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Friday, January 13, 2012

BBPro:  Heartburn Hardball - Jack Morris in Motion

Morris, who was the face of the Detroit Tigers’ pitching staff for the entirety of the eighties before spending the early nineties hopping between the Twins, Blue Jays, and Indians, has every right to be thrilled at the news. And the rest of us, especially those who were too young to see him pitch, have every right to ask…why Jack Morris? Why now?

To answer that question, I decide to watch the most famous performance of his career, the game that proved once and for all that he was a true ace and a true winner.

....

The Twins will win 1-0 in the bottom of the 10th, winning the second World Series title in franchise history and solidifying Jack Morris’s place in baseball history.

And when it’s over, I will be more convinced than ever that Jack Morris is not a Hall of Fame pitcher.

 

 

Completely Unbiased 3rd Party Lurker Posted: January 13, 2012 at 02:39 PM | 83 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, hall of fame, tigers, twins

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   1. JRVJ Posted: January 13, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4036498)
Ok, did I understand correctly that the point of this article is that Jack Morris should not be given special credit for Game 7 of the 1991 WS because Lonnie Smith made a running mistake?

I'll hold off on commenting until you guys confirm what I think I read.
   2. Urkel's Boner Posted: January 13, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4036519)
I think the point is that no one game should result in "special credit" in any player's HOF case because a butterfly flapping its wings in South America can change a 10 inning shoutout to getting pulled in the 8th and taking a hard-luck 1-0 loss, with both possible outcomes coming as the result of the same quality of performance.
   3. John Northey Posted: January 13, 2012 at 05:58 PM (#4036521)
I think it was more along the lines of it was a solid game but Morris should've lost it so going nuts and putting him in the hall largely due to it is even sillier than THE FEAR Jim Rice put into pitchers.

I am surprised the writer didn't mention Rice & Sutter when it comes to voters picking story over facts as I feel it went 'Sutter is a great story, lets put him in due to his inventing something he actually didn't invent' then 'Jim Rice is a great story lets put him in for scaring pitchers even though he really didn't that much' and now 'Morris was a clutch pitcher, even though we only have one real example of that and it was partially thanks to a baserunning blunder'.

Very, very bizarre how writers are putting guys into the Hall who are extremely weak candidates despite having a surplus of superior ones available.
   4. DA Baracus Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4036531)
That's the way I read it. He's saying that Morris' candidacy is entirely from narrative, and that the narrative is very thin, demonstrated by it being one play away from being completely different.
   5. JRVJ Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:06 PM (#4036536)
2 & 3, thank you.

I strongly disagree with this article. Not because Morris should go into the HoF because of Game 7 of the 1991 WS, but because we are now falling into true pitfalls of absurdity when not only are we questioning narratives, but are discounting narrative of WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED because of what COULD SHOULDA been.

I can understand somebody wanting to put special emphasis on record and statistics when choosing whether somebody should go into the HoF (and certainly, Morris should not go into the HoF based on his record), but good grief, if the HoF is not going to become the most boring place on Earth, YOU NEED some great events and narratives.

BTW - I strongly believe that the 1991 WS is the best ever, and I give thanks that I was of an age where I could truly appreciate it. It was a crazy ride by two from-the-bootstrap teams, with some of the most thrilling games of all time. Game 6 was insane, and Game 7 was better (to a large extent BECAUSE of Lonnie Smith's mental blunder).

Does that mean that Morris should be in the HoF? No, but you'd better believe that Kirby Puckett going to the HoF partially because of that WS, and I for one, don't mind that he is in.
   6. bachslunch Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:07 PM (#4036538)
The crux of the article is arguably this statement:

"...Morris is now a test case to see if a candidate with a strong enough narrative, no matter how groundless, imaginary, or overblown it might be, can make the Hall simply because his supporters repeated it so often and so loudly that one morning the world woke up and found it was true."
   7. bachslunch Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:09 PM (#4036539)
if the HoF is not going to become the most boring place on Earth, YOU NEED some great events and narratives.

Agreed, but that's what the museum wing of the HoF is for.
   8. JRVJ Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:14 PM (#4036542)
7, good point, but why should that (the fact there's a museum wing) mean induction in the HoF should not take great events and narratives into account?

Mind you, I'm not arguing for Morris. I'm arguing against this crazy idea that narrative of what happened should be discounted because of what COULD HAVE happened.
   9. DA Baracus Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4036550)
why should that (the fact there's a museum wing) mean induction in the HoF should not take great events and narratives into account?


Because as the article points out, the BWAA Election Rules specifically say that one game is not enough:

6. Automatic Elections: No automatic elections based on performances such as a batting average of .400 or more for one (1) year, pitching a perfect game or similar outstanding achievement shall be permitted.


One game is fine for narrative to sum up a guy who already has a HOF career without the one ame. Babe Ruth calling his shot, Willie Mays' catch, etc. The Morris advocates are putting that in the wrong order: that the narrative of one game sums up his career. We're not putting Kirk Gibson in the HOF for his HR.
   10. Mark Armour Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:22 PM (#4036555)
Should a Hall of Fame case be built entirely on narrative? In my opinion, no. Can a Hall of Fame case be bolstered by narrative? In my opinion, yes.

Baseball is a story, and people that played larger roles in that story (whether by being on great teams, or playing a part in big events) get extra credit. Not enough to help Don Larsen, but some extra credit. Is this fair? I don't particularly care.

I am not arguing for Morris, I am arguing for art and science to co-exist.
   11.     Hey Gurl Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:25 PM (#4036557)
[6], well said.

