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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Jerry Green: For 15th and final time, Tigers great Jack Morris gets this HOF vote

Don’t let the Green morass fool you! (Morris, Maddux, Glavine, Biggio, Martinez, Piazza, Raines, L. Smith, F. Thomas Trammell)

In 1984, the last time the Tigers won a World Series — getting on 30 years ago — Morris won two games over the San Diego Padres.

He was a no-name with a no-decision back in 1977. But the other day, I checked the box next his name on my Hall of Fame ballot for the 15th — and final — time and dropped it into a mailbox. He is bound to fail again — kept out of his deserved spot in Cooperstown by prejudice and misunderstanding by the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. He moves on to be judged by a Veterans Committee in a few years.

“I know I’m a dinosaur,” Morris said earlier this year after he had missed election to the Hall of Fame by a narrow margin.

Now Morris is confronted by a logjam.

He knows it.

...There has been a great deal of controversy about the electoral process for the Hall of Fame. The voting has been restricted to newspaper baseball writers for the 44 years that I have been a qualified voter. That means no TV guys, no radio guys.

Lately, the BBWAA has become a little more flexible.

For all these years, I have regarded voting for the Hall of Fame as something sacred, a trust, an honor. It is not a frivolous duty. But perhaps we all have become dinosaurs.

This year, one of the 700 plus voters among us sold his — or her — Hall of Fame ballot to Deadspin.com. The person remains anonymous. The guy is a traitor, and once upon a time there was way to deal with those committing treason. A firing squad.

Oops, baseball is a game.

Deadspin thrives on the irreverent, the controversial, the attack on the old-fashioned. The circus again. And guess what? I am admittedly old and old-fashioned.

But despite my stodginess, I also find Deadspin worth a bunch of giggles. Most of the content is funny. Not this time.

 

Repoz Posted: December 28, 2013 at 09:14 PM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, hof

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   1. hardrain Posted: December 28, 2013 at 09:29 PM (#4625391)
here we go...
   2. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: December 28, 2013 at 09:46 PM (#4625401)
Jack Morris had a great game.
   3. madvillain Posted: December 28, 2013 at 10:02 PM (#4625404)
It is time to hand the voting over to a philosopher king. I nominate Will Leitch.
   4. Jacob Posted: December 28, 2013 at 10:34 PM (#4625411)
He voted for him 15 times. At least, he's consistent.
   5. Bug Selig Posted: December 28, 2013 at 11:15 PM (#4625425)
Now Morris is confronted by a logjam.


Doesn't that mean "There's a whole bunch of better players on the ballot"? How do you say that while also claiming that he is a victim of "prejudice and misunderstanding"?
   6. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 28, 2013 at 11:21 PM (#4625428)
“I know I’m a dinosaur,” Morris said earlier this year after he had missed election to the Hall of Fame by a narrow margin.

If Morris is a dinosaur, what does that make dear old Jerry? Dirt?

EDIT: Oh, wait. Jerry thinks he's a dinosaur too. Good to know.
   7. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM (#4625431)
OMG, Jerry voted for 10 players!
And the practice in writing Hall of Fame columns in the Internet era is to open the writers’ ballots for public scrutiny. OK, I voted for Morris and Alan Trammell. Not a homer’s vote, but the vote of a journalist who appreciates baseball and baseball achievement. Proof is my other eight were Maddux, Glavine, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Lee Smith and Frank Thomas.

   8. President of the David Eckstein Fan Club Posted: December 28, 2013 at 11:39 PM (#4625437)
For all these years, I have regarded voting for the Hall of Fame as something sacred, a trust, an honor. It is not a frivolous duty. But perhaps we all have become dinosaurs.

This year, one of the 700 plus voters among us sold his — or her — Hall of Fame ballot to Deadspin.com. The person remains anonymous. The guy is a traitor, and once upon a time there was way to deal with those committing treason. A firing squad.


