MLB great Joe Morgan remembered by Mike Schur, creator of ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘The Good Place’

On Sunday, former Cincinnati Reds’ second baseman and baseball broadcasting legend Joe Morgan died at the age of 77. The Hall of Famer’s accomplishments are legion. The guy had two MVPs, two World Series titles, 10 All-Star appearances … and one sports blog, named in his dishonor, called FireJoeMorgan.com.

For years FJM critiqued Morgan’s baseball commentary through a sabermetric lens, becoming a cult hit in the early blogosphere. And it turned out that the man behind it, Mike Schur, was also the guy behind TV shows like “Parks and Recreation,” “The Good Place,” “Brooklyn Nine Nine,” and “The Office.”

In this Q&A, which originally aired on The ESPN Daily podcast, Schur discusses the site and what Morgan meant to him.

Pablo Torre: I just want to know first off, what went through your mind when you heard the news?

Mike Schur: Um, what went through my mind, purely sadness. Baseball’s my favorite sport and I felt nothing but sadness that he was gone, especially in a week and a month that has also seen the passing of, uh, you know, a lot of other baseball greats, Tom Seaver and Al Kaline and Whitey Ford and all these people.

Pablo: Describe for those who aren’t familiar, the kind of tension, the dichotomy between being a site that considers Joe Morgan, maybe the best, second baseman ever, or one of the two best ever while also being a site that obviously criticized him quite publicly.

Mike: Yeah, we always regretted that we named the site Fire Joe Morgan, because we didn’t want the guy to be fired, really. It was a crass sort of early internet version of, um, you know, making noise and banging on a pot and calling attention to yourself.

What we were complaining about was that this guy who, in his career did everything right, every single aspect of his game was incredible. He was an incredible defensive second baseman. He led the league in on base percentage four times. He was a 5-foot-7, second baseman who wants to lead the league in OPS. In fact, twice, I think led the league in OPS. He was a marvel.

Pablo: That’s wild.

Mike: Yeah. And not only did he do everything right, he specifically did the things right that the sort of modern analytic movement has shown to be the most valuable possible things you can do. He was just an incredible player in exactly the ways that the sort of “Moneyball” era was beginning to point out how undervalued guys like him actually were.

And then he got into the broadcast booth. And it also spoke to this kind of generational divide where this sort of old-school, ’60’s, ’70’s kinds of players we’re fighting against the modernization of the way that we look at the game analytically. And so he became a sort of poster child for us and for other people, because he was the flagship commentator on the Sunday Night

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‘There’s Leslie Knopes All Over the Place’

When the hit show Parks and Recreation came to an end in 2015, fans mourned the loss of an uplifting comedy about essential workers. To celebrate Treat Yo’Self Day and the arrival of the series on Peacock, series star Jim O’Heir shared what it was like to talk to actual government employees about their jobs.

‘Parks and Recreation’ aired for 7 seasons on NBC

(l-r) Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman, Retta, Aubrey Plaza, Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott, Jim O'Heir, Aziz Ansari in 'Parks and Recreation' Season 3
(l-r) Chris Pratt, Nick Offerman, Retta, Aubrey Plaza, Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott, Jim O’Heir, Aziz Ansari in ‘Parks and Recreation’ Season 3 | Mitchell Haaseth/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

RELATED: 5 Highlights From ‘A Parks and Recreation Special’

The series began airing in 2009. It starred Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, an upbeat employee at the Pawnee parks and recreation department. Leslie works alongside many others, including Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza), Donna Smeagle (Retta), and Jerry (or Garry, Larry, or Terry) Gergich (O’Heir).

Along with their government work, Parks and Recreation delved into the personal lives of those working there. One example of this was Treat Yo’Self Day, in which Donna and Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) would spend one day doing whatever they wanted, including buying gifts for themselves.

Jim O’Heir honored real Parks employees

Jim O'Heir discusses "Lullaby League" with the Build Series at Build Studio on April 18, 2018 in New York City.
Jim O’Heir | Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

In honor of Treat Yo’Self Day 2020, O’Heir honored five real-life Parks workers. “I think like most people, I just take a lot of things for granted,” he told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “If I go to the park with my dogs, I just assume it’s always like this, and things are always neat and ready to go. I don’t think about how that happens, but boy, did I learn a lot.”

O’Heir continued, addressing the way their jobs changed in 2020. “There are people doing these jobs to keep it clean and safe, and especially during this whole COVID nightmare. Their jobs have totally been flipped on their heads, which they’ve had to adjust.” He added, “With all of these precautions, they just worked so hard.”

O’Heir on the 1 thing every person said

What many love most about Parks and Recreation are the relationships at the center of it. Working together to complete a goal — be it building a park, hosting a festival, or just fixing a swing — requires a collaborative effort, with everyone playing a part. O’Heir says that attitude is reflected in the people he spoke with.

“I would be like, ‘Listen, congratulations, you are one of thousands of people that were considered for this award, and you got it,’” he said. “Every time, every person I spoke to said, well, it’s not just me, it’s my team. It’s my fellow employees; it’s the department. They are so selfless, just so d*mn selfless. It is about getting it done and using the team to do that.”

Why he compared them to Leslie Knope

(l-r) Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope and Jim O'Heir as Jerry Gergich in 'Parks and Recreation'
(l-r) Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope and Jim O’Heir as Jerry Gergich in ‘Parks and Recreation’ | Tyler Golden/NBCU Photo
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