Science and art can co-exist. Anti-science is not art. Falsehoods are not art.
   12. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:26 PM (#4036559)
He didn't know about Lonnie Smith's blunder until just now?
   13. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:27 PM (#4036560)
Falsehoods are not art.

There are no falsehoods afoot here.
   14. JRVJ Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:35 PM (#4036572)
Because as the article points out, the BWAA Election Rules specifically say that one game is not enough:


That's a strawman. I didn't write that a player should be inducted into the HoF BECAUSE OF great events or narratives.

I wrote that I see no reason why great events or moments should not be taken INTO ACCOUNT.

Very different point, which you ironically enough make in your second paragraph.

****

On this issue, I commented yesterday that I had strongly disagreed with Joe Sheehan in his latest podcast, because he argued that he bought into narrative being a plus for somebody who has a HoF or borderline HoF career. Sheehan then said that he would have approved the HoF induction of Jim Kaat, Luis Tiant and Tommy John if either one of them had (in addition to their careers) pitched a WS 1991 G 7.

I have problems with that position, too, but this article espouses an even worse position - that a great event or moment should not be taken into account because Gosh darn it, it could have been different.

To use your example of Kirk Gibson, let's take a borderline HoF player. Let's say somebody like Andre Dawson, who seemed to have been well liked (no "Fear" B.S.). And let's say that Dawson, who also had gamey knees, had hit the Kirk Giblson HR in the WS 1988 G 1 off of ECkersley.

In that hypo, yes, that HR should have pushed Dawson over the edge into the HoF (which he did reach, though he probably shouldn't have).

But this article seems to be arguing, in essence, that Dawson should not be credited for a HR because the batter in front of him got on base because of a throwing error.

And I don't agree with that one bit.

(I'm too tired to build a narrative around the 2011 WS, but you could make similar arguments in re - say - Lance Berkman and his HoF changes due to his tying game 6 of that series in the 10th. But I supppose that under this line of reasoning, the fact that the RFer dropped Freese's liner discounts everything after that).
   15. Mark Armour Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:35 PM (#4036573)
The Morris advocates are putting that in the wrong order: that the narrative of one game sums up his career.


I am not a Morris advocate, but this is very clearly NOT what they are doing. The Morris case is: he won 254 games, plus several hugely important and dramatic post-season games. You can chip away at that case if you want, but that is his case. What other pitcher in baseball history has won 250 games and has been the ace pitcher on two World Series winners? (Winning two games in each series, and leaving his other 1991 start with the lead.) Not very many, I can assure you, and they are likely all in the Hall of Fame.

Again, you can chip away at this case and find it wanting. But please don't suggest that this is some sort of silly case. It is not. People who vote for Jack Morris are not morons.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:36 PM (#4036574)
Should a Hall of Fame case be built entirely on narrative? In my opinion, no. Can a Hall of Fame case be bolstered by narrative? In my opinion, yes.


How many borderline players don't have a narrative that can be used to boist their candidacy? If someone wanted to find a narrative, they always could. Sure some are bigger and more obvious, but nearly all good to great players have a story of some sort.
   17. Mark Armour Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:43 PM (#4036579)
That's why 600 people vote, and all 600 of them have their own opinions as to which narratives matter. If it were all just science, you would only need one person to vote.
   18. DA Baracus Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:49 PM (#4036581)
I wrote that I see no reason why great events or moments should not be taken INTO ACCOUNT.


I agree with you. But that's not the point of the article or the point that Morris supporters the article is arguing against are making.
   19. DA Baracus Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:52 PM (#4036584)
The Morris case is: he won 254 games, plus several hugely important and dramatic post-season games. You can chip away at that case if you want, but that is his case.


But 254 wins is not good enough on it's own, so the narrative must be leaned on heavily. That's what the article is arguing against.

People who vote for Jack Morris are not morons.


I never said they were. I think they're wrong, but they're not idiots. The author of the article might though.
   20. Swedish Chef Posted: January 13, 2012 at 06:59 PM (#4036592)
If it were all just science, you would only need one person to vote.

You would need one person to vote, and peer reviewers, and funding from some agency, and some post-docs you hire for said funds, and then you would need a bunch of grad students to do the actual work.
   21. JRVJ Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:00 PM (#4036593)
18, I think that IS the point of the article.

Check this out: "But here's the thing about that narrative: Jack Morris should have lost Game 7 of the 1991 World Series."

That's it, because otherwise, what's the point of revisiting the game and writing how shucks, Lonnie Smith had a brain cramp?
   22.     Hey Gurl Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:01 PM (#4036594)

People who vote for Jack Morris are not morons.


Probably most of them haven't paid much attention to baseball for twenty years, though. Except for the once a year they get to vote on it.
   23. Mark Armour Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4036597)
Probably most of them haven't paid much attention to baseball for twenty years, though. Except for the once a year they get to vote on it.

Ultimately, this comment summarizes why Jack Morris (and Rice before him) will enter the Hall of Fame. Because the arguments for them are misunderstood and mocked rather than politely engaged. So they just march on.
   24.     Hey Gurl Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4036604)
Some arguments deserve mockery.

In either case, I was rather not mocking but rather serious. A few years ago it was revealed that a frightening volume of voters do not cover baseball on a regular basis.

If it were all just science, you would only need one person to vote.


What nonsense.
   25. DA Baracus Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4036605)
18, I think that IS the point of the article.


