Jon Heyman has been a Jack Morris supporter for a long time. And that’s fine. He’s in the majority — the two-thirds majority as of yesterday — in believing that Morris is a Hall of Famer. But he tweeted this a few minutes ago and it rather irks me:
Look, if you like Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame, that’s great. I personally wouldn’t support him, but there are a lot of guys who are in the Hall because of actual fame and presence and things other than the stats and I’m not going to get bent out of shape if Jack Morris makes the Hall of Fame next year. I liked him when I was a kid. I have a weird fetish for reliable, above-average workhorses. I won’t lose any sleep if Morris makes the Hall of Fame.
But let’s leave the “I saw him pitch” appeal to authority out of this. Sure, lots of guys saw him pitch. But they also seem to have completely forgotten or misconstrued what they saw, because the cases that are made for his candidacy often bear no relation whatsoever to his merits as a pitcher. He didn’t “pitch to the score.” He wasn’t, objectively speaking, the best pitcher of the 1980s. His one otherwordly playoff performance was not part of an overall fabulous playoff track record. He was good. Very, very good at times and that may make him a Hall of Famer.
But I can say this much with certainty: the “stat gurus” who are assessing Morris’ career are at least dealing in the world of fact. Not legend. And if the Morris supporters want us to respect their views on his Hall of Fame worthiness, it seems only appropriate that they respect the views of those who think differently about things and not disparage the anti-Morris vote as if they were the members of some cult.
Especially given that it takes far more, oh, let’s just call it “magical thinking” to believe that Morris was as good as guys like Heyman say he was than it takes to believe that his statistics compare unfavorably to other Hall of Fame pitchers.