Jack Morris debate: Is he a Hall of Famer?

  • Blog Post by: Howard Sinker
  • December 4, 2012 - 10:15 AM

Jack Morris has two more chances to get into baseball's Hall of Fame and, aside from the heroes of the steroid era, his ballot chances are the ones that meet with some of the loudest debate over whether he should be inducted.

Here's points and counterpoint, followed by the point of view from Morris himself:

Matthew Pouliot of Hardball Talk, the baseball web site, wrote Tuesday morning that Morris did not have a Hall of Fame career:  "The funny thing is that the writers once knew this. When Morris debuted on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2000, he received 22 percent of the vote. His support dipped to 20 percent in 2001, and he only reached 30 percent on his sixth try in 2005. Now he’s all of the way up to 66.7 percent, still for no good reason that I can see.

"Morris’ backers say he was the best pitcher of the 1980s and that he pitched one of the greatest games of all-time to clinch the 1991 World Series for the Twins. I take no issue with the latter statement; Morris’ stellar duel with the Braves’ John Smoltz in which he went the distance for a 1-0, 10-inning victory was a true masterpiece and should never be forgotten. And it won’t be.

"The rest of the case for Morris is weak."

You can read the rest of Pouliot's case, including his contention that Morris is at best a candidate for "best pitcher of the 1980s" here.

Arguing for Morris is Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated, who writes that "having covered Morris through his prime, I knew the way baseball people (especially managers and opposing players) valued him while he was pitching and not in the autopsy of numbers: as a prototypical ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball -- not just as a good pitcher. It made me think, why had people in uniform valued Morris more while he was playing than I did after he was done?

"As I crunched more numbers, I realized I underestimated the value of having an ace who takes the ball deep into games not just start after start but also year after year -- and not just as any "innings-eater" pitcher, but as the guy who wants the responsibilities of starting Opening Day, starting Game 1 of a postseason series, saving a bullpen, stopping a losing streak, setting an example for an entire pitching staff and all those reasons why a No. 1 is a No. 1.

"I was surprised how much better Morris looked when viewed through that prism."

Verducci also argues: "What made Morris Morris was that three different teams made him the definitive ace of the staff and he filled that role unlike anybody else in his era and in the company of the best workhorses of the past half century."

Read more of Verducci's piece here.

Finally, David Brown of the blog Big league Stew, spoke to Morris at the baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville.

Morris told Brown: "I'm optimistic but I've also come to terms with that it's an important lesson life: 'You don't always get what you want.' No. 1, it's an honor to be honored every year and, two, I've been kind of a controversial figure in the Hall of Fame because of the 'cybernetics' guys, the numbers guys, vs. the guys who use … call it 'the eyeball test.' You know, 'Were you there? Did you ever see me pitch?"

And about Game 7 of the 1991 World Series? Morris said even that has a downside: "I kind of chuckle inside when people always talk to me about that. And it's like, 'Gosh, I pitched a lot of baseball games.' I threw three one-hitters, I threw a no-hitter. And they don't even talk about those."

Read the rest of Brown's interview with Morris here.

What do you think?


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