I feel like we're splitting hairs here. We both agree that great moments and narrative are part of what makes a HOFer a HOFer. The point of the article is that Jack Morris' great moment and its narrative is the entirety of his HOF candidacy.
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:32 PM (#4036607)
That's why 600 people vote, and all 600 of them have their own opinions as to which narratives matter. If it were all just science, you would only need one person to vote.


I'm fairly certain that nobody on any of these hof threads, is arguing for a strict statistical guidelines, but they are arguing for some realistic high level of standards. Many on here argue for Dick Allen, I actively oppose his inclusion. I'll argue for Jim Edmonds when his time comes up, and others are going to oppose that. There are different ways to look at it, but looking at Morris, his case is so weak that the narrative has to be created that overcomes logic.

And 600 people can be wrong. I'm a fan of the wisdom of the masses, but that is of course assuming league average intelligence, the bbwaa participates in a lesser league than the masses.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:36 PM (#4036608)
Ultimately, this comment summarizes why Jack Morris (and Rice before him) will enter the Hall of Fame. Because the arguments for them are misunderstood and mocked rather than politely engaged. So they just march on.


They are going into the hof because the people who vote for them won't bother engaging in a legitimate debate for their guys. When Blyleven was on the ballot, the people who refused to vote for him said 'he didn't feel like a hofer' and that was the extent of their argument against, occassionally you would get non-voters to put out a semi-coherent argument for not including Blyleven, but the voters didn't try. And those same voters are putting out similar arguments for Morris. They will put up silly comments like pitched to the score, when they see all the studies proving that is false, they go with a gamer who won when his team needed him, again another demolished argument, and then they'll say he was an ace and felt like a hofer, while ignoring that only 19% of the voters felt that way 5 years after his retirement etc. Ultimately it comes down to 1. one game 2. most wins in a decade 3.anti-stat backlash.
   28. Mark Armour Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:38 PM (#4036609)
Oh, if only baseball writers were as smart as baseball message board commenters, this whole thing would be so much more civil.


   29. JRVJ Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:41 PM (#4036610)
23, maybe, but if so, Bernhardt wrote a terrible article, because he seems to be writing something else completely (check the perception of 2 above of what the article is trying to say).
   30. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:43 PM (#4036612)
Oh, if only baseball writers were as smart as baseball message board commenters, this whole thing would be so much more civil.


Maybe not more civil, but probably more rational.
   31. The District Attorney Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:45 PM (#4036615)
I don't think y'all are giving this article nearly enough credit. I think it represents a good-faith attempt to examine the pros and cons of Morris' case, and it's well-written. Summarizing its 6,000-plus words as "Morris was lucky to even win that game!" isn't fair to its content, IMO.

(One thing it points out is that Morris did in fact cut a certain figure, and did -- contrary to what has sometimes been claimed here -- have the Jack Morris Reputation when he was playing. It's true that people didn't think he was one of the best pitchers in the league; the Cy voting shows that. But did they think he was a winner, bulldog, etc.? Yeah, they did.)

Ultimately, this comment summarizes why Jack Morris (and Rice before him) will enter the Hall of Fame.
Wait a minute, I thought it wasn't all about the Hall of Fame! Why can't we just talk about the players??
   32. Bruce Markusen Posted: January 13, 2012 at 07:54 PM (#4036621)
Mark, I'm with you. For what it's worth, I think you're making the most sense of anyone here.

I would not vote for Morris either, but I can understand why some would. At one point, he was the most desired pitcher on the free agent market, but collusion came about. He played an important role on multiple championship teams. If he makes the Hall, it won't ruin my day.

I'm much more interested in building a positive case for Dick Allen, Minnie Minoso, and Ted Simmons to MAKE the Hall of Fame.
   33. BDC Posted: January 13, 2012 at 08:01 PM (#4036624)
Well, Bernhardt does say this:

In the absence of any other compelling reason, a Hall of Fame bust should not be awarded because Lonnie Smith lost his helmet


And he's quite right.

Although, I see JRVJ's point. Last October (I am just dealing with the trauma enough to talk about it) I saw Josh Hamilton hit an incredible home run that should have won a World Series. But in the reality of baseball history, the Cardinals won the Series, and Hamilton doesn't get to join the same narrative world as Morris and Carter and Mazeroski. At a certain point, the amount someone added to a win expectation is not as meaningful as the result of a game itself.

Now, this has nothing to do with Morris's HOF case, as everyone but the Bear agrees. Heck, John Lackey won a Game Seven, and people would be lying down on the streets of Cooperstown to keep him out of the Hall :)
   34. Booey Posted: January 13, 2012 at 08:05 PM (#4036625)
...we are now falling into true pitfalls of absurdity when not only are we questioning narratives, but are discounting narrative of WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED because of what COULD SHOULDA been.


That's exactly what the steroid hardliners and discounters have been doing all along. Making up their own numbers based on what they assume would've/could've/should've happened if said player hadn't juiced rather than going off statistical facts of what actually DID happen.

And yes, true absurdity is as good a way of describing it as any I've heard.
   35. Booey Posted: January 13, 2012 at 08:14 PM (#4036635)
Jack Morris = Joe Carter

Both were slightly above average players for a long enough time that they racked up some fairly impressive (but nothing fantastic) career numbers in a couple of high profile counting stats (AKA compilers). And they even both have signature World Series moments that define their careers.

