Friday, February 15, 2013

5 comments Jack Morris is a Winning Winner Who Just Wins

It should come as no shock that Jerry Green really likes Jack Morris and believes Morris should be in the baseball Hall of Fame. Jerry comes from the old school that says a pitcher who wins game is a very valuable pitcher because he "knows how to win" (as Joe Morgan used to say). Jerry also likes Jack Morris because Morris was super-clutch and had this one really great game that he pitched in the World Series and was otherwise great (but not Hall of Fame worthy) over the rest of his career. So because Jack Morris is a winner, had a lot of complete games, and pitched very well in this one World Series game he should be in the Hall of Fame. Even the title of the article sounds like a parody of those who champion Morris as a Hall of Fame pitcher. It is entitled "Former Tigers Ace Jack Morris Was a Complete Winner." It's like the article is asking to be posted here.

The article starts off with a picture of Lance Parrish and Jack Morris shaking hands. Naturally in Jerry Green's opinion, Lance Parrish should be in the Hall of Fame as well because he's a winner who catches winning pitchers and makes this pitcher win games.

All of baseball America fidgeted in suspense, all of us watching on television, all of those in the ballpark that night. Everybody but … the one guy who stood in the brightly lit middle of this World Series drama.

Wait, is Jerry Green summarizing the plot of "For the Love of the Game" again?

He managed to strike out the batter to end the top of the ninth, the score still zip-zip.

Jack Morris is a winning winner because Lonnie Smith is a dumbass and got confused by Chuck Knoblauch's deception and slowed down before he could score the eventual game-winning run to make the Braves win one-zip in nine innings.

And as he approached the dugout the manager waited, as managers do, with the hook. Their conversation is reconstructed something like this:

"Reconstructed" being a polite way of saying, "completely and utterly made up." Jerry Green is just creating this conversation from nothing to support his own contention. The conversation could have gone like Jerry said it did, as follows:

Manager: "Nice job. You've pitched nine. You're done. If we don't get a run now, I'm going to the bullpen."

Pitcher: "No, you're not. It's my game. I started it, I'll finish it. I want the ball."

This type of conversation completely fabricated by Jerry Green supports his contention that Jack Morris is a gamer who refuses to leave the game until the job is done. Naturally, this merits his being in the Hall of Fame since he is the first and only pitcher ever to insist he stay in a World Series game while the game is tied.

But..................the conversation could have also gone as follows: 

Manager: "Nice job. You are staying in the game though. I'm not taking you out." 

Pitcher: "I'm exhausted and Pierre and I have a party we need to get to later tonight. Please pull me." 

Manager: "If you leave the game now I won't give you the shipment of cocaine I promised you after the game. I know how you and Pierre like to snort cocaine out of an underage boy's belly button. You leave the game, your blow leaves too." 

Pitcher: "Fine, I'm staying in. This mustache does help keep the blow well-organized in my nose and catches any cocaine-related run-off though." 

You know, the conversation could have gone either way. One way makes Jack Morris look like a hero and supports Jerry Green's point. The other way makes Jack Morris look like a homosexual pedophile with a cocaine problem. Hey, I can fabricate stories too.

So Jack Morris got his way, the only way he ever knew. Tom Kelly, the manager, relented, and Morris went out and pitched the 10th inning.

According to Jerry Green's story. According to my story, Jack Morris and his love Pierre did make it to the party to snort cocaine off an underage boy's belly button. Not coincidentally, Jerry Green's story is a desperate attempt to support the induction of Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame. When you don't have facts, make shit up.

And in the bottom of the 10th, the Twins scored the one run necessary to win. To win the game 1-0. To win Game 7 of a grueling World Series with the Braves. To win for Morris, a 10-inning shutout. To win a monumental ballgame etched deeply into the history of baseball itself.

One big win in a World Series Game 7 does not a Hall of Fame career-make. I'm all for taking a player's postseason success into account in addition to using that player's regular season career statistics as a measure for his Hall of Fame-worthiness. It seems the Hall of Fame candidacy for Jack Morris boils down to Game 7 of the 1991 World Series (while ignoring all of his other postseason performances), labeling him as the ace of X amount of MLB teams and remarking on how many complete games he threw as a starter. Those who favor Morris for Hall of Fame induction have to use these measures because otherwise he would be a prime candidate for the proverbial "Hall of Very Good."

