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Jon Miller on stats, Joe Morgan, Jack Morris, Earl Weaver and more

Apr 8, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT

jon miller

David Laurila of FanGraphs did a Q&A with Giants broadcaster Jon Miller. It deals mostly with statistics and how he as a broadcaster understands and uses them. It also touches a lot on his former ESPN broadcast partner, Joe Morgan, and whether the book on him — that he as perhaps the perfect sabermetric ballplayer yet, as an analyst, failed to grasp what made players like him great — is fair or not.  Miller goes on to talk about a couple other sabermetric causes, Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris.

I feel, overall, Miller was being a bit too charitable with Morgan and Morris. Miller is too nice to bury anyone, of course, and those guys are fellow broadcasters so perhaps that explains it, but I feel like he’s biting his tongue a bit. No way he believes that pitching to the score jive, right?

But if there are any flaws with what Miller has to say, they’re made up for with a great Earl Weaver anecdote:

I saw Earl Weaver put on a suicide squeeze bunt, in Milwaukee. It worked. Everybody asked him, ‘Wait, we thought you told us you didn’t even have a sign for a suicide squeeze, because you hated it so much.’ Earl said, ‘I still don’t.’ I asked him, ‘How did you put it on then?’ He said, ‘I whistled at Cal Ripken, Sr., my third base coach. Then I shouted at him, ‘Squeeze! Squeeze! Then I motioned a bunt.’ I said, ‘Paul Molitor was playing third. Didn’t he hear you?’ Earl said, ‘If he did, I’m sure he thought there was no way we were putting it on, or I wouldn’t have been yelling for it.’

Good read all around.

  1. nolanwiffle - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    One more reason to dislike Peter Angelos. He ran this guy out of Baltimore.

    • APBA Guy - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:55 PM

      Amen. There was no greater way to build anticipation than walking along the concourse hearing Miller’s voice being piped in before the game. When he got run out by Angelos I hadn’t heard where he’d landed, then one day on a business trip I was taking a client to a ball game in SF and heard Miller’s voice again, being piped in at the ‘Stick before a game. Heaven.

  2. Hunter Pence's Eyes - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    It’s a pleasure to listen to him on the daily – Love the way he weaves stories and humor into his broadcasts.

  3. natstowngreg - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    I miss his outstanding Vin Scully impersonations. “Cerulean blue sky…”

    • sophiethegreatdane - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:40 PM

      I miss Jon Miller’s impressions of a Mexican broadcaster doing impressions of Chuck Thompson. Great stuff.

  4. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    “I think a lot of people misunderstand that the numbers themselves — those formulas — are generally based on the season being 162 games. To take one game in October, and manage it based on those numbers, is where Joe would have a disagreement.

    That’s a phenomenal point, if Joe every actually said that! It was too many, “i played the game, no computer can tell me what to do” bullshit we got on espn.com chats far too often.

    • danaking - Apr 8, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      I’ve been reading Baseball Abstracts and similar books since the early 80s, and the point Miller makes is well-taken. The stats don’t lie, and over time playing to the percentages is the way to go. For one at bat, one pitch in that at bat? Maybe not. Here’s an example: stats can show the pitcher like to waste a curve down and away on a 1-2 pitch 80% of the time. But today his fastball is a tick or two above average, with good movement, and he’s putting it where he wants. Sit on that curve–like the numbers say to do– and you might well watch Strike 3 right down the middle. Look fastball, even thoough the numbers say otherwise, and you may get to trot around the bases.

      That’s one day, under those specific conditions. Do it for a whole year and you’ll look like an ass, and probably get to do it in AAA.

  5. cur68 - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Jon Miller’s broadcast style is the Maple Syrup of baseball. And not that High Fructose Corn Syrup American stuff, either. I mean the stuff you get that was tapped from an obliging Sugar Maple by a French Canadian guy who uses the proceeds of his annual Maple Syrup Harvest to either support separating from Canada or take long winter vacations in Florida. The kind of guy who claims to speak no English, except when he’s trying to beat a traffic ticket in Miami, smokes French “Surrender Is Always an Option” cigarettes, and thinks Pierre Trudeau is the devil and not really dead and is coming to get him. THAT’S how nice Jon Miller broadcasts are to listen too. Joe Morgan’s style, on the other hand, is HFC, American Maple Syrup. Its made by robots.

    • heyblueyoustink - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:46 PM

      Just one extravagant compliment from making the true identity of the ” Most Interesting Man in the World” : Jon Miller

    • lookatmike - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      That would explain my lifelong association between Jon Miller and pancakes.

  6. anxovies - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    I always enjoyed hearing Jon Miller and Joe Morgan call a ball game. Morgan’s tough-minded approach to the game and his sometimes acerbic comments about the modern game put a lot of people off but they more are less tracked my feelings about the video game approach to baseball. A whole raft of statistics will never explain Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series homerun or its value to the team that went on to win the series over the A’s. And speaking of the Dodgers, I liked Miller’s low-key and friendly approach to broadcasting much more than Scully’s low-key and smarmy style. Jon could make you relax and enjoy the game without giving you the feeling that he had overdosed on Prozac.

    • Ari Collins - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:57 PM

      Nobody is trying to “explain” the emotional effect of Kirk Gibson’s World Series homerun in statistical formats. We’re just trying to get people to realize that bunting is usually a bad idea.

      • JB (the original) - Apr 8, 2013 at 4:23 PM

        It was all in the limp…..

  7. randygnyc - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Quick witted, golden throated talent. Not quite the unobtanium that’s is Mr Vin Scully, but the second best talent alive today.

  8. southpaw2k - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    Awesome Earl Weaver story. I hadn’t heard that one before.

  9. xmatt0926x - Apr 8, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    It may be strange but I was always fascinated by his hair, going back to when I was a kid. Instead of cutting it close like most bald men do he has always let what he had grow long enough to comb it straight down and over his ears. He always struck me as some guy from a 19th century Charles Dickens story. That’s my contribution for the day.

  10. norcalsportsknowledge - Apr 8, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    Nothing better then watching a Gigantes game on TV and muting the channel, so I can listen to Jon call the game on radio. Nobody does it better.

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