Jon Heyman has been a Jack Morris supporter for a long time. And that’s fine. He’s in the majority — the two-thirds majority as of yesterday — in believing that Morris is a Hall of Famer. But he tweeted this a few minutes ago and it rather irks me:
Look, if you like Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame, that’s great. I personally wouldn’t support him, but there are a lot of guys who are in the Hall because of actual fame and presence and things other than the stats and I’m not going to get bent out of shape if Jack Morris makes the Hall of Fame next year. I liked him when I was a kid. I have a weird fetish for reliable, above-average workhorses. I won’t lose any sleep if Morris makes the Hall of Fame.
But let’s leave the “I saw him pitch” appeal to authority out of this. Sure, lots of guys saw him pitch. But they also seem to have completely forgotten or misconstrued what they saw, because the cases that are made for his candidacy often bear no relation whatsoever to his merits as a pitcher. He didn’t “pitch to the score.” He wasn’t, objectively speaking, the best pitcher of the 1980s. His one otherwordly playoff performance was not part of an overall fabulous playoff track record. He was good. Very, very good at times and that may make him a Hall of Famer.
But I can say this much with certainty: the “stat gurus” who are assessing Morris’ career are at least dealing in the world of fact. Not legend. And if the Morris supporters want us to respect their views on his Hall of Fame worthiness, it seems only appropriate that they respect the views of those who think differently about things and not disparage the anti-Morris vote as if they were the members of some cult.
Especially given that it takes far more, oh, let’s just call it “magical thinking” to believe that Morris was as good as guys like Heyman say he was than it takes to believe that his statistics compare unfavorably to other Hall of Fame pitchers.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.