It’s Joe Posnanski’s post, and it’s a good one. Yes, he goes over a lot of the old Jack Morris territory, but he also has some stuff in there which explains why we go over this territory so damn often.
After observing, as many have, that Jack Morris got a lot of run support and thus had a lot of good fortune in games where he gave up a lot of runs, Posnanski gets to what I feel is the heart of the “Jack Morris was awesome and pitched to the score” religion:
Our first instinct, it seems to me, should be to think: Jack Morris was a lucky guy.
But that’s not an especially interesting or happy conclusion. Nobody ever really likes giving too much credit to luck. When people come back from Vegas with more money than they started, you might hear them say, “Yeah, I got lucky.” But then you’ll probably also hear about their brilliant blackjack maneuvering or the way they manipulated a poker pot or their roulette system or something else because, in the end, it’s hard for any of us to believe that it’s ever really all luck. We do desperately want to believe we have some control over things.
This doesn’t just apply to Morris. It applies to any number of evidence-free conclusions people make about baseball. This guy or that guy being a “competitor” or a “leader.” Someone else being “clutch” when nothing in the data suggests that he actually was.
But it even goes beyond baseball. There isn’t an aspect of life which isn’t touched by this. An instance where something either simple or, alternatively, something which is apparently inexplicable, doesn’t make people want there to be a more complicated or more satisfying explanation. One that, preferably, puts themselves or their heroes in a better light. One which makes them significant or important.
Jack Morris couldn’t have just been lucky, because he was awesome. Jack Kennedy couldn’t have been killed by a lone gunman because he was inspirational. People like me aren’t wealthier and healthier than people different from me because the world is capricious, because we are special and chosen.
Such thinking is eminently understandable because we are human beings and human beings, for all of our intelligence and reason, are capable of great irrationality. And such thinking almost always obscures what’s actually friggin’ going on.