The difference is, Carter dropped off the ballot after one shot. How voters are seeing enough of a difference in Morris that he's on the doorstep of induction is beyond me...
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: January 13, 2012 at 08:19 PM (#4036636)
Morris is a better candidate than Joe Carter though.
   37. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: January 13, 2012 at 08:37 PM (#4036652)
Ultimately, this comment summarizes why Jack Morris (and Rice before him) will enter the Hall of Fame. Because the arguments for them are misunderstood and mocked rather than politely engaged. So they just march on.


I thought the argument for Morris is the wins, and the counterargument is that the disparity between Morris's ERA/ERA+/whatever and his won/loss record can be largely explained by Morris' run support (in other words, his teammates) rather than anything intrinsic to Morris. The counter-counter-argument is pitching to the score, the counter-counter-counter-argument is that nobody has found anything to suggest Morris bought himself that many extra wins pitching to the score. Am I missing something here?
   38. Booey Posted: January 13, 2012 at 09:33 PM (#4036722)
Morris is a better candidate than Joe Carter though.

He is, but not by too much. Who would be the offensive equivalant of Morris? Harold Baines?
   39. Zac Schmitt Posted: January 13, 2012 at 09:52 PM (#4036743)
I am not a Morris advocate, but this is very clearly NOT what they are doing.


I thought the argument for Morris is the wins


I might be off-base, but I honestly disagree. It seems very much the case to me that Morris strikes the people who vote for him as seeming like a hall of famer, both because of the aura surrounding him (and his performance in game 7) and because they remember him as a very good pitcher, afterward those people go back, see he won a good number of games and decide that 254 is enough in his case when it wouldn't generally be in many others.
   40. AROM Posted: January 14, 2012 at 10:39 AM (#4036976)
"He is, but not by too much. Who would be the offensive equivalant of Morris? Harold Baines?"

Take Jim Rice's career and add Joe Carter's homer, and you've got it.
   41. AROM Posted: January 14, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4036979)
Morris's WS heroics do trump Carter. If Carter doesn't hit that homer, it's 50/50 that the Jays win game 7. Morris's pitching turned a 95-99% sure loss (when his team can't score for 9 innings) into a win. And let's not slight his pitching. Even though Lonnie made the big baserunning mistake, Jack still had to get out of a 2nd & 3rd, nobody out jam.
   42. RobertMachemer Posted: January 14, 2012 at 11:28 AM (#4036988)
It's funny. A team wins a bunch of games with Hall of Famers (or close) at second, short, third, and very good players at catcher and center field. And who gets the votes? The pitcher.

Serious question: rank the Hall of Fame candidacy of the following players...

Parrish, Whitaker, Trammell, Evans, Lemon, Morris.

Is Morris third? Fourth? Is he actually ahead of Lemon and Parrish?
   43. RobertMachemer Posted: January 14, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4036992)
What other pitcher in baseball history has won 250 games and has been the ace pitcher on two World Series winners?
The problem with this is that Morris doesn't qualify here either. Morris was NOT the ace of the 1991 Twins. Nor the 1984 Tigers. Erickson and Petry both got more votes for the Cy Young. The writers misremember their own narrative because Morris stayed around longer than Erickson and Petry, but both of those pitchers were thought BY THE WRITERS to be better than Morris in 1991 and 1984 respectively.
   44. OCF Posted: January 14, 2012 at 11:53 AM (#4036997)
Serious question: rank the Hall of Fame candidacy of the following players...

Parrish, Whitaker, Trammell, Evans, Lemon, Morris.


Don't know about Hall of Fame, but I can give you Hall of Merit.

Trammell: Elected, easily. Subsequently ranked 15th among elected SS. Considered essentially tied with Ozzie Smith.

Whitaker: Elected, easily. Subsequently ranked 15th among elected 2B.

Evans: Elected, first ballot in a backlog year. Subsequently ranked 14th among elected 3B.

Morris: Has drawn votes. Example: one 12th place vote (out of 40 voters) in 2009 election; no votes in 2010, 2011 or 2012. Draws a few scattered votes in BBTF mock HoF elections.

Parrish: I don't think he's drawn any votes, but I'm not sure.

Lemon: Has drawn no support.

So to answer your question: 4th.
   45. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: January 14, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4037007)
Kirk Gibson's story is one of the better ones of my lifetime: led LA to the WS and hit that home run off of Eck in Game One. WHere's the love for him? 13 votes in '01.
   46. Steve Treder Posted: January 14, 2012 at 12:44 PM (#4037010)
The writers misremember their own narrative

That's the problem I have with the Morris camp. At least Jim Rice was actually overrated when he played. Morris wasn't; he was properly regarded as a very good pitcher, but not an elite ace. It's only 20 years later that he's being touted as something he wasn't perceived as at the time.

   47. BDC Posted: January 14, 2012 at 12:50 PM (#4037011)
What other [non-HOF] pitcher in baseball history has won 250 games and has been the ace pitcher on two World Series winners?

Nobody that I can see (I admit I was hoping that Gus Weyhing had kicked butt in the Temple Cup or something, but apparently not :)

OTOH, Andy Pettitte won 240 and David Wells won 239, and both will have uphill struggles for the Hall (Wells might not get 5% next year, given the ballot crowding). The 250 mark is pretty arbitrary.

Actually, if Wells should get less than 5% while Morris gets 66% or more, the results will just be weird. Wells, like Morris, is your basic HOVG pitcher, and had a darn good mustache, too. It will show that the voting goes mostly by waistline.
   48. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: January 14, 2012 at 01:06 PM (#4037017)
It will show that the voting goes mostly by waistline.