He did win this game though. He's a winner.

To win, dammit!

To win! See what Jack Morris' Hall of Fame resume makes Jerry Green do? It makes him use foul language. He's so passionate about letting very good pitchers into the Hall of Fame that is intended to honor only the best of the best.

When the ballgame is over — a World Series game or a Super Bowl or a Thursday game in mid-June — all that truly matters is which team won.

This is very true, but as I have detailed probably 100 times, whether a pitcher wins a game isn't completely dependent on how well he pitches. It also depends on his run support. If the Twins had scored 10 runs against John Smoltz in the first six innings then Morris wouldn't be seen as such a hero. Alas, they did not score 10 runs in the first six innings so Morris is a hero. But the perception of Morris' performance is partially based on the run support he received. Wins are not only measures of how well a pitcher pitched, but also how much run support that pitcher received.

And in this World Series classic in 1991, the Minnesota Twins won — and Jack Morris won — and Tom Kelly won — and Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbek — they all won.

Everyone won. We get it. You play to win the game.

I challenge all 600-plus voting colleagues in the Baseball Writers Association of America to find any other purpose for playing these ballgames — above winning.

Simply because the purpose of the game is to win doesn't mean because Jack Morris won a Game 7 in the World Series he should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Look, Jack Morris entire resume, including his playoff record, don't merit him making the Hall of Fame. Morris was a workhorse in the regular season and was very inconsistent in the postseason. He's been very good and very bad. Check out Morris' postseason statistics.

Not even for money, profits.

Don't be naive. The players also play for money. Always have and always will.

Shut out — not like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, their careers tainted — a total zero Hall of Fame election. Jack stood up for 18 major league seasons with the Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays and Indians untainted — and unelected.

Part of the reason Morris isn't in the Hall of Fame is that he doesn't deserve to be. There's that. I can't wait until next year when Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux are up for Hall of Fame consideration. Those two pitchers are an example of what a Hall of Fame pitcher should look like. Their resumes make Jack Morris look like a hobo.

And that one shot next year is clouded by the first-year Hall of Fame eligibility of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. Plus Mike Mussina.

Don't you just hate it when deserving Hall of Fame candidates overshadow undeserving Hall of Fame candidates? It's just not fair (stomps feet on the ground).

In a re-analysis, it is obvious that the names of Bonds and Clemens and Sammy Sosa, along with Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, on the ballot caused the collected voting writers to shoot a blank.

"It threw all of us under the bus," Morris said during a telephone conversation the other day after he was shut out again.

No, they didn't Jack. You don't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame and that is the conclusion that can be drawn. Move along and I bid you a good day, sir. 

Maddux and Glavine are certainly first-ballot worthy — if a sufficient number of my 600-plus voting colleagues decide not to continue to try to shut down the Hall of Fame.

Jerry Green doesn't get it, does he? This year's vote wasn't a case of every player on the ballot not getting inducted because of the steroid users. This year's vote was a case of steroid users not getting elected and the other borderline Hall of Fame candidates not being elected based on their own merit. It's easier and lazier to blame Jack Morris' condition on the steroid users. While we are at it, I'm sure it is Jay Cutler's fault too. Let's partially blame him.

But it was Jack himself who pointed out a hidden issue. Maddux and Glavine pitched exclusively in the National League. No designated hitter there. Weak-hitting pitchers are locked at No. 9 in every NL batting order.

If Jack Morris thinks he would have been as good as Maddux and Glavine if he played in the National League then he is delusional. All of this Hall of Fame support from guys like Jerry Green is clearly going to his head if he thinks Maddux won 101 more games because he pitched in the National League his entire career. The same thing goes for Glavine. He didn't win 51 more games than Morris because he pitched in the National League.

Maddux won 355 games and Glavine won 305 games against NL batting orders. In comparison, Morris won 254 games against batting orders with nine qualified hitters.

God, you are a moron if you think one additional hitter in the lineup equates to 51-101 more games won for Jack Morris. Actually, Jerry Green is on the right track. Imagine how many more games Jack Morris would have won if he managed to keep his career ERA a little further below 4.00 or actually managed to put up statistics that deserve induction into the Hall of Fame. If Morris really was a Hall of Fame pitcher he would have statistics like Glavine and Maddux. Good point by Jerry.

