Is This Normal?S

There's something in this article that is incredibly weird and scary. So, as you prepare to read it...just be cool. Relax your shoulders. Buy a nice sound machine and set it to "Babbling Brook." Take deep breaths, in through your nose, out through your mouth.

Then put on a Kevlar snowsuit and climb into your bathtub and cover yourself with a second bathtub because shit's about to get weird.

Cincinnati deserves this fun, successful Reds team


By Gregg Doyel
CBSSports.com National Columnist

Cincinnati deserves this. We

No — that's not it. Granted, a man whose own by-line refers to him as a "National Columnist" writing about a baseball team in the first-person plural — because he's a fan of the team — is a bit odd. (Let's just go ahead and check that URL again — I assume it's like cincinnati.com/columnists/provincial/homerism/letssellsomepapers.htm? Oh no, right...it's CBSSports.com.) But no, Gregg Doyel's eagerness to flaunt his lack of objectivity is not the praeternatural, 2012-type harbinger of doom I'm talking about.

deserve the Reds running away with the National League Central. We deserve Joey Votto on the cover of Sports Illustrated. We deserve Aroldis Chapman throwing 104 mph, a Cuban Missile Crisis for NL hitters.

Yeah, I said we.

I get it. You're ignoring a basic tenet of the journalistic code of ethics. Good job. Ordinarily I'd be complaining more about that, but we have bigger fish to fry. Let's skip ahead...

I haven't lived in Cincinnati as long as some of the mopes around here, baseball fans in a baseball town whose baseball team hasn't sniffed the World Series since 1990. ...But I've been here long enough to know, to see, Cincinnati's suffering. Adam Dunn hitting 40 home runs but striking out 195 times...

Oh, you suffered through that, did you? You heroically bore the burden of all those 40 HR, .380 OBP seasons? You're a real martyr. I suppose if he had just popped up to the infield in 60 of those 195 AB you'd've loved the guy? God damn it, how many times —

No. I can't lose my cool about that. I have to conserve energy, because again, there is something much weirder coming up.

But like I said, things are changing around here. And this town deserves it. Fans aren't coming to the ballpark in masses, but that's not a fair measuring stick. Less than 20,000 fans showed up Tuesday or Wednesday, but the Reds' crowd of 19,218 on Tuesday was the seventh-biggest turnout of the 15 MLB games that night — and on the season the Reds are outdrawing the NL West-leading Padres. The economy sucks everywhere, but the weather is better in San Diego. Cincinnati does what it can to support this team. It always has.

Thesis: Cincinnati supports its team.

Evidence: Nobody comes to their games. In September. When they're leading their division.

I mean, seriously, man — you're bragging about having the seventh-largest attendance? And out-drawing the Padres? I've been to Petco like six times — it's a stunning park, in a beautiful city, with perfect weather, and nobody goes to the games. Nobody, ever, for any reason. On any given night, 40% of the people in Petco are middle-aged Orange County couples dressed entirely in linen who drank a little too much white wine during lunch and got lost on their way to the La Jolla Playhouse. (That's right. 40%.)

Anyway, whatever, that was dumb writing, but let's forget about it, because here we go with the super weird thing that freaked my bean:

The new Reds play defense and ignore the couches. They bounce around the clubhouse, mingling with each other and ducking the schoolboy shenanigans of [Mike] Leake, a scruffy sort who looks like he made it to the ballpark after playing hooky in high school, probably by riding his skateboard out of there. I watched Leake in the Reds' clubhouse for 20 seconds before the game Wednesday, and in those 20 seconds he slapped the naked ass of Reds executive and Hall of Famer Joe Morgan and playfully goosed a (dressed) teammate with a bat handle.

Let's just all take a deep breath and try to figure this out. Because as the old saying goes: "We either figure out why Joe Morgan was walking around the Reds clubhouse naked together...or we die alone."

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake was observed slapping the naked ass of Joe Morgan, a 67-year-old man, who is both a professional broadcaster for a national network and a team executive. This fact is so weird and creepy, to me, that I will to ignore the fact that apparently seconds after this occurred, Leake tried to clock some Giuliani Time with a different gentleman — a teammate, it seems, who, unlike 67-year-old Hall of Fame broadcaster Joe Morgan, had the decency to be wearing pants.

