All of these now, it seems, come with required name-calling. But sure, it’s the anti-Jack Morris types who lack civility and all of that jazz. This from Bill Madden:
I have no idea what Jack Morris’ career WAR is, any more than I have any idea what WAR itself is. I only know that the vigilante sabermetric brigade using all its advanced statistic formulas to contrive the case that Morris was somehow not a dominant No. 1 pitcher, probably never saw him pitch. I did, at least 40 times between postseasons and when Morris’ Tigers were in the American League East, and never once was he not the best pitcher in the game that day.
I love Madden’s use of the word “vigilante.” The definition of vigilante is a person who takes the law into their own hands and refuses to respect the established structures of power and justice. I don’t think he just threw that word out there as a lazy synonym for “obnoxious” or “hostile” or something. It clearly galls Madden that the Hall of Fame police force — the BBWAA — is being questioned, and he truly believes that non-BBWAA people making Hall of Fame assessments is akin to roving mobs and villagers with torches. Indeed, think that motivates a great number of these reactionary takes. For years guys like Madden were considered authorities about something. While they still are authorities with respect to many things — they are in the clubhouse after all — player assessment is clearly not one of them. It’s probably pretty scary for them. Poor dears.
Anyway, to Morris. As a kid growing up going to games at Tiger Stadium and catching Morris on WDIV-TV several times a year, I saw Jack Morris pitch far more than the 40 times Madden did. I may have been young, but since Madden is admitting not to know what a pretty well-accepted metric is, I don’t think his current knowledge base and my seven year-old through 21 year-old knowledge bases were that different.
For the bulk of that time I was actually rooting for Morris, so if anyone was going to consider him “the best” on the days he pitched, it was going to be a kid like me. But even through I wore those kid fan glasses I did not believe he was always “the best pitcher in the game that day.” I know this because I saw him face Ron Guidry, Roger Clemens, Dave Stieb and Frank Viola. Or why he didn’t cover Tigers games when Dan Petry pitched, because Peaches was better than Morris for several years too. Maybe Madden was always sick those days? Hard to say.
In any event, the numbers for Morris are pretty simple. The only ones using numbers to “contrive” a case about Morris’ Hall of Fame candidacy are the people like Madden who must find a way to make him look like a Hall of Famer when the numbers really say he is not one.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.