Comment of the Day: my Jack Morris bias is revealed

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A reader took issue with my “I wouldn’t vote for Jack Morris” comment in the Vinny Castilla post:

Your B.S. about Morris not deserving the hall because he gave up so many runs during his wins & that his most wins in the 80’s is an over inflated stat during a meaningless time period is ludacris. Just admit it’s because he blanked your Braves for 10 innings in the W.S.

Yes. That’s it. You got me. It feels so good to be exposed like this. I no longer have to live a lie.  I no longer have to pretend that:

  • Morris didn’t prevent the opposition from scoring runs at anything much greater than an average clip;
  • That he didn’t “pitch to the score” (or, if he tried to, he was not particularly successful at it);
  • That apart from one game in the 1991 World Series, he was nothing special as a playoff pitcher;
  • That despite his “best starter of the 80s” reputation, he was rarely thought of as special by Cy Young voters, who gave him the same number of Cy Young votes over his career as Mike Hampton and Dontrelle Willis.

No, I can admit that Jack Morris was the best pitcher of his generation and most others and that my hatred of him is based on something he did 20 years ago that caused my team pain.  It’s the same reason I’m against Kent Hrbek and Dan Gladden for the Hall of Fame too.  My bias and hatred for any player who performs well against the Atlanta Braves is long and enduring and finally — finally! — it can be brought into the light.

God, this is such a weight off my shoulders.

Replay review over base-keeping needs to go

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The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.

Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.

Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.

Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.