ESPN's Joe Morgan
Many people dream of being one of the best in their profession, but a rare few ever reach that peak. Then there's Joe Morgan
, a guy for whom the mountaintop is very
familiar territory. An integral cog in Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" throughout the '70s, Morgan won back-to-back MVP awards and was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame in 1990 — his first year of eligibility. After retirement, the legendary second baseman moved to the broadcast booth, where he's garnered two Emmys for his work as an analyst. This year he's nominated for another. With summer quickly approaching and the baseball season heating up, TVGuide.com threw some questions at the Texas native.
TVGuide.com: Do you still feel that sense of excitement at the beginning of each baseball season?
Joe Morgan: Yeah, I think the only time I really miss playing the game are Opening Day and the World Series. Those are the times I really wish I was still playing.
TVGuide.com: Does getting out on the field to do segments with today's players ever make you nostalgic?
Morgan: I always like walking on a baseball field, whether it's in a major-league ballpark or at my local high school. I've heard it said that it's the most perfect design created by man. It's prettier than a football field and better than a basketball court. The mixture of the green grass and the dirt... everything just comes together perfectly.
TVGuide.com: You and Jon Miller have great chemistry on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts. What makes it such a great pairing?
Morgan: Well, I think we've helped each other over the years. I think I took the game too seriously. When you walk away, you still have that attitude that winning is the only thing. I don't like to use clichés like "life or death," but your day is ruined if you don't win. Jon has helped me lighten up and have some fun with the game, and I think I've helped him take it a little more seriously. He was much more casual about winning and losing when we first started out.
TVGuide.com: It sounds like you're a pretty competitive guy.
Morgan: I don't think I've ever been able to remove my competitiveness from anything I do. When I was in business, when I was in school, and when I walk into the broadcast booth, I want to be as good as I can possibly be. As a broadcaster, I don't compete with Jon or anybody else; I compete with myself to be better with each broadcast.
TVGuide.com: A lot has been made of the steroid controversy in baseball. Do you think it's had an effect on how fans view the game?
Morgan: That's a very interesting question. I'd love to say yes, because I'd like to think baseball fans look at things realistically. I'm not a purist — I like a lot of the things that have changed about the game — but there are certain things that should remain pure. One of those things is the competitive nature of the game. Steroids have affected the competition between players, because it gives some players an unfair advantage. So therefore I don't like it, but I think it's probably affected the fans less than it should.
TVGuide.com: Should fans take steroid use into account when evaluating player performances from the recent past?
Morgan: I think you have to. We can say whatever we want, but there has been a steroid era. Let's hope we're at the end of it. I think we are.
TVGuide.com: So you think Major League Baseball's crackdown on performance-enhancing drugs will alleviate their usage?
Morgan: I think it will alleviate most of it. I think there's always that 1 percent that thinks they can get away with it, but I think the drug testing and the penalties will keep a lot of players from venturing into that realm.
TVGuide.com: You're nominated again this year for the Sports Emmy for best analyst. Is there any comparison between winning an Emmy and earning baseball's most-valuable-player honor?
Morgan: I guess there is because, like we talked about before, I'm competitive in everything I do. When I won the MVP awards, I was a baseball player and I got paid for that. Now, I get paid to be a broadcaster, so I approach that in the same way I approached baseball. [The Emmys] are as important to me now as the MVPs were at the time I was playing. As the old saying goes, "If I put my name on it, I want it to be the best." My father taught me that.
TVGuide.com: Who are your early favorites for the World Series?
Morgan: Well, I made a promise to myself that I'd never go against the Yankees after they won four out of five [from 1996-2000]. But every year since then, they've lost. So I guess I start with the Yankees, but there are a lot of teams that have a chance this year. We've reached that football type of parity. But right now the teams that jump to my mind are St. Louis, Oakland, Boston, the Yankees and the Mets.
TVGuide.com: You've had a great amount of success in both baseball and broadcasting. Are there any future challenges you plan to take on?
Morgan: Not right now. You know, I tell people, "I have the second-best job in the world. The only job better is playing." So I've had the two best jobs in the world. I mean that. I wouldn't trade being a baseball player with anything else, and now I don't see anything else I'd rather do than be a broadcaster.