Height, too. I suspect Rock Raines relative shortness is costing him some votes.
   49. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 14, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4037018)
Mind you, I'm not arguing for Morris. I'm arguing against this crazy idea that narrative of what happened should be discounted because of what COULD HAVE happened.

I wouldn't vote for Morris, but OTOH I wouldn't particularly care if he made it into the Hall.

That said, I think you're discounting the fact that with Lonnie Smith on 1st in a tie game with nobody out, Jack Morris gave up a gap double that would have scored Smith 999 times out of 1000. The giving up of that hit was the only part of that play that was in Morris's power to influence. That he did give up that hit is indisputable, as is the fact that without a flukish baserunning mistake, Morris would have lost the game. 999 of 1000 times Morris loses that game, and the narrative now becomes one for John Smoltz to bask in.

No question that after that, Morris pitched out of a jam with a spectacularly gutty performance, given the full context of the situation. He deserves complete credit for that, and everything that came before and after. Not to mention that only giving up 1 run in a complete game 7 of the World Series is a hell of a feat in itself. But that doesn't negate the fact that it was only a flukish play that prevented the box score from reading "LP-Morris". And poof, there goes much of Morris's HoF narrative.
   50. AROM Posted: January 14, 2012 at 01:13 PM (#4037019)
Wells is the same height as Morris. I can see the perception being different since Wells is also 75 inches wide.
   51. AROM Posted: January 14, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4037020)
Morris was the ace of the 1991 Twins and 1984 Tigers. Even if Petry and Erickson had better seasons, Jack was the guy who started game1 of both ALCS and WS. The ALCS being more telling, since the WS rotation can depend on how the long the previous series goes and who's rested.

Those who are anti Morris's HOF case should take care not to distort the facts. They are on our side.
   52. Booey Posted: January 14, 2012 at 01:32 PM (#4037025)
"He is, but not by too much. Who would be the offensive equivalant of Morris? Harold Baines?"

Take Jim Rice's career and add Joe Carter's homer, and you've got it.



Maybe in overall value (though I still doubt it), but I don't think Rice is a good comp since they achieved their numbers in opposite ways. Rice is a pure peak candidate; while he didn't last as an elite player long enough to warrant election in my opinion, at least he really was a legit MVP caliber player for a 3 year span (1977-1979). Morris OTOH, definitely had the longevity of a HOFer, but he had virtually no peak to speak of; he was never a truly elite CYA caliber pitcher, not even for a single season. I still think Baines is a better comp, or maybe Andre Dawson if you want to be generous.
   53. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: January 14, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4037026)
I still think Baines is a better comp, or maybe Andre Dawson if you want to be generous.

Vinny Testaverde?
   54. Booey Posted: January 14, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4037027)
Morris was the ace of the 1991 Twins and 1984 Tigers. Even if Petry and Erickson had better seasons, Jack was the guy who started game1 of both ALCS and WS. The ALCS being more telling, since the WS rotation can depend on how the long the previous series goes and who's rested.


Sure, but if Morris was the ace of his teams pitching staffs for the majority of his career like his supporters claim (and he was), that kinda just proves that either: A) His teams had some pretty mediocre staffs, or B) His managers overrated his ability. And neither really seems like a major point in his favor. But that's kinda Morris's entire HOF argument; it revolves much more around how good people THOUGHT he was rather than how good he ACTUALLY was.
   55. OCF Posted: January 14, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4037028)
Orel Hershiser did not win 250 games. He won 204; to be specific, 204-150 compared to Morris's 254-186, which makes the difference 50-36 in Morris's favor. (We know, of course, that Morris didn't pitch well enough to have that kind of W-L record in neutral conditions - see comments above about Trammell, Whitaker, Evans, Gibson, et al.) Hershiser wasn't on two WS winners because the '95 Indians lost in Game 6 and the '97 Indians lost in Game 7. And Hershiser wasn't really the ace of those Indian teams ahead of Nagy and Martinez (Dennis Martinez, whose career record is every bit as good as Morris's.) But on the '88 Dodgers, Hershiser was an ACE in a way that Morris never was for any team in his career.
   56. OCF Posted: January 14, 2012 at 01:51 PM (#4037029)
Chuck Finley only had a 200-173 career record and never appeared in a WS. But give him Trammell and Whitaker instead of Dick Schofield/Gary DiSarcina and Johnny Ray/Luis Sojo and we'll see who the pitcher is. Finley is another one that I'd take as the equal to Morris or maybe slightly better.
   57. GuyM Posted: January 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4037058)
Those who are anti Morris's HOF case should take care not to distort the facts. They are on our side

Exactly right. And tone matters: those opposed to Morris are much more likely to prevail by saying "I understand why Morris appears Hall-worthy, but let me tell you why I think a vote for him is ultimately a vote to lower the HOF's standards," as opposed to, say, "only an idiot could vote for Morris."

And if I were in charge of a "stop Morris" campaign, I would tell my troops one other thing: spend most of your time making an affirmative case for Curt Schilling, and comparing him to Morris, rather than just tearing down Morris. I'm convinced by Posnanski's argument that a player needs to be the best at their position on the ballot to clear 75% (unless they are an automatic first ballot guy). The only way to stop Morris -- who may also benefit next year from the "clean" contrast with Clemens -- is to convince a lot of voters that Schilling is a clearly stronger candidate. If voters can see that Morris is clearly inferior to Schilling, who himself will not be seen as "first ballot material" by many voters, then it becomes harder to vote for Morris. And even voters who are totally comfortable denying Clemens entry based on PED use may find it hard to justify electing only the third-best starting pitcher on their ballot. And if Morris doesn't make it next year, I think there's a good chance he falls short the following year too.
   58. Steve Treder Posted: January 14, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4037065)
Exactly right. And tone matters: those opposed to Morris are much more likely to prevail by saying "I understand why Morris appears Hall-worthy, but let me tell you why I think a vote for him is ultimately a vote to lower the HOF's standards," as opposed to, say, "only an idiot could vote for Morris."