Have to admit that this part made me laugh.
   9. Gonfalon B. Posted: December 29, 2013 at 12:12 AM (#4625451)
It's entirely appropriate to the HoF ballot, too, after the way the BBWAA wore blindfolds during the 1990s and early 2000s.
   10. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 29, 2013 at 12:49 AM (#4625464)
An old-school guy that used all ten of his slots, voted for Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, and Biggio...good enough for me. In past years, I suspect this guy was an example of part of the "problem" - but if he is somebody who helps these four plus Morris (who will be off the ballot after this year, regardless), then we are seeing the logjam getting addressed. Good times, good times.
   11. The Yankee Clapper Posted: December 29, 2013 at 01:40 AM (#4625481)
This year, one of the 700 plus voters among us sold his — or her — Hall of Fame ballot to Deadspin.com. The person remains anonymous. The guy is a traitor, and once upon a time there was way to deal with those committing treason. A firing squad.

Will the BBWAA put a contract out on the traitor? Do they need to vote on that? If it's the same threshold as the Hall of Fame, the guy may be OK, although I suspect it won't be a good career move.
   12. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: December 29, 2013 at 01:57 AM (#4625487)
Now Morris is confronted by a logjam.
Doesn't that mean "There's a whole bunch of better players on the ballot"? How do you say that while also claiming that he is a victim of "prejudice and misunderstanding"?
I'm all for keeping Morris out unless he buys a ticket, but this kind of "gotcha" is just weird, and all too common on this site. There's nothing about saying he's "confronted by a logjam" that implies the author thinks the other players are better; it's merely a recognition of the reality that lots of voters are going to vote for lots of players besides Morris. It does not imply that the author agrees with those other voters about the relative merits of Morris and those other players.

And even if the author does agree that many of the other players are better than Morris, "confronted by a logjam" is still consistent with the view that Morris should have been in years ago, and will be permanently disqualified due to the coincidence of there being a logjam in his final year of eligibility.
   13. DL from MN Posted: December 29, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4625529)
I thought Morris was a beneficiary of prejudice and misunderstanding, not a victim.
   14. Bug Selig Posted: December 29, 2013 at 12:20 PM (#4625598)
And even if the author does agree that many of the other players are better than Morris, "confronted by a logjam" is still consistent with the view that Morris should have been in years ago, and will be permanently disqualified due to the coincidence of there being a logjam in his final year of eligibility.


I guess it's a perspective thing. What you're saying is true, as far as it goes. What he says is consistent with that view. And perhaps I dismissed the consistency of that view in light of my complete rejection of its validity. One can use valid reasoning from a invalid starting point, for whatever that's worth, and the fault lies in the assumption rather than the reasoning.

That said, what he says is also consistent with a guy trying to make an excuse for his favorite unqualified candidate who didn't get in for the 14 years that he wasn't confronted by a logjam. To those of us that think he's not among the best 10 SP's outside the Hall, guess which rings more true? Particularly when it is paired with a completely unsupported claim of "prejudice and misunderstanding". What prejudice? What misunderstanding? His whole case is based on misunderstanding of where wins come from, and I can't begin to speculate about what boogeyman of prejudice he is seeing.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: December 29, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4625636)
If he's voted for Morris for all 15 ballots, then I have no problem with his current ballot. I'm glad to see him giving Trammell a vote also, and filling in ten spots. Outside of the attacks against current baseball writing/internet age, this isn't a bad ballot for a staunch anti-PED guy.

   16. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: December 29, 2013 at 05:15 PM (#4625834)
Of course you can use valid reasoning despite starting from an invalid assumption, and you'll reach an invalid conclusion by doing so. That was my point. You were acting as if his reasoning was invalid because he started from an invalid assumption.
   17. LargeBill Posted: December 29, 2013 at 11:56 PM (#4626100)
13. DL from MN Posted: December 29, 2013 at 09:12 AM (#4625529)
I thought Morris was a beneficiary of prejudice and misunderstanding, not a victim.


