those things?
Jack Morris: I did not know. If I know, I'd be in Vegas, and you'd be paying me all the time! I don't know those things, but you know, you see tendencies and you see the rhythm of a postseason, the ups and downs and, you know, a little thing can change the momentum and the karma and all the things we just mentioned.
Like momentum. Oh, you said momentum? Well, you can never put too much emphasis on momentum. He who carries the momentum is king!
Eric Karabell: Let's break it down a little bit here: Giants/Tigers. The Tigers got here based a little bit on their rotation and their MVP candidate. The Giants just keep winning elimination games. Who do you like?
Jack Morris: Well, you know, if you had asked me a week and a half ago, it'd have been a slam dunk Tigers, all the way, you know, maybe even a sweep, but I see Zito pitching better, and I see Cain maybe peaking now instead of a week ago. You know, it's all gonna come down to the guy on the mound and who controls the momentum of the game...
So the pitcher is in charge of the momentum.
Eric Karabell: Have you ever been in a situation like this before, where you had to wait almost to play a game?
Jack Morris: I never did in all the the postseason games we played, we never had that long a wait, and it's tough. You really, you know, you lose a little momentum. Physically, you're waiting around, waiting around. So that excitement level that you had burning inside of you is slowly, you know, going away.
That's Ganesh stealing your karma.
Eric Karabell: Are you better than Justin Verlander? Now, Verlander had a great year, he should win the Cy Young, I think. You were a Tiger pitcher for a while...
Just say no. In no universe were you better than Justin Verlander.
Jack Morris: You know, it's the old antage [sic], is it Joe Louis or Marciano? I don't know. You know, Justin's really, really good right now and, you know, he's the guy in baseball, he's on a good team. I would stack my teams up with anybody in the history of the game, but it's all speculative, anyway. We don't know.
Yeah, we do.
Eric Karabell: You buy "momentum," though, I mean you said you bought it for the Giants' winning these last couple games. They had it --
Jack Morris: -- They have it.
Eric Karabell: -- I would think going into the Series, right?
Jack Morris: -- No question. They have it, and they've been the team that's been playing through these off days that Detroit has. With that being said, it's up to Justin Verlander in Game One, 'cause he can change that momentum in one game.
Momentum is vitally important because whoever has the momentum wins. But during a game, momentum can be easily transferred from one team to another by the pitcher via a mysterious process called karma. I think I've got it now.