And if I were in charge of a "stop Morris" campaign, I would tell my troops one other thing: spend most of your time making an affirmative case for Curt Schilling, and comparing him to Morris, rather than just tearing down Morris.


All true. As we've mentioned before, human nature being what it is, any positive campaign stands a better chance of being persuasive than a negative campaign. It gains a more genuine, less defensive hearing.
   59. OCF Posted: January 14, 2012 at 02:49 PM (#4037068)
I see Schilling as reasonably comparable in value (although often quite different in shape or style) to:

Jim Palmer
Fergie Jenkins
Nolan Ryan
Don Sutton (Note: my opinion of Sutton seems to be much higher than most people's opinion of Sutton)
Whitey Ford

That does put him behind the Gibson/Carlton/Perry/Blyleven class, but, to go the other direction:

Some pitchers I'd take Schilling ahead of:

Marichal
Newhouser
Kevin Brown (OK, that's not going to convince anyone outside of our circles)
Bunning
Eckersley

Does that sound like a Hall of Famer to you?

If I try to do the same thing for Morris, I wind up comparing him to the likes of Finley, Dennis Martinez, Guidry, Vida Blue, Jimmy Key, Frank Tanana, Hershiser, Viola. It's a different list.

On seeing the name Jenkins on the list above, I realize that Jenkins and Schilling do share one important attribute: they're both from the "just throw strikes" school of pitching.

One should also note what we're really saying when we compare Morris to the likes of Finley, Martinez, or Tanana: those were some very, very good pitchers, and that's not an insulting comparison at all.
   60. bachslunch Posted: January 14, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4037073)
And 600 people can be wrong.

Agreed. Plenty more than 600 people voted for Richard Nixon to be president -- three times, in fact.
   61. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: January 14, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4037079)
   62. BDC Posted: January 14, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4037081)
Over 700 people have given the movie Ed with Matt LeBlanc more than 6 stars on IMDb.
   63. AROM Posted: January 14, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4037086)
"All true. As we've mentioned before, human nature being what it is, any positive campaign stands a better chance of being persuasive than a negative campaign. It gains a more genuine, less defensive hearing."

A negative campaign won't be effective because all it does is keep Jack Morris's name in the columns all year. You want to fight his induction? Best strategy is to try to ignore him as much as possible. Like mainstream media and Ron Paul.
   64. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: January 14, 2012 at 03:44 PM (#4037090)


That's exactly what the steroid hardliners and discounters have been doing all along. Making up their own numbers based on what they assume would've/could've/should've happened if said player hadn't juiced rather than going off statistical facts of what actually DID happen.

And yes, true absurdity is as good a way of describing it as any I've heard.


What also DID happen was these gentlemen pumped themselves full of illegal drugs. Yeah, yeah, TEH GREENIES, but people hate steroids. Deal with it.
   65. GuyM Posted: January 14, 2012 at 04:35 PM (#4037109)
You want to fight his induction? Best strategy is to try to ignore him as much as possible.

Disagree. As it stands, there will be two HOF stories next year: 1) will Morris make it?, and 2) how will the PED guys get treated? And to the extent Clemens gets debated, that probably only helps Morris. Morris has only a 1-year window to make it -- in his last year of eligibility, Maddux, Glavine and Mussina join the ballot, and Morris will become the 6th-best (at best) starting pitcher on the ballot.

So, the only way to stop Morris IMO is to really elevate Schilling a lot, and make him part of the 2012 story. And it's an interesting story, because Schilling too has a "window" next year, and will probably lose ground when Maddux/Glavine/Mussine arrive (though he might well make it eventually). I would try to make Schilling, rather than Morris, the "clean" anti-Clemens, so anti-steroid voters feel good about supporting him. It's really a more logical contrast than Morris-Clemens anyway: they are more similar pitchers, and you have the Darth/Luke angle that Clemens mentored Schilling.

What does Rich Lederer think about Schilling? He's got time now......
   66. AROM Posted: January 14, 2012 at 04:42 PM (#4037115)
I do like Schilling, and I think he's 100 deserving of HOF. But thinking of him as on the right side in the battle of good vs. evil is impossbile to me. You wear a Red Sox uniform, you're tainted in my eyes.
   67. Booey Posted: January 14, 2012 at 05:28 PM (#4037131)
What also DID happen was these gentlemen pumped themselves full of illegal drugs. Yeah, yeah, TEH GREENIES, but people hate steroids. Deal with it.

I never said they didn't. I'm just saying that projecting out their careers based on assumptions and guesses on what they WOULD have done if they hadn't juiced and basing your opinion on that is just ridiculous. By the same logic, you could rank Koufax as a top 15-20 all time player based on the extra 10 years of superstar pitching seasons you think he may have had if he didn't get that arthritic shoulder. But that condition did happen, and his career value changed because of it. Likewise, the roiders did take those illegal PED's, and their career values changed because of it. Whether or not they should be elected to the HOF because of their choices is a completely separate argument, but when people are talking about greatness and value produced, WHY they were able to produce that value is irrelevant.
   68. BDC Posted: January 14, 2012 at 05:41 PM (#4037136)
So, the only way to stop Morris IMO is to really elevate Schilling a lot

I'll play!