And we have a winner. Sadly the guy who wrote this column is unlikely to read this and even if he did even less likely to understand it.
   18. Cooper Nielson Posted: December 30, 2013 at 05:07 AM (#4626204)
If he's voted for Morris for all 15 ballots, then I have no problem with his current ballot. I'm glad to see him giving Trammell a vote also, and filling in ten spots. Outside of the attacks against current baseball writing/internet age, this isn't a bad ballot for a staunch anti-PED guy.

Yeah, it's not how I would vote, but I don't really think it's "unacceptable."

I know the Hall of Fame is supposed to be a binary thing -- you're in or you're out, and if you're deserving in Year 15, you should have been just as deserving in previous years (unless there were 10 more deserving players ahead of you). But I do think that the number/percentage of votes a guy gets, even when it's nowhere near 75%, does have some significance.

For example, Dale Murphy was never going to get voted in by the BBWAA, but the fact that he was able to consistently out-poll Juan Gonzalez and Harold Baines does seem "appropriate." Ballot-clogging issues aside, I'd rather see a guy like Murphy stick around for 15 years than be one-and-done. There's a certain level of recognition -- maybe it's the proverbial "Hall of Very Good" -- bestowed in that.

Jack Morris is another guy who I don't think is truly HOF-worthy (and I'm sure I don't need to explain why), but at the same time I don't think he should appear on ZERO ballots. Obviously there's some "gray area" between Bobby Witt and Greg Maddux, and I don't mind if that shows up in the vote total. For the sake of argument, let's say Morris deserves to be in the 1-5% range with guys like Dennis Martinez, Fernando Valenzuela, and Dwight Gooden.

Anyway, for that to happen, someone has to vote for him, and that someone would look a heckuva lot like Jerry Green -- and old dude representing the city where Morris spent the bulk of his career.
   19. zonk Posted: December 30, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4626244)
Yeah - this is about the best ballot one could hope for from a writer of this guy's particulra persuasion...

I will gladly take a Morris vote for Raines AND Trammell vote.

I'm sure I've missed some, but thus far - I'm pleasantly surprised at the ballots we've seen reported... they're generally full or close to it and while we're getting a steaming pile of Morris, we've been spared entirely any Mattingly.

Maybe they all feel bad for one-and-doing Kenny Lofton... and they should.
   20. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 30, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4626295)
Obviously there's some "gray area" between Bobby Witt and Greg Maddux, and I don't mind if that shows up in the vote total.


Jack Morris is in some "gray area" between Bobby Witt and Dave Stewart. John Smoltz is in a different galaxy, much less Greg Maddux.

For the sake of argument, let's say Morris deserves to be in the 1-5% range with guys like Dennis Martinez, Fernando Valenzuela, and Dwight Gooden.


Martinez and Gooden were both better than Morris. I'd rather have Gooden's 1985 season than an extra thousand innings of below-average pitching.

Morris absolutely should appear on zero ballots right now, in 2013. I doubt he ever once in 15 years was one of the ten best players on the ballot, but even if he was, he sure as hell isn't now. He probably isn't one of the best 15 currently eligible players. Might not be one of the best 20.
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: December 30, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4626308)
Martinez and Gooden were both better than Morris. I'd rather have Gooden's 1985 season than an extra thousand innings of below-average pitching.


I would rather have Gooden's 1985 season than a lot of hofers, including guys like Nolan Ryan... but the hof isn't about one season, it's about a sustained excellence. Gooden beats Jack on best season and two best seasons, but after that Jacks 4th-7th season beats Goodens 4th/3rd best season etc...

I do not think Jack belongs in the hof, but he defintely belongs there before Gooden.
   22. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 30, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4626313)
Martinez and Gooden were both better than Morris. I'd rather have Gooden's 1985 season than an extra thousand innings of below-average pitching.

