On July 26, 1977, Jack Morris took the hill for the very first time at Comiskey Park against the Chicago White Sox. The 22-year-old Morris pitched four innings of relief and gave up two hits and two earned runs while striking out three in his major league debut.
Little did the people of the windy city know, that day, they were witnessing the birth of a career that would compile the most wins by a pitcher in the 1980′s, become one of the best big game pitchers in baseball history, win four World Series titles, and lead the Tigers’ staff for 14 years.
Whether you watched him pitch countless games at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull or have read or seen film of Tigers legend Jack Morris, his name has been forever etched into the history of the Tigers.
Which leads people to ask a common question: how is Jack Morris not in the Hall of Fame?
A big knock on Morris is his career ERA, which is 3.90. If elected into the hall, he would posses the highest career ERA of anyone in the Hall of Fame. Morris’ inflated ERA is largely because of his last three years in the major leagues when he posted an ERA of 5.07 which inflated his career ERA from 3.71 to 3.90.
What really gets overlooked was the fact that Morris was an innings eater. Putting up 10 — including seven straight– 200 inning seasons, nearly getting to the 300 mark in 1983 when he pitched 293 innings. Morris also has five top five finishes in the Cy Young voting, not to mention his 254 wins and 2,478 strike outs.
The stats and career accomplishments are certainly there when looking at Morris’ 18 year career but the numbers alone may not be what finally gets this Tigers great into Cooperstown.
The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot is like the Kardashians. Annoying, it’s not going away anytime soon, and controversial. This years ballot features first time candidates such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Craig Biggio, and Sammy Sosa.
When you see names like Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa you think of one thing: Steroids. It’s sad, it really is. Having some of the greatest players to ever wear a uniform see their accomplishments and career accolades trumped by steroids and the public opinion of them. This, however, is what will help Morris finally get into the Hall of Fame.
Mark McGwire — an admitted steroid user — has been on the ballot since 2007 and has never come close to reaching the 75% mark of the vote needed to get enshrined in Cooperstown. Which means guys like Clemens and Bonds, who have huge steroid clouds floating over their heads, may not fair much better on their first time on the ballot. This opens the door for Morris.
Some writers refuse to vote for anyone that used PED’s. Meaning Morris — who only has one more year left of eligibility to get in — is the safe and easy way out pick. He finally gets in; writers don’t have to vote for anyone who may have used PED’s. So it’s a win-win for both sides. Now to think this is the only way Morris finally gets in is ludicrous. But it may be his best and only chance he has at finally getting into the Hall of Fame.
It’s a damn shame it has taken the writers 14 years to even get this close to voting Morris in and it took a controversial ballot to help push his case. But, it’s better than nothing and he may finally have his elusive Hall of Fame plaque that he has deserved for years now.
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