Sunday night on ESPN the Cardinals were beating the Phillies, 10-0, in the eighth inning.
That was before ESPN's pathetic ESPY Awards, but after ESPN's pathetic "Who's Now?" segment, and before and after ESPN's pathetic sudden enthusiasm for the Arena Football League, which until this year, when it became an ESPN property, ESPN ignored.
Cardinals-Phillies was part of ESPN's pathetic "Sunday Night Baseball" coverage. The Phillies were about to become the first Major League Baseball team to 10,000 losses. And Joe Morgan, ESPN's No. 1 baseball analyst, a fellow whose wisdom is often laced with convoluted, confounding and contradictory nonsense, was moved to tell a national audience about the significant role he played in Phillies history.
The year, Morgan told us, was 1964, that calamitous season when the Phillies blew a 61/2-game lead with 12 games left by losing 10 straight. Morgan said he made his major-league debut late in '64, against the Phillies. And it was in that game that his RBI single beat the Phillies, extending their infamous losing streak to eight or nine.
Morgan added that Phillies manager Gene Mauch was so upset he threw over the buffet table in the clubhouse, hollering that his club had just been beaten by "a Little Leaguer!"
Great story. But unless Morgan was confusing himself with Reds rookie infielder Chico Ruiz, it never happened. As several readers were moved to write, the Phillies played the Reds, Braves and Cardinals during that losing streak; Houston wasn't in the mix.
Furthermore, Morgan, though called up in 1964, did not have an RBI that season for Houston.
And he did not make his big-league debut in '64, either. That came Sept. 21, 1963, when he went 0-for-1, pinch-hitting against the Phillies. The next day, Morgan did have an RBI single to beat the Phillies, but those Phillies were well out of the race and not in the throes of a historic collapse; they'd actually won four of their previous five games.
Can you confuse such significant and presumably memorable facts about your career? It hardly seems possible, but I suppose you can.
The same bogus story appeared in a Baseball Digest story about Morgan that was published in 2000.
ESPN, through a spokesman yesterday, acknowledged that Morgan's biographical account Sunday was incorrect, that he likely confused his 1963 circumstances with the Phillies' 1964 circumstances. Morgan could not be reached for comment, but ESPN said it expects him to make a correction on his next broadcast, this Sunday.
Fair enough. Still, Morgan seems to be just one symptom of what ESPN has become, that no matter what you watch, listen to and read that carries the ESPN brand, ESPN should just tear it up and start over.