And here is where the "Vote for X, and you have to vote for Y because X is just Y plus a decline phase" argument reaches its reductio ad absurdum.
   23. GregD Posted: December 30, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4626319)
I have Morris solidly out both of my personal
Hof and the real hof but wasn't he in the top ten players on the 2009 ballot and several years before that? If you said Lee Smith, I would agree with that as I don't think he has ever been in the top ten eligible players
   24. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: December 30, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4626332)
I have Morris solidly out both of my personal
Hof and the real hof but wasn't he in the top ten players on the 2009 ballot and several years before that?


In 2009, I'd have him at least 13th - Rickey, Trammell, Raines, Blyleven, Dawson, McGwire, Cone, Murphy, John, Rice, Mattingly, Matt Williams. I'm not sure whether Morris or Dave Parker would be the 13th.
2008 didn't have Rickey yet, but it had one-and-out Chuck Finley who I'd rank higher than Morris and Gossage that I probably would.
2007 didn't have Raines yet, but it had Ripken and Gwynn (who I'd obviously rank higher) and 3 eliminated players I'd rank higher than Morris (Saberhagen, Hershiser, Belle).
   25. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 30, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4626337)
Crispix: Nah, but in this particular case it's an interesting question to me. A case can be made that Gooden's 1985 was the greatest pitching season in modern history (it is in fact the #1 pitcher season since 1920 by bWAR). At what point does that became more valuable than 1000 innings of merely decent pitching?

I probably did step too far by saying I'd take it over 1000 innings of Jack Morris, but not by too much. Gooden earned 12.6 bWAR in 1985; Morris earned 17.6 in the best four-year stretch of his career (1984-1987). Five wins is nothing to sneeze at, but then there is validity to the idea that flags fly forever and getting 12-plus wins out of one player in one season makes it very likely you're going to get a flag (though the 1985 Mets, remarkably, did not).
   26. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: December 30, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4626339)
I'd put Gooden over Morris. They're very close in career value, but Gooden at least had a brief moment of greatness that Morris ever did. Even if that's too aggressive, Gooden certainly isn't *inferior* to Morris.
   27. Blackadder Posted: December 30, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4626365)
I probably did step too far by saying I'd take it over 1000 innings of Jack Morris, but not by too much. Gooden earned 12.6 bWAR in 1985; Morris earned 17.6 in the best four-year stretch of his career (1984-1987). Five wins is nothing to sneeze at, but then there is validity to the idea that flags fly forever and getting 12-plus wins out of one player in one season makes it very likely you're going to get a flag (though the 1985 Mets, remarkably, did not).


I've always liked, as a quick and dirty peak heavy ranking method, taking the sums of squares of seasonal WARs; this means that e.g. one 8 WAR season is worth twice as much as two 4 WAR seasons. Morris's 4 best years add up to 109.7, while Gooden's 1985 pitching WAR is worth 146.4. Amusingly, Gooden was really good hitter in 1985, contributing an extra 1.1 WAR to give him 13.2 total, which squares to 174.2. This is not terribly far behind Morris' career total of 184.1.

There are peak heavy pitchers in the Hall like Dizzy Dean and Sandy Koufax. I probably wouldn't vote for Gooden, but having possibly the single best pitching season in modern baseball history--and as Dan R notes his 1984 FIP was also historic, although it's obviously more controversial how much weight to give that--makes him at least a plausible candidate to me, certainly better than Morris.
   28. BDC Posted: December 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4626396)
Awhile ago I noticed that Ernie Banks, often a point of reference in peak/career debates, had five seasons of 6 or better WAR: they make his case, and he could have retired after his tenth season and not have weakened it substantially; everything he did after that just ran up career milestones as a proxy to how great he was.

As a very rudimentary benchmark, you can list players who had five seasons of 6 or better WAR; most of them are in the Hall or have well-discussed cases. It's rare for someone who's racked up that peak to fail to confirm it in the rest of a career (though there are exceptions: Chase Utley, Nomar Garciaparra). Even the weakest starting pitchers with five seasons of 6 WAR have strong cases: Wes Ferrell, Kevin Brown.

