How Jack Morris came to be known as the best pitcher of the 1980s

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Larry Granillo of Wezen-Ball fame writes for The Hardball Times now. Two great things that go great together.  Today lar has a great post up in which traces the history of the “Jack Morris was the best pitcher of the 80s” meme.  Given that, at the time, most people when asked would have said that Steve Carlton or Doc Gooden or Roger Clemens was the best of the 80s, I had figured someone came up with that once Morris started appearing on Hall of Fame ballots.

Nope, it started in the 1986-87 offseason, when the owners were shamefully colluding against Morris and other free agents:

Looking through newspaper reports from the late-1980s, the discussion of Morris as the “pitcher of the ‘80s” or “the decade’s best pitcher” seemed to begin in earnest in the winter following the 1986 season. Morris was a free-agent that year and, as of mid-December, had broken off the arbitration process with the Tigers in favor of four other clubs (the Angels, Yankees, Twins, and Phillies). The offers did not come in and, as the dreaded “c-word” came into play, writers were left trying to figure out what was happening.

lar then cites a number of newspaper articles from the time in which the meme begins to take hold.

Interesting stuff, as almost everything lar does is interesting.  Well worth your time today.

Ken Giles: ‘I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston’

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Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”

Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”

Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.