01/05/12 12:41 PM EST
Morris' body of work worthy of Hall inclusion
Time running out for BBWAA to reward deserving right-hander
By Hal Bodley / MLB.com
That said, it boggles my mind how they've dropped the ball so dramatically when it comes to Jack Morris.
Morris should have been elected years ago. Hopefully, this injustice will be corrected when results of the 2012 balloting are announced Monday.
That he has not received more support in previous years is a mystery to many voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
A year ago, Morris fell 125 votes short of the required 75 percent (436) of the 581 cast. Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven were elected, with Barry Larkin finishing third at 62.1 percent, 75 votes short.
Larkin, in just his second year on the ballot, has an excellent chance of making it this time.
But what about Morris?
His fourth-place finish in 2011 was encouraging. He's gaining more support, but this is his 13th year of the maximum 15 on the ballot, probably a do-or-die situation.
Time is running out.
That's because in the next two years, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling become eligible.
If not this time, Morris will get lost in the shuffle, with his only hope then being selection by the Veterans Committee down the road.
Critics say his 254 career victories and 3.90 ERA fall short of Hall of Fame standards.
Those critics should do their homework. Hall of Famers Whitey Ford (236), Catfish Hunter (224), Jim Bunning (224), Juan Marichal (243) and Don Drysdale (209) had fewer wins than Morris.
Morris was the dominant pitcher of the 1980s. He led that decade with 162 wins, 133 complete games, 332 starts and 2,443 2/3 innings. No other pitcher had more than 140 wins during that period.
Maybe too many of the voters are not old enough to have seen him pitch and are going strictly by the numbers. Before Blyleven made it, the BBWAA had not elected a starting pitcher since Nolan Ryan was chosen in 1999.
Few pitchers were as consistent or as valuable to their teams as Morris was. He was the staff ace and Game 1 starter for three World Series champions -- Tigers (1984), Twins ('91) and Blue Jays ('92). He pitched two complete games for the 1984 Tigers in their victory over San Diego.
Kirk Gibson, a Morris teammate when both were with the Tigers, says he's never seen a pitcher so determined, especially in the late innings.
"If you had a lead in the seventh inning and Morris was on the mound, it was a win," says Gibson, now the Arizona Diamondbacks' manager. "His intensity was incredible."
The late Sparky Anderson, who managed the Tigers, says Morris was the one pitcher he'd go to for a big game "and he never wanted to come out of a game. He was the last of a breed -- somebody who actually came to the park with anger to beat the other team."
Morris was the 1991 World Series MVP. Aside from Don Larsen's perfect game for the Yankees in 1956, I've never seen a more dominant World Series performance than his Game 7 masterpiece.
Morris won Game 1 over Atlanta's Charlie Leibrandt, but in Game 7, his 10-inning, 1-0 victory defined him.
It might be argued that one great game shouldn't make that much difference in Hall of Fame voting, but I believe that 1991 clincher proved how reliable Morris was.
He is the only pitcher with an extra-inning shutout in the deciding game of a World Series.
It's doubtful Hall of Famer Bill Mazeroski would have gotten the support he did had it not been for his walk-off home run for the Pirates against the Yankees in the 1960 World Series.
Granted, Morris did not win 300 games, the one-time Hall of Fame standard, and he never won a Cy Young Award. He did win 20 or more games three times and was consistently one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues.
As stated earlier, I do not think the lack of 300 victories should be a factor. That benchmark is going to be very difficult to achieve for virtually all pitchers in this era of bullpen-dominated games.
So we must wait until 3 p.m. ET on Monday to learn if Jack Morris finally -- and deservedly -- becomes a Hall of Famer.
One this is certain: No candidate linked to steroids should be considered. In that regard, the BBWAA will get it right.
Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.