Everybody hate on Bob!

>> Wednesday

Let me just admit up front that this is the single most unnecessarily mean-spirited post I've ever written. As if ripping on the work and opinions of columnists and other bloggers isn't crass enough, the entire purpose of this post is to rip on some random guy who commented on Keith Law's blog.

Ok, before you think I'm a total asshole, understand this. I have nothing against Bob. He seems like he's a really nice, civil guy, as you'll see. In fact, I wish a lot of the people who rebutted him weren't so harsh because he clearly meant well--just trying to speak up for a favorite player's Hall of Fame candidacy. And I also credit him for having an open mind and a thirst for knowledge, as you will also see.

However, I think his words need to be shared so that we all might see a little bit of ourselves in Bob and ask, "What in my own life do I approach with so much bias that I feed myself borderline-comical rationalizations to reinforce what I want to believe?" Bob, though not a BBWAA member and therefore unable to vote for the Hall of Fame, serves as a fairly representatve example of the warped thinking that consumes the minds of many HOF voters.

If you don't feel like reading all this, here's a really exaggerated and unfair rehash of his arguments:

  • Jack Morris's performance in a few memorable postseason starts trump the hundreds of other starts in his career.
  • Tiger Stadium was, and always has been, the only park where hitters have an advantage over the pitchers. No wait--there and Fenway.
  • Jack Morris pitched in Fenway way more than any other visiting pitcher, ever.
  • Tiger Stadium's fences stood 200 feet from home plate in the corners, 225 in the alleys, and 275 in straightaway center.
  • It always rains on my birthday and never on anyone else's.
  • Any pitcher with a career ERA below 4.50 deserves Hall of Fame consideration.
  • Bob hopes to rectify his biases by reading some fact-based baseball literature in the near future.
Bob, in his own words:

Just wondering in what category(ies) you reject [Jack] Morris on. Is it wins, (254) E.R.A. 3.90 mostly because of Tiger Stadium, or world series rings which amounted to a paltry 3. Being dead serious, I have never understood his rejection.

Still going to pursue the cause for Morris. I thought baseball recently classified a quality start as 6 innings with 3 earned runs or fewer. That equals an era of 4.5 which he clearly bettered. Moreover he pitched in the A.L. his entire career, thus contending against the D.H. The minute he went against the N.L, well, game 7 of 1991 comes to mind… At the very least I am inspired to do more research. While perhaps his league ERA was 3.9 some of those games came at Fenway, another hitters parsdise. And after re-reading your chat today, you mention that strikeouts are all due to the pitcher as opposed to his defense. I agree, and discovered that he has more strikeouts than Tommy John, who you classify as just short. Clearly not trying to belittle Tommy John, just trying to augment my support for Morris. And I apologize if I am turning this into a Jack Morris thread. Thanks.

John, I find it interesting that you do not want Dawson “slammed” for his OBP, yet are no doubt fixated on the ERA of Morris. I choose to look at 3 teams, 3 rings. I consider pitching in the A.L with its dh. I consider the bandboxes of Tiger Stadium and Fenway Park. And I consider articles written by Gammons, Stark and Bill Simmons who want him enshirned. But at the very least, please distinguish me from Woody Paige. I am not advocating Concepcion. And if you are not fixated on his ERA, what are your counter-arguments?

John, Shawn,& Keith, thank you for your insightful comments/responses. And just to clarify, I wasn’t trying to insult Dawson. I also would prefer to ignore the fact that Morris gave up so many home runs. That was a by-product of Tiger Stadium. While I do note that wins are a function of teams, I also note that the 3 teams he played for all sipped champagne in October. And if we are to believe that october matters, lets review his 1984 post-season. 3 games started, 26 innings pitched and only 5 earned runs. Well above average when it counted. I do acknowledge his ERA is high, but in my ( demented) mind, his post-season heroics dwarf that tidbit. I also note that he has more k’s than Jim Palmer and Tommy John. He also had 175 complete games, a sizeable amount when you realize that Sparky Anderson ( Captain Hook) was his manager for most of his career. I think some people in this group are holding the fact that he played with good teams against him. He carried his teammates on his back, not the other way around. But this fact bears being mentioned again. 1984: 3 starts, 26 innings, 5 earned runs. At the very least, that is better than ” pretty average across the board.” And thank you guys for letting me use this forum to rant. Keith, great website.

Herb, I have heard and read the arguments about the unworthiness of Morris. I have chosen not to be swayed by them. Again Gammons, Stark and Simmons all support him. And he does get over the 5% needed to stick around. Perhaps I am a fan of George Orwell and 1984 sticks with me.

Eric, thanks for the free research. My objection to the 6 inning 4.5 ERA is that that stat clearly does not factor in stadium and line-up issues. I am new to the sabernomics math, and probably will never understand it. I know Keith has mentioned ERA+ a few times, but I am not sure how they figure it out. Although, I am sure there is a formula. I do know, however, that in 1990 as a 12 year old kid, Prince Fielder was hitting home runs in Tiger Stadium. While I grant you Prince is a special talent, that also speaks volumes as to the size of Tiger Stadium. This is what Morris had to contend with. Brutal for pitchers. There also appears to be an interesting disconnect between the writers in this group and the Hall writers regarding Alan Trammell. Playing his whole career in Tiger Stadium, he averaged .285 and belted 185 homers. That does not resonate with me, regardless of how well he played the field. Much more impressed with Morris than Trammell. In this group I am in the minority, yet Morris gets more support from the actual voters. Again I apologize for my ignorance regarding sabernomics. But I would like to ask one more question, although a response is not neccessary. Game 7 of the world series, what pitcher do you want on the mound? In my humble mind its either Beckett or Jack Morris. Thank you .

Ronaldo and Dan, thanks for the feedback. To answer the last question first, clearly there should be no quotas for the Hall-of-Fame. I also wasn’t intending to cherry-pick stats for Morris, just trying to shore up some support for him. (Clearly not working) I guess my defense of him has always been ( and always wiii be) predicated on his Octobers, and not his Mays. One last favor from you guys if possible. Could you recommend a book that deals with sabernomics. I would prefer a book to a publication as I subscibe to BA and ESPN as it is. Our opinions notwithstanding, I have enjoyedd the back-and-forth.

Dan and Kyle, thank you very much for the tips. Sad commentary about myself that I have not read Bill James. Will recify it.

See? Bob's not a bad guy. He's all about self-improvement, and I respect that.

Now why can't the BBWAA writers be like Bob?


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