I know you all are tied of Jack Morris stuff. The arguments and all of that. But I implore you — strongly — to make room in your day for this Baseball Prospectus post from John Bernhardt. It’s long — like, really long — but it’s worth it. It’s worth it for two reasons.
First, as a piece of analysis it’s definitive. John looks fairly at both the traditionalist arguments for Morris and the sabermetric arguments against him. Rather than join the argument in the middle as so many of us do now because of their familiarity and in the interests of time, John takes it all as a whole as though approaching it for the first time. This makes it the perfect piece to send to your friends who haven’t thought as much about it all as you have.
The second, and I would argue, more important reason: it’s just a beautiful piece of prose. While John’s leanings regarding the merits of Morris are clear, he does not throw numbers at you all willy-nilly as has become the style in some sabermetric-leaning circles. He tells a story. An entertaining one and a convincing one. And it’s good reading even if you don’t much like the substance. Indeed, there is a long portion of it analyzing Lonnie Smith’s base running blunder in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series that I greatly enjoyed even though it broke down one of the most excruciating plays in my baseball-watching life in excruciating detail. Good writing can make you endure almost anything, and John’s writing is that good.
Eventually, John winds up here:
Whatever the reason, Morris is now a test case to see if a candidate with a strong enough narrative, no matter how groundless, imaginary, or overblown it might be, can make the Hall simply because his supporters repeated it so often and so loudly that one morning the world woke up and found it was true.
I can’t dispute any of that. And even those who may want to dispute it will be better for having read John’s piece before doing so.