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.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts continues to cry poor

Tom Ricketts
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
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MLB owners and the MLB Players Association continue to hash out details, some in public, about a 2020 baseball season. The owners have been suggesting a shorter season, claiming that they lose money on every game played without fans in attendance. The union wants a longer season, since players are — as per the March agreement — being paid a prorated salary. Players thus make more money over the 114 games the MLBPA suggested than the 50 or so the owners want.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has been among the more vocal owners in recent weeks, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of MLB has greatly hurt MLB owners’ business. Speaking to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Ricketts claimed, “The scale of losses across the league is biblical.”

Ricketts said, “Here’s something I hope baseball fans understand. Most baseball owners don’t take money out of their team. They raise all the revenue they can from tickets and media rights, and they take out their expenses, and they give all the money left to their GM to spend.” Ricketts continued, “The league itself does not make a lot of cash. I think there is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out and it’s all sitting in a pile we’ve collected over the years. Well, it isn’t. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole.”

Pertaining to Ricketts’ claim that “the league itself does not make a lot of cash,” Forbes reported in December that, for the 17th consecutive season, MLB set a new revenue record, this time at $10.7 billion. In accounting, revenues are calculated before factoring in expenses, but unless the league has $10 billion in expenses, I cannot think of a way in which Ricketts’ statement can be true.

MLB owners notably don’t open their accounting books to the public. Because the owners were crying poor during negotiations, the MLBPA asked them to provide proof of financial distress. The owners haven’t provided those documents. Thus, unless Ricketts opens his books, his claim can be proven neither true nor false, and should be taken with the largest of salt grains. If owners really are hurting as badly as they say they are, they should be more than willing to prove it. That they don’t readily provide that proof suggests they are being misleading.

It’s worth noting that the Ricketts family has a history of not being forthcoming about their money. Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts got into hot water last year after it was found he had used inaccurate information when paying property taxes. In 2007, he bought two properties and demolished both, building a new, state-of-the-art house. For years, Ricketts used information pertaining to the older, demolished property rather than the current property, which drastically lowered his property taxes. Based on the adjustment, Ricketts’ property taxes increased from $828,000 to $1.96 million for 2019, according to The Chicago Tribune. Ricketts also had to pay back taxes for the previous three years.

At any rate, the owners want to pass off the financial risk of doing business onto their labor force. As we have noted here countless times, there is inherent risk in doing business. Owning a Major League Baseball team has, for decades, been nearly risk-free, which has benefited both the owners and, to a lesser extent, its workforce. The pandemic has thrown a wrench into everybody’s plans, but the financial losses these last three months are part of the risk. Furthermore, when teams have done much better business than expected, the owners haven’t benevolently spread that wealth out to their players, so why should the players forfeit even more of their pay than they already are when times are tough?