Jack Morris

Lou Whitaker does not endorse former teammate Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame

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Former Tiger Jack Morris is up for election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his 15th and final year. Morris has made a surge in popularity among voters in the Baseball Writers Association of America, and as a result, has become a proxy in the ongoing debates between fans of traditional baseball statistics and fans of Sabermetrics.

Lou Whitaker, who played second base behind Morris on the Tigers from 1977 to 1990 (and is not a known Saberist), doesn’t think the right-hander is Hall of Fame-worthy, at least not ahead of himself and shortstop Alan Trammell, per Tony Paul of The Detroit News.

“Jack Morris was no better than Alan Trammell-Lou Whitaker,” Whitaker said during the interview, audio of which was posted on DetroitSportsRag.com and confirmed by MLB Network Radio co-host Jim Bowden. “If we didn’t make the plays, and we didn’t come up with the big hits, Jack Morris wouldn’t be where he was, or where he is.”

[…]

“If Jack deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, Alan Trammell deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” said Whitaker […]

Whitaker received only 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001, knocking him off the ballot for good after just one year. Trammell is in his 13th year on the ballot, but has never exceeded 36.8 percent. Morris got 67.7 percent last year, just shy of the 75 percent threshold.

According to Baseball Reference, Whitaker’s career 74.8 WAR would be the fifth-highest among Hall of Fame second basemen (min. 75% games at 2B), behind Eddie Collins, Joe Morgan, Nap Lajoie, and Charlie Gehringer.

Trammell’s 70.3 career WAR would tie for the sixth-most among Hall of Fame shortstops (min. 75% games at SS), behind Honus Wagner, Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith, Luke Appling, and Arky Vaughan, and tied with Barry Larkin.

Morris, at 43.8 career WAR, would rank 37th among 46 Hall of Fame starting pitchers (min.75% games started). The only pitchers he would best that did not pitch in the Dead Ball Era are Lefty Gomez, Bob Lemon, and Catfish Hunter.

Whitaker has a point.

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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Associated Press
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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.

Jeremy Jeffress will enter rehab after Friday’s DWI arrest

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 23:  Jeremy Jeffress #23 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the seventh inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 23, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Texas 3-0.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Rangers reliever Jeremy Jeffress was arrested on Friday for driving while intoxicated (DWI). According to a report from WFAA-TV in Dallas, Jeffress changed lanes without signaling and almost hit a car. While he was undergoing sobriety tests, he could not keep his balance or stand on one leg. His blood-alcohol content registered at .115.

Major League Baseball has opted not to suspend Jeffress as he has voluntarily chosen to check into an inpatient rehabilitation clinic, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports. He’s expected to spend about a month at the clinic, which is based in Houston. There is still a possibility Jeffress can rejoin the Rangers in time for the postseason.

Jeffress issued a statement, which Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provided:

This is not the first time Jeffress has had trouble with substance abuse. He was suspended 50 games in 2007 after testing positive for a second time for a drug of abuse, which was marijuana. He tested positive again in June 2009 and was suspended 100 games. It was later revealed that Jeffress suffers from juvenile epilepsy and he was self-medicating with marijuana.

Hopefully, his time in rehab helps him recover from substance abuse. Substance abuse is an issue about which people have a shortage of empathy, especially when it comes to celebrities, including athletes.

The Rangers acquired Jeffress along with catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Brewers at the August 1 trade deadline. They sent prospects Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and a player to be named to Milwaukee. In nine appearances with the Rangers, Jeffress has a 4.00 ERA and a 6/5 K/BB ratio.