But in all seriousness: What the fuck was Joe Morgan doing walking around the Reds clubhouse with no pants on? Let's play a round of: "Is This Normal?"

I have read a lot of stuff about baseball in my life, but I have never come across this situation. I guess I'll go ahead and concede that this may indeed be perfectly normal — it may be commonplace that a national broadcaster/former player walks around naked in the clubhouse after games and plays grabass (literally) with the current guys. Maybe it happens all the time. Maybe Psycho Lyons slips down to the ChiSox locker room, strips to his skivvies, and hits the cold cut spread. (He dropped his pants on the field that time — this would be no weirder.) Perhaps Vin Scully heads down to the bowels of Chavez Ravine and greets the victorious Dodgers in his birthday suit, his fluid monologue never ceasing for a second. Maybe the Cubs have a fun little tradition where, after wins, Rick Sutcliffe pops down to the clubhouse, gets naked, puts clown makeup on his dick, and sings "Least Complicated" by the Indigo Girls. I don't know. If you do know, can you tell me? Seriously — in the comments, please someone tell me if it's normal for Joe Morgan to have been naked in the clubhouse after the game.

Because here's the thing — and I don't want to belabor the point, especially if that behavior is normal, rendering this whole thing pointless, but the point is already pretty fucking belabored, so whatever — forget about the fact that Morgan is supposed to be an impartial analyst for ESPN, which makes his very position with the Reds' front office suspect at best and grounds-for-recusal at worst. (In my humble opinion, having a guy broadcast games who is also a front-office exec with one of the teams in the games makes Doyel's aforementioned first-person plural in this article look like child's play, inappropriate-subjectivity-wise.) (Full disclosure: I used to write for a blog called "Fire Joe Morgan," so I am not completely impartial when it comes to Joe Morgan.)

I know it's baseball. It's not politics, or like pharmaceutical reps bribing doctors, or government officials having coke-and-sex parties with the oil company execs they were supposed to be regulating. But Joe just casually strutting around and playing live Chat Roulette with the current major league roster of one of the teams he covers as a broadcaster just seems like something that shouldn't happen. And something that could lead to awkward situations, as evidenced by this actual transcript of a real thing that definitely happened in a real game recently:

Jon Miller: Fifth inning here at the Great American Ballpark, and Reds manager Dusty Baker joins us now from the dugout. Dusty, what are you seeing from Volquez tonight?

Dusty Baker: He's throwing it pretty good out there, mixing up his pitches well — now we have to go out and score some runs for him.

Joe Morgan: Dusty, last week I had the opportunity to walk around the clubhouse naked —

Baker: I remember.

Morgan: — and I was amazed how loose the clubhouse was. Guys really seemed to be having fun — just shoving bats up each others' butts and walking around naked. Are you guys having fun?

Baker: Well, Joe, it is worth noting that you were the only naked guy in the clubhouse at that time.

Morgan: Really? I feel like I saw a lot of wieners.

Baker: Nope. Just your own. It was 9:30 in the morning, about three hours before game time. Most of the team was just arriving at the park —

Miller: Curveball, strike two on Votto —

Baker: — and I have to admit, they were a little surprised to see you, fully frontal, pumping away on those 25-pound hand weights and arguing loudly that Dave Concepcion should be in the Hall of Fame.

Miller: Line drive base hit for Joey Votto. One out, one on.

Morgan: Dusty, you've gotten a lot of contributions from younger guys, as well as the veterans this year. Do you think I could come into the clubhouse after the game and display my ass for both those veterans and the younger guys?

Baker: Well, Joe, you are on the payroll of the team, and you're a legend, so I suppose — holy shit!

[Joe has appeared next to Dusty, in the dugout, completely naked]

Morgan: Hey.

Baker: How did you get down here so fast from the booth?

Morgan: I'm still quick, Dusty. I can still move pretty good.

[Mike Leake walks by and shoves a groundskeeping rake up his own urethra.]

Baker: Hey real quick, I just want to say: "Clogging up the basepaths."

Miller: Easy pop-up to right off the bat of Gomes — two down.