I know Jack Morris was hired by the Blue Jays over a week ago and I should have commented sooner. I'm sorry for the delay. It's just that I have been giddy... literally giddy... deliriously giddy at the thought of Jack Morris joining the Blue Jays' broadcast team. Of course, that's because I'm a Twins fan.
See, I have a day job, and unfortunately for me, sometimes the Twins play day games, and I can't watch from my desk. On those occasions I'm forced to listen to the radio broadcasts. Roughly once a week I've been "treated" to either Jack Morris or Dan Gladden polluting my ear holes by pretending to be color commentators, a service for which they are presumably paid in real American money (note: this is not a smart-ass, US-centric clichéd joke about how your currency is silly looking) to provide "analysis" about grit, hustle, battling tails off, toughing it out, playing through pain, and grinding.
Deep breath. Now that you have a Jack Morris of your very own, you're going to want to know how best to use him so as to minimize hearing damage.*
*I'm not saying Jack Morris is too loud. I'm saying I don't want you trying to puncture your eardrums with safety pins to get away from the sound of his voice.
Here are a few tips:
1. Learn to love not just Jack Morris the broadcaster, but Jack Morris the concept.
The first, and most important, thing to remember as you listen to Jack Morris is how great Jack Morris was, or at least how great Jack Morris thinks he was. Morris lives in an indestructible, nostalgic bubble too airtight to allow a whiff of irony. He believes that the world he pitched in was inherently better, simpler, tougher, and less selfish. If you listen to Jack, you'd think he not only pitched 10 scoreless innings in Game Seven of 1991, but psyched Lonnie Smith out so he wouldn't score, and drove the winning fly ball to the warning track to score himself too. There is no bigger fan of Jack Morris than Jack Morris, and Jack Morris is more than happy to tell you all about that. He'll happily recount each of his 254 victories, and how he would relax when his team gave him a big lead, which is why his ERA isn't so hot. Oh, Jack Morris buys into the legend of Jack Morris without reservation, and if you're going to enjoy the Blue Jays without your head exploding like a robot overwhelmed by a logic bomb, so should you.
2. Forget every single cliché you've ever heard about baseball.
Ultimately, your ability to enjoy Jack Morris effectively is going to depend on your ability to tolerate the same things other broadcasters have told you over and over again. While Jack Morris may have been one of the better pitchers of the 1980s (who nevertheless couldn't hold a candle to Dave Stieb, by the way), he is not one of the most original, and everything he learned about broadcasting the game he seemingly learned from Rick Sutcliffe. Just pretend that you've never heard that it's important to be aggressive on the bases or that players should just rub a little dirt on their open wounds and enjoy the folksy wisdom.
3. Don't argue with your radio.
Even when he makes a mind-bogglingly erroneous statement, like how important it is to bunt the runner over in the first inning or that pitchers in his day finished the games they started and pitched through pain, don't fight back. Jack can't hear you, and even if he could hear you, he's not likely to recognize your strongly logical argument with anything more than a puzzled look and a condescending reassurance that you'd know better if had ever played the game at its highest level -- which Jack Morris has. Has he told you that yet? And when he tells you your new, Cy Young Award-winning ace, who you traded significant resources to acquire is "a one dimensional guy with that knuckleball," try not to scream at your radio or threaten to throw it out your window. After all, Jack Morris never won a Cy Young Award, so those don't matter. Further, he'll never acknowledge having heard of Phil or Joe Niekro, Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough, Hoyt Wilhelm, or any of the other knucklers who found success at the major-league level. Rub a little dirt on your ego and just accept the fact that Jack is right, even when he's not.
Jack's got a million of ‘em, and they usually aren't even sexist anymore! I hope you love to laugh and have a really low threshold for what you find funny.
5. Build up a tolerance.
The baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint, and the good news is that you still have time to train. Start each day by listening to a recording of someone squeaking chalk across a chalkboard. Start at 10 minutes. Once you've mastered that, gradually increase the period you're listening until you can eventually listen to three consecutive hours of squeaking chalk against a chalkboard without flinching. Congratulations, you're ready to listen to a sincerely deep, gravelly voice that's unemotional and clipped and, to me anyway, one of the most grating sounds in the history of broadcast journalism.
So enjoy Jack Morris, Canada. Thank you, thank you, thank you for granting him a work visa. I am eternally grateful. Now, while I have you here, can I also interest you in taking Dan Gladden too?