We're getting Joe right now!
One of the things we had talked about before these series started is that in a short series if you make any mistakes in closing out the games, you are not going to be able to win. If in a short series, if you give away one game, it usually means you are going to lose the series. In the series, the closers of the losing teams could not close out the series and in the case of one team, a mistake of an outfielder helped them not be able to close out the game. In a longer series, you have a little more room for error for closing the series out. But in a shorter one, it's harder to regain your balance if you blow a save. St. Louis should have been going home 1-1, Minnesota should have been going home 1-1, Boston should have been 2-1, Colorado should have been 2-2 going back to Philadelphia. A lot of times it's not just the closers, it's the defensive play as well.
In the case of the Twins, they made a lot of base running mistakes also.
Mr. Hall of Fame Joe Morgan, what do you think the dodgers need to do if they are able to turn the tide and advance to the world series by beating philly?
Well, the Dodgers need to play as they did against the Cardinals. The Cardinals were the favorite, but they were not intimidated. This year, they'll play the first game at home, whereas last year it was played in Philly. The Dodgers are on a roll right now and I wouldn't put it past them to beat the Phillies. But the Phillies' power is still going to be a key element to this series.
Did you ever play in a postseason game where it snowed?
The very first Sunday Night game was played in Cincinnati against the Yankees and that would have been in 1976, I think. I think it had maybe snowed a little bit that morning, but it was a night game and it was just cold and not snowing. The answer is probably no. I've played in days where it snowed, but not games where it snowed. The very first game I played in Cincinnati after I was traded, it snowed and I thought the game had been cancelled. Pete Rose called me and said get to the ballpark. I was from California and wasn't used to playing baseball after it had snowed.
Do the Yanks have the pitching to keep the Angels off the bases and keep them from scoring runs?
I don't think anybody can shut the Angels down completely. They have a couple of very good hitters, guys right around .300. They also will work some walks other than Vlad. I don't think they'll keep them off the bases. Once they get on base, they'll try to take advantage of the Yankees starters, by disrupting them by stealing bases. The Yankees' power will be very important to the Yankees. They'll have to hit it out of the park to beat the Angels. The Twins had to work hard to score runs and then the Yankees would offset that with one swing of the bat. Can the Angels pitchers keep the Yankees hitters from dominating with their power like they did against the Twins? My answer is, I think they will. I think this will be a good series. It will be a good example of how there is more than one way to play the game. The Yankees will play with power and the Angels with speed and fundamentals.
Do you think the Phillies can still win if Cole Hamels continues to struggle?
Yes. In a seven game series, I think they can. They have enough power and good hitting to offset some inadequacies that they have with their starting pitching. The Phillies are a very interesting team to me. Harry Kalas, their former annoucner and my close friend, always called them the Fightin' Phils. They fight to the end. I think they're a very interesting team because of that. You don't know what you're going to get, but they always fight hard to the end.
A great example is that we always talk about the strikeouts that Ryan Howard has, but he was in the spotlight last night tying up the game. He didn't strikeout. You just never know what you're going to get other than great effort.
Joe, honestly... if you were the manager of the Phillies, would you have had the confidence to go with Lidge those last two games?
I said this at the beginning of the postseason - the only way the Phillies can win the championship and repeat is if Lidge is closing the games. You can't do it with someone knew to the situation. Lidge has proven that he can do it in the past. My answer is yes, because that's the only way they can do it. You can't win the championship without an established closer. It shows you how great Mariano Rivera is and has been throughout his career.
He's been unbelievable as far as closing out games in the postseason. But I think Lidge is very capable of getting the job done in the postseason. I don't know if everyone noticed, but Charlie Manuel did something great in the first game in Colorado. He went out to Lidge and was very emphatically telling Lidge that he wants him to go out there and throw the ball hard and we'll see what happens. Lidge got out of the jam throwing all fastballs. I think we'll see him be very aggressive.
Do you think the Red Sox would have beaten LA if Varitek was behind the plate? He's such a great game caller, certainly he would have helped.
I don't agree. I think Varitek obviously has been good at calling pitches over the years, but what I saw down the stretch is he wasn't as good defensively blocking pitches. Offensively, he wasn't going to add anything. I'm one of these people who believe pitchers, the good pitchers, call their own games. I've seen Lester call Varitek off. I've seen Beckett do the same thing. I don't think he could have made a difference in that series. I saw Burnett pitch a one-hitter against the Red Sox in seven innings in August as he matched up against Beckett and Posada was catching. The next time he gave up some home runs and it was Posada's fault. I just think that a catcher makes a difference if he's a great defensive catcher, but in this case, the pitchers pitched well up to a point. I don't think it would have made any difference.
I like how you point out that the Angles will beat the yankees with speed, although the yankees have a better stolen base percentage, the Angles do have 37 more stolen bases and will keep posada busy. Who takes the series?
It's hard for me to pick a winner until I see them start to play. The other thing about a lot of stolen base attempts - you keep the infielders jumpy on defense and you stay in the pitcher's mind. It changes the pitch calling. You won't see a lot of changeups. The catcher has to call something hard like a fastball or slider. That will change how they pitch in certain situations. It's not just the stolen base, but the threat as well. It's all going to depend on Sabathia and then Burnett. I think Sabathia can get the job done, I'm not so sure about Burnett.
But, the Yankees will be hitting the ball out of the ballpark, especially in Yankee Stadium. It's a small ballpark. The Yankees are built for that park. They have a lot of fly ball hitters and power pitchers who strike out a lot of batters.
Do you think the Dodgers pitching is strong enough to hold the Phillies line-up at bay, like they did the Cardinals line-up and move on to the world series?
I've said this from the beginning and I've said it for several years now -- every team in the playoffs can win the world championship. It seems strange, but you only have to go 11-8 to win the championship. You only have to win 11 of 19 games and every team has probably done that at some time. I think the Dodgers can win, but at the same time, I think the Phillies will probably be favored. The home field gives the Dodgers an edge. If I'm pressed, I think it will be the Phillies and Yankees in the World Series, but I can just as easily say that it could be the Angels and Dodgers.
When do you think the Phillies are going to use Pedro? Do you think he's going to have success against the Dodgers?
I thought he pitched great. He pitched the Sunday Night game that we did in the regular season. I can't believe they left him in there to throw 120 or so pitches, but he pitched great. He didn't pitch well after that because he injured his neck. But I think he can get through a lineup for 5-6 innings. I think they will use him. Against a team like the Dodgers with a lot of young hitters, his changeup and knowledge of pitching, I think he pitches pretty well against the Dodgers.
I think any time the game goes to the late innings to be decided, the Yankees have an advantage over the Angels because of their one-swing capability. And any times it goes to the late innings in the NL, I think the Dodgers have the advantage over the Phillies because of their bullpen and we don't know if Lidge is fully back yet.
Thanks for chatting Joe!