Maybe playing in the National League did have something to do with Maddux or Glavine having the low ERAs they did, but there was still a level playing field because Maddux and Glavine were pitching against other pitchers who pitched in the National League. So Glavine and Maddux didn't win more games because they played in the National League since it was an even playing field. It doesn't make sense to say Maddux or Glavine had an advantage in winning more games than Morris if you think logically or think at all. Perhaps playing right smack in the middle of the Steroid Era that Jerry Green rails so hard against cost Maddux and Glavine some wins. Wait, Jerry didn't think of that counterpoint did he? He didn't think perhaps Glavine and Maddux had to pitch against juiced up players while Jack Morris did not.

I lean more towards the seven years from 1992-1998 when Maddux never had an ERA below 3.00 and had an ERA below twice as why he won so many games.

"I pitched my entire career in the American League during the DH era," Jack said. "How do you justify for that?"

How do you justify for Maddux/Glavine pitching right in the middle of the Steroid Era. Shut up and sit down. You aren't a Hall of Fame pitcher no matter how much you whine otherwise.

The quibble many negative-oriented baseball writers have with Morris, supposedly, is his career earned-run average of 3.90. It compares with ERAs of 3.16 for Maddux on his four National League clubs and 3.54 for Glavine on his two NL clubs.

"The league ERA in the American League is 0.38 higher than the National League," Morris said — a preciously rare statistic.

"I'd be a lot lower if I pitched in the National League."

Do you need your binky now?

Imagine how high Jack Morris' ERA would have been if he pitched in the National League against Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds while they were juicing. I'm not sure Morris could have had an ERA under 5.00.

"My point is I took the ball into a game longer than anybody," he said.

My point is this isn't Hall of Fame-worthy criteria alone.

"I pitched against 17 Hall of Famers," Morris said. "Maddux, Glavine and Mussina can't say that.

Partly because many of the players they pitched against aren't in the Hall of Fame yet.

Morris is a long-distance winner in this category. He pitched 175 complete games in his 18 seasons. Maddux pitched 109 complete games in 23 seasons; Glavine pitched 56 in his 22 seasons.

Wow, if it was the "Hall of Complete Games" then Jack Morris would be a first-ballot Hall of Fame pitcher. Let's play the cherry-picked numbers game. The lowest ERA Morris had in a single season was 3.05. Maddux had a lower ERA in a single-season 11 times, including three years right in the middle of the Steroid Era, and Glavine had a lower ERA in a single-season 6 times, including two years right in the middle of the Steroid Era.

When winning counts the most, in the pennant playoffs and the World Series, Morris excelled.

Really? He had a career 3.80 ERA in the postseason (sound familiar? His career ERA was 3.90) and posted an ERA over 6.00 in a postseason series 3 times. Morris only pitched in 7 postseason series in his career by the way. So he really wasn't that big when it counted most. He was awful in the postseason at times.

"I want the ball," Morris would tell Sparky Anderson before opening days and before the World Series. And Sparky would hand it to him. And then Sparky would ride with Jack longer than he would with any of his other pitchers. There were times Sparky would head out to the mound with his hook, looking toward the bullpen — and Morris would chase his manager right back to the dugout.

That's a great story. It doesn't mean Morris needs to be in the Hall of Fame.

That night in San Diego, Game 1 of the World Series, the Tigers won 3-2, by grace of Larry Herndon's two-run home run. Jack went nine, with Sparky twitching the last three innings. Four days later at Tiger Stadium, the Tigers defeated the Padres, 4-2, by grace of Alan Trammell's two home runs. Jack again went nine.

Notice how Morris needed the benefit of the offense scoring runs in order to win these World Series games. It's almost like winning games as a pitcher is connected in some way to the offense scoring runs for that pitcher.

I'd love to know what happened in 1992 World Series where Morris had an ERA of 8.44. Notice Jerry isn't telling any inspirational and exciting stories about Morris in that World Series when he went up against Atlanta again.

Morris' accumulated World Series ERA for the Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays is 2.96.

His career ERA in the ALCS? 4.87. The cherry-picking of statistics is fun.

Maddux and Glavine were great pitchers. No dispute.