Koufax and Dean have four 6-WAR seasons apiece, and a fifth that is almost there (5.7 for Koufax, 5.6 for Dean). Gooden has one (1985, of course) and a second of 5.5 (plus 0.2 with the bat, 1984). Blackadder is right that Gooden's 1985 was supreme. But I always wonder how much a single supreme season indicates. Koufax and Dean really established they were consistently outstanding, despite not having longevity at a good or even average level. But a single season could be subject to all sorts of Norm-Cashy fortuitousness: not fluke, but illusions that amplify the greatness, and everything breaking right. In Gooden's case, he really did look that good, and the season is just tremendous. But it's still one season.
   29. zonk Posted: December 30, 2013 at 01:04 PM (#4626401)

Morris absolutely should appear on zero ballots right now, in 2013. I doubt he ever once in 15 years was one of the ten best players on the ballot, but even if he was, he sure as hell isn't now. He probably isn't one of the best 15 currently eligible players. Might not be one of the best 20.


Hmmm.... an interesting little exercise.... Let's walk back through the ballots. I'm a big hall guy - so I feel comfortable saying that I'd be going 10 deep every year. Just going back of napkin here, not HoM list-like, so it's possible I change my mind from one year to the next...

2000: Fisk, Carter, and Blyleven were all clearly better. That leaves 7 slots -- I'd have voted Luis Tiant, Goose Gossage, Jim Kaat, Tommy John, Dave Parker, Keith Hernandez, and Dale Murphy ahead of him. Also in a battle for the 10th and final spot on the ballot would have been Tony Perez, Ron Guidry, Jim Rice, Bruce Sutter, and (vomit) Steve Garvey. Hard to see how Morris beats out anyone. Verdict: No room for Jack. I have him 13th

2001: Fisk and Perez entered the hall, but newly eligible were Winfield, Puckett, and Whitaker. Obviously - Whitaker was a shameful one and done. Two spots open up, two no doubters (Whitaker, Winfield) and a maybe (Puckett) added. Mattingly also hit the ballot for the first time - but I think I'd probably take Morris over him. Verdict: Morris probably slips a couple spots. I have him 15th

2002: Ozzie gets elected in his first ballot while Trammell and Dawson debut. Tiant falls short in his 15th try. Guidry also falls below 5%. Three better players debut, one gets elected -- but two competitors fall by the wayside. Morris is still mired somewhere in the teens, but loses a couple of competitors for the 10th spot in GUidry and Tiant. Elected: Ozzie Smith Debuts: Trammell, Ozzie Smith, Dawson. <5%/15th year: Tiant, Guidry Verdict: Morris probably holds serve somewhere in the mid-teens - I have him still 15th.

2003: Eddie Murray, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, and Fernando Valenzuela debut. Murray gets elected his first time out, Carter goes in on his 6th. I think you can make argument that Morris picks up a spot when you calculate the. Elected: Murray, Gary Carter <5%/15th year: Jim Kaat Verdict: I have Morris picking up a spot to 14th.

2004: Morris starts to really get crunched -- Molitor and Eckersly go on their first try. Dennis Martinez and Dave Stieb go one and done. Hernandez falls below 5%. Elected: Molitor, Eckersly <5%/15th year: Hernandez, Stieb, Martinez Verdict: Brutal ballot for Jack -- I have him falling to 17th.

2005: Things clear a bit with the mistakes of 2004 (Stieb, Martinez, and maybe Hernandez dropping off). Only Wade Boggs debuts and he goes on his first try, together with Sandberg. No other debuts of significant note -- Strawberry, McGee, etc... but I'd vote Morris over all of them, I think. Verdict: A decent year for Morris- I see him maybe 14th or even 13th.