Two highly similar careers:

Player           ERA+  GS
Carl Hubbell      130 433
Curt Schilling    128 436 


Two other highly similar careers:

Player        ERA+  GS
Jack Powell    106 516
Jack Morris    105 527 


Question for potential Hall of Fame voters: who's greater, Jack Powell or Carl Hubbell? :)
   69. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 14, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4037137)
when people are talking about greatness and value produced, WHY they were able to produce that value is irrelevant.


Why? To pick your example, there are plenty of people (not so many on this site, I would guess) who think Sandy Koufax is one of the 10 "greatest" pitchers in major-league history. There are many ways to define "greatness": peak, prime, career, well-roundedness, and the WHY of the value can become extremely relevant depending on how you're defining your terms. If you think "greatness" is defined by one's best "natural" true-talent level at the "natural" peak of one's abilities, that can quite easily and logically lead to giving Sandy Koufax a very high ranking and discounting the accomplishments of Bonds, et al. as "unnatural".

If you define "greatness" as total career value, regardless of how it was achieved, obviously Bonds is in the conversation for best ever and Sandy Koufax falls out of consideration completely because of the arthritic shoulder. But there's no reason why one HAS to define "greatness" that way.
   70. JRVJ Posted: January 14, 2012 at 06:13 PM (#4037146)
57, 59 & 65, ok, so now to keep Morris out of the HoF we have to talk-up Schilling?

Mind you, Schilling (and Mussina, who I am a big fan of) should go into the HoF, but if keeping Morris out of the HoF means talking up that blowhard Schilling, well that's a bridge too far for me.
   71. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: January 14, 2012 at 06:22 PM (#4037150)
BDC had me look up Jack Powell. He gave up a slew of unearned runs. He did know how to win (245 wins), but he also knew how to lost (254 losses.) He was a side-armer. Given all those unearned runs, I guess he was probably a groundball pitcher, if one could make that distinction for Deadball Era pitchers.
   72. cardsfanboy Posted: January 14, 2012 at 06:34 PM (#4037158)
Morris is going in next year, I think that is pretty much a given. Even talking up Schilling isn't going to stop that Bataan march.

I'm almost to the point that the effort to get Trammell(aint happening) and Raines in(eventually it will happen) is a better use of resources. It just galls me, because Morris case, as mentioned in other threads, is anti-intellectualism at it's finest.
   73. bobm Posted: January 14, 2012 at 06:48 PM (#4037160)
[72] Morris is going in next year, I think that is pretty much a given. Even talking up Schilling isn't going to stop that Bataan march.

No hope for a repeat of the Jim Bunning experience?
   74. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: January 14, 2012 at 06:49 PM (#4037161)
What other pitcher in baseball history has won 250 games and has been the ace pitcher on two World Series winners?The problem with this is that Morris doesn't qualify here either. Morris was NOT the ace of the 1991 Twins. Nor the 1984 Tigers. Erickson and Petry both got more votes for the Cy Young. The writers misremember their own narrative because Morris stayed around longer than Erickson and Petry, but both of those pitchers were thought BY THE WRITERS to be better than Morris in 1991 and 1984 respectively.

You're using a very specific definition of ace, and then throwing out the argument because Morris doesn't match your definition of ace. He started game 1 of the WS in both series. Heck, he started games 1, 4 and 7 in 1991. Come on, that's an ace of a World Series winner. Erickson won 20 games and Morris 18, so Erickson was higher on the Cy ballots, but Morris was clearly the ace.
   75. cardsfanboy Posted: January 14, 2012 at 06:56 PM (#4037164)
No hope for a repeat of the Jim Bunning experience?


It's always a possibility I guess, but I just don't see the guys who are currently voting for Morris, changing their vote, and I think we've already seen a couple of ballots in which the writers who didn't vote for him this year have said they will vote for him next year. Bunning had the unfortunate situation of having better candidates on the ballot no matter how you look at it, Morris vs Schilling gives Morris the career edge, and Clemens is just going to help people who played before the age of roids.
   76. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: January 14, 2012 at 07:56 PM (#4037173)
You're using a very specific definition of ace, and then throwing out the argument because Morris doesn't match your definition of ace. He started game 1 of the WS in both series. Heck, he started games 1, 4 and 7 in 1991. Come on, that's an ace of a World Series winner. Erickson won 20 games and Morris 18, so Erickson was higher on the Cy ballots, but Morris was clearly the ace.


He pitched Games 1 of the LCS and World Series in 1992 also. He was the ace of three World Series champions, by any serious definition. The only possible ambiguity is 1992.
   77. OCF Posted: January 14, 2012 at 08:38 PM (#4037180)
For HoM purposes, I've always used RA+, not ERA+. So when someone says that Jack Powell allowed a lot of unearned runs, my react is to say that we'll just look at his RA like I looked at everyone's RA.

For Powell, I get an equivalent record of 263-225. Taken at face value, that's considerably better than Morris's 226-199, since 37-36 has significant value. There are still adjustments you probably want to make to that, the most significant being to ask how good his defensive support was, and the second most significant being to ask how good a hitter he was.

