Ken Gurnick’s Hall of Fame ballot is perhaps the laziest and most willfully ignorant ever

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Still reeling at Ken Gurnick’s Jack Morris and no one else ballot. But I’m not reeling at the idea of Jack Morris being a Hall of Famer (if you think he is, good for you; I’ve stopped yelling at people for doing that). I’m also not reeling at the idea of a “protest against PED-era players” vote. I think that’s dumb, but if you have such convictions, by all means, vote your convictions.

No, I’m reeling at how feckless and ignorant a protest vote Gurnick has actually cast. Really, people who are