2006: Belle, Hershiser, Will Clark, and Doc Gooden debut. I think Morris is roughly tied with Hershiser, frankly... If you took Orel's peak and spread it like durability over his cromulent late career, I think you have have Jack Morris. Sutter goes in - I think I'd frankly take Jack over Bruce. Verdict: I have Morris losing a couple spots back down to 15th. I'm not sure which of the newcomers I'd put in front of him, but at least 2 of them -- maybe all 4.

2007: Brutal ballot time again for Jack -- Ripken and Gwynn debut (and go on their first try). Baines, McGwire, and Saberhagen debut. There's also Canseco, Devo White (if you're into dWAR), and a handful of other interesting names. Verdict: Tough year for Jack - I have him almost falling out of the top 20 -- 19th. However, being Tony/Cal going first time out -- Saberhagen getting overlooked, and a coupe others (Hershiser, Belle) falling off, he can't be unhappy with this ballot.

2008: Raines is the only debut of note. I think you could argue Chuck Finley as a Morris competitor as well (he goes one and done). Verdict: I could see Jack picking up a fair a bit of ground - back in to the high teens. I have him 13th on this ballot, possibly even 12th on some days.

2009: Rickey! goes on his 1st, Rice on his 15th. Grace debuts and goes one and done -- but David Cone debuting and bowing out with only 3.9% is the crime here. Tommy John also fails in his 15th try. Verdict: I have Morris 14th, falling behind Cone and Henderson.

2010: Alomar, Edgar, McGriff, and Larkin debut as, I think, clearly superior candidates. Ventura, Galarraga, and Appier debut as competition. Verdict: Morris really starts to tumble here -- good thing for him a number of debuts fall flat. I have him all the way back down to 18th.

2011: Bagwell, Kevin Brown, Palmeiro, Walker, and Olerud debut. Alomar and Blyleven get in. Verdict: Morris is almost out of the top 20 - I have him down to 19th... maybe even 20th if I were to Cubs fanboy Lee Smith (and I won't because most Cubs fans actually do not have fond memories of Lee Smith). The good news for Morris is that a ton of candidates that are a shelf above him get knocked off the ballot for one reason or another.

2012: Bernie Williams is the only newcomer of note - Tim Salmon also one and done debuts, but I think I have him one notch below Morris. The 2011 massacre helps Jack immensely. Verdict: I could see Jack as high as 12th, depending on where I rank Brad Radke (another newcomer). 12th/13th.

2013: Brutal debut year -- Biggio, Piazza, Sosa, Clemens, Bonds, Schilling, Lofton -- and even a couple guys like David Wells and Steve Finley that aren't HoFers, but are Morris competition. Verdict: In his 14th try -- I actually have Jack just barely staying in the top 20. I put him 20th on this ballot.

2014: Yeah - with Lofton and Williams falling off -- but replaced by Maddux, Mussina, Glavine, Thomas.... Verdict: I think Morris is probably somewhere in the low 20s. I have him 22nd.

So there ya go.... I think there are a couple ballots where I might have him just 2 or 3 spots short of cracking the top 10, but mostly hovering in the teens, often in the late teens on good ballots.
   30. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: December 30, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4626460)
Wow, this guy thinks Jack Morris is a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Check your head, dude.
   31. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 30, 2013 at 03:15 PM (#4626535)
zonk: Nice analysis but you seriously insulted Orel Hershiser there.
   32. Blackadder Posted: December 30, 2013 at 03:43 PM (#4626554)
But a single season could be subject to all sorts of Norm-Cashy fortuitousness: not fluke, but illusions that amplify the greatness, and everything breaking right. In Gooden's case, he really did look that good, and the season is just tremendous. But it's still one season.


I agree, which is what makes his awesome FIP in 1984 so enticing. Maybe he really was that good for two years rather than one...
   33. Tripon Posted: December 30, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4626594)
I'd be for voting Morris' great game into the Hall of Fame. Is there a great moments in Baseball category?

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