I don't particularly like what Bob Dernier Cri did in #68 in comparing by number of starts - since, of course, Hubbell pitched more innings per start than Schilling did. That's a condition of the times, but the conditions of Schilling's times also included more highly effective, 38, 40, 42 year old pitchers than Hubbell's times. That's its own opportunity.

Going by IP, I have Hubbell's equivalent record as 249-150, which puts him in or almost in the Gibson/Carlton/Blyleven cluster, while Schilling's 227-135 clocks in at about one Cy Young quality season behind, and brings up the names I mentioned in post #59.

Pursuing the comparison to Palmer is difficult, because you can only make that comparison by adjusting for Palmer's defensive support. But comparing Schilling to Whitey Ford? Go for it. Compare Schilling to Ford and Morris to Milt Pappas.
   78. Steve Treder Posted: January 14, 2012 at 09:34 PM (#4037213)
Furthermore, how ABOUT those 49ers!

(Sorry.)
   79. Booey Posted: January 14, 2012 at 09:55 PM (#4037220)
Why? To pick your example, there are plenty of people (not so many on this site, I would guess) who think Sandy Koufax is one of the 10 "greatest" pitchers in major-league history.

There's also plenty of people who think Jack Morris is a HOFer and a "clutch" pitcher, even though the numbers don't support it. Doesn't make them right. And I'm fine if people want to define greatness as peak ability only and include Koufax on a short list of the best pitchers ever; what I meant that I wouldn't be okay with is if they were defining it by career value and they included him anyway based on what could've but didn't happen. The reverse of that is exactly what people are doing with the roiders, and it doesn't make any sense.

If you think "greatness" is defined by one's best "natural" true-talent level at the "natural" peak of one's abilities

Do you know anyone who says they define greatness as a players "natural true talent level at the natural peak of ones abilities" like you suggested above? That's a lot of variants that are deliberately put in to frame the question to favor the candidate they want to support. In simpler terms, cherry-picking.

And again, it's a different statement entirely to say that Bonds (for example) WASN'T really as good as his 2001-2004 numbers than to say that he WOULDN'T have been that good without steroids. The second statement is debatable, but certainly understandable. The first statement is flat out false.

To use an example I used last time I had this debate on BTF (an example the other debater completely ignored), if you were to create a list of the tallest baseball players of the 90's, would you leave Randy Johnson off if you found out he was using some bizarre growth hormone that gave him an extra six inches of height? Wouldn't he still be the tallest player, regardless of how he gained that height? It's a statistical fact. And that's what I argue against in the steroid debates. It's a different argument to say that Bonds WOULDN'T have been as great as Aaron and Mays without roids (and I'd probably agree with that), but to say that he WASN'T as great as them because he took roids is flat out inaccurate.
   80. Something Other Posted: January 15, 2012 at 05:22 AM (#4037287)
Cross posting from another thread, Morris is no Andy Pettitte. That's for sure.

Morris wasn't in Pettitte's zip code as a pitcher. 105 to 117 in ERA+. Huge edge to Pettitte in winning percentage. Pettitte has more CY shares in fewer years. Pettitte's postseason ERA is almost identical to Morris's, but Pettitte pitched in a much higher run scoring environment. He keeps almost that exact 117 to 105 ERA+ edge in the postseason, but in almost three times as many innings.

To have credibility a Morris voter would have to admit Pettitte should go into the Hall first, well ahead of Jack.
   81. AROM Posted: January 15, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4037329)
"To have credibility a Morris voter would have to admit Pettitte should go into the Hall first, well ahead of Jack."

Only if time has no meaning. If you think both are worthy, you vote Morris in now and Pettitte 5 years from now. When Morris will be off the ballot one way or another.
   82. The District Attorney Posted: January 15, 2012 at 12:36 PM (#4037342)
Morris wasn't in Pettitte's zip code as a pitcher.
Only if zip codes have no meaning.
   83. Something Other Posted: January 15, 2012 at 08:55 PM (#4037622)
Continuing from the other thread:

Pettitte is actually the pitcher that Morris supporters claim Morris was. I'm not saying Pettitte is a HOF, but he has a better case than Morris.

He at least had a real peak, although they were spread out, but his entire career was one big prime. Other than his 98 ERA+ in 2008, he never had an ERA+ under 100 and only two other years under 110 in 16 seasons.

That's pretty damn impressive.


That's an excellent point. (As is noting that Morris couldn't muster 200 innings at an average or better ERA in half his seasons--that's some ace!) Give Pettitte one Game Seven studliness, and with Pettitte's overall much superior postseason record you have the pitcher Morris supporters think Morris is. Pettitte pitched in the shadow of Sabathia, Clemens, Mussina, Cone, even David Wells and Black Jack McDowell, all pitchers (certainly the first four, and in their better seasons the latter two) who were clearly superior to Morris. In fact, on a lot of those Yankee teams Morris would have been the very durable, slightly above average third starter (and in a few years, the fourth starter). Nothing wrong with that, but no manager going by quality pitches Morris ahead of Ace, then Pettitte.


*****

Morris wasn't in Pettitte's zip code as a pitcher.

Only if zip codes have no meaning.
Well, Jack does share the first digit of 105 versus 117 (consider that their respective ERA+'s for both the regular season and the postseason).


"To have credibility a Morris voter would have to admit Pettitte should go into the Hall first, well ahead of Jack."

Only if time has no meaning. If you think both are worthy, you vote Morris in now and Pettitte 5 years from now. When Morris will be off the ballot one way or another.
Fair enough--do you think Andy Pettitte is a HOFer?

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