But they did not match Morris' record in playoffs and World Series. Morris went 4-2 in World Series starts with three complete games and 7-4 overall in postseason starts with five complete games. In contrast, Maddux was 2-3 in World Series starts and 11-14 overall in the postseason. Glavine was 4-3 in the World Series and 14-16 in all postseason performances.

I'm afraid reading this idiocy is actually making me dumber. Jerry Green needs to realize that more goes into a pitcher's Hall of Fame resume than how well he pitched in the postseason. Maddux and Glavine are better than Jack Morris in nearly every category when it comes to the larger sample size of the regular season.

Not to mention, if Jerry is going to cherry-pick statistics, I will do so as well. He is showing us wins and losses in the postseason and as I have said repeatedly wins and losses aren't exact measures of how well a pitcher pitched. Clearly Jerry disagrees. Check on the career postseason ERA of Maddux, Glavine, and Morris. Both Maddux and Glavine have a lower ERA than Jack Morris did in the postseason. So Jerry blindly and ignorantly throws out "wins and losses" as his ultimate measure of Morris' postseason superiority over Maddux and Glavine, but this could just be an example of Morris receiving more run support than Glavine and Maddux.

It doesn't matter if the numbers are spewed out by a new-styled Sabermetrics whiz or an old-fashioned codger as I am — winning trumps everything else.

Yes, winning trumps everything, but it doesn't tell you everything. Not to mention, if Jerry Green can only base Jack Morris' Hall of Fame candidacy on complete games and Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, without even mentioning his regular season statistics, then that tells me all I need to know about whether Morris deserves to be in the baseball Hall of Fame or not.


Skip Caray said...

Are you sure Jerry Green isn't a nom de plume for Murray Chass? This seems like your February 9th effort redux. I enjoyed reading about the famous Braves pitchers again, just kidding. I did like reading that Morris is actively campaigning for himself. Who does he think he is, Pete Rose? What a loser!

Anonymous said...

@BigCityJob . . . well done with the cherry picked stats as always but the choice section for me is your fabricated story. Never heard you go off on quite that path but I am relatively new. Point taken for sure and as always well written. The HOF should have a longer period before voting on induction. It's too early to be voting on Clemens or Bonds. The writers are a group of antiquated, old, drunks and they are not thinking clearly. Emotional situations like this need time to settle down. The whole process stinks from top to bottom anyway. From Ty Cobb on down there are some legendary bigots and drunks on those placards.
Real quick . . . how the hell is Bill Simmons qualified to judge Michel Jordan's legacy? ESPN is such trash. They should at least justify him as "pop culture analyst" or something. What a joke. Sorry I just changed it but he was about to speak on Michael Jordan. What a nightmare.
Loved the MMQB destruction this week as well. Even though you were nice to him. I hope he never returns from that island the asshole.

waffleboy said...

Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame because Jack Morris was a winner. As long as his team scored about 5 runs a game. Jesus I hate reading about baseball this time of year.
Just once I like to read the truth when some old guard baseball writer is shilling for a home town player to get a pass into the Hall of Fame. Something along the lines of [Fill in the Blank] should be in the Hall of Fame because
He routinely avoided referring to me in press conferences as "fuck nut"
He was my favorite player when I still had all my hair. God I miss my hair.
I know baseball. I watch the games I went to journalism school. I know how to use a semicolon. RBI's are real stats. LaLaLaLaLaLa!

This is just my opinion, but if a guy doesn't have at least one stat where you holy shit, then he doesn't get a plaque.

Eric C said...

Not for nothing, but he threw 126 pitches that game according to the Interwebs. It's not like he is Leon Cadore or Joe Oeschger here.

Bengoodfella said...

Skip, I am sure Jack Morris feels himself to be unlike Pete Rose. After all, Morris considers himself a Hall of Fame player who was clean his entire career, unlike Rose who bet on baseball.

Anon, I don't know if the HoF should have longer wait periods, but I do think the HoF electors have a lot of problems when it comes to inducting players from the Steroid Era. I also need to do more fake conversations. I enjoy doing them.

Waffle, I'd just like to think a player wouldn't get in the Hall of Fame based simply on one playoff game, cherry picked stats and a bunch of hyperbole. I think wrong apparently.

Eric, if I remember correctly the Braves weren't exactly making it incredibly difficult on him. He pitched a fantastic game of course, but I don't think this is the sole reason he should be in the Hall of Fame.