Your ignorant Jack Morris quote of the day

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All of these now, it seems, come with required name-calling. But sure, it’s the anti-Jack Morris types who lack civility and all of that jazz.  This from Bill Madden:

I have no idea what Jack Morris’ career WAR is, any more than I have any idea what WAR itself is. I only know that the vigilante sabermetric brigade using all its advanced statistic formulas to contrive the case that Morris was somehow not a dominant No. 1 pitcher, probably never saw him pitch. I did, at least 40 times between postseasons and when Morris’ Tigers were in the American League East, and never once was he not the best pitcher in the game that day.

I love Madden’s use of the word “vigilante.” The definition of vigilante is a person who takes the law into their own hands and refuses to respect the established structures of power and justice. I don’t think he just threw that word out there as a lazy synonym for “obnoxious” or “hostile” or something. It clearly galls Madden that the Hall of Fame police force — the BBWAA — is being questioned, and he truly believes that non-BBWAA people making Hall of Fame assessments is akin to roving mobs and villagers with torches. Indeed,  think that motivates a great number of these reactionary takes. For years guys like Madden were considered authorities about something. While they still are authorities with respect to many things — they are in the clubhouse after all — player assessment is clearly not one of them. It’s probably pretty scary for them. Poor dears.

Anyway, to Morris. As a kid growing up going to games at Tiger Stadium and catching Morris on WDIV-TV several times a year, I saw Jack Morris pitch far more than the 40 times Madden did. I may have been young, but since Madden is admitting not to know what a pretty well-accepted metric is, I don’t think his current knowledge base and my seven year-old through 21 year-old knowledge bases were that different.

For the bulk of that time I was actually rooting for Morris, so if anyone was going to consider him “the best” on the days he pitched, it was going to be a kid like me. But even through I wore those kid fan glasses I did not believe he was always “the best pitcher in the game that day.” I know this because I saw him face Ron Guidry, Roger Clemens, Dave Stieb and Frank Viola. Or why he didn’t cover Tigers games when Dan Petry pitched, because Peaches was better than Morris for several years too. Maybe Madden was always sick those days? Hard to say.

In any event, the numbers for Morris are pretty simple. The only ones using numbers to “contrive” a case about Morris’ Hall of Fame candidacy are the people like Madden who must find a way to make him look like a Hall of Famer when the numbers really say he is not one.

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

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We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.