It's fairly well-established by now that listening to Joe Morgan and Jon Miller calling a game for ESPN is about as pleasurable and edifying as repeatedly hitting yourself in the temple with a rubber mallet. Miller actually wouldn't be so bad by himself — though his pedantic attempts to "properly" pronounce the names of foreign players can get pretty tiresome — but Morgan is teeth-grindingly awful. Morgan, a Hall of Famer and certainly one of the best second basemen in history, is capable of spinning an interesting yarn — so long as it involves Joe Morgan and/or his days with Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine". The rest of the time, he basically alternates between dyspeptic annoyance at Miller for stating an obvious point, and finding new and ever more cranky ways to minimize the accomplishments of those on the playing field.
During tonight's ESPN broadcast of the Cubs-White Sox game — i.e., the final installment of the Cubs' three-game sweep — Miller and Morgan hit all the predictable bum notes, including lots of references to 1908, 1908 and 1908. (Yeah, guys, we know; Cubs haven't won the World Series in awhile. A hundred years, in fact. Great angle. Maybe you can also throw in some Steve Bartman references later in the broadcast — oh wait, you already showed that footage during the pre-game? My bad!)
But then Morgan did something completely bizarre: In the fifth inning, when Eric Patterson hit a two-run homer into the wire basket that overhangs the right field wall, Morgan referred to the basket as "Banks Boulevard," and then went on to talk about how many Ernie Banks homers ended up in the Wrigley bleacher baskets back in the day — the implication being, of course, that many of Ernie's 512 career homers were cheapies, and that he would have hit considerably fewer without the help of those right- and left-field baskets.
This was one of the weirdest things I've ever heard, so I did a bit of research on "Banks Boulevard," and it turns out that Lil' Joe has been beating this particular non-existent horse for years, claiming that, back when he played, "everybody" referred to the baskets as Banks Boulevard. What's especially bizarre about Morgan's claim is that those baskets didn't even EXIST until May 1970, when they were affixed to the top of Wrigley's outfield walls — not to increase Banks' home run output, but to keep drunken Bleacher Bums from spilling their beer (or themselves) onto the warning track.
It's also an easily verifiable fact that Banks only hit seven homers at Wrigley between the time those baskets were installed and his retirement at the end of the 1971 season. And of those seven, there's footage of Banks' 500th homer flying fairly deep into the bleachers; which means that, at the very most, six out of his 512 career round-trippers landed in the basket. And which means that Morgan has no fucking idea what he's talking about. I know he has no love for Ryne Sandberg — i.e., the one player of the modern era who might have been Morgan's equal as a second baseman — but what could he possibly have to gain by implying that Banks' home runs needed help getting out of the park?
I also have no idea why, since this is apparently an error that Morgan consistently perpetuates, someone at ESPN hasn't had a word with him about it, because this reflects really poorly on both Morgan and the network. Seriously — if Morgan's making this "Banks Blvd" shit up, then he's a grade-A asshole; and if he sincerely believes his tall tale to be true, then he's veering dangerously into Grandpa Simpson territory. "Three wars back we called Sauerkraut 'liberty cabbage,' and we called liberty cabbage 'super slaw,' and back then a suitcase was known as a 'Swedish lunch box.' Of course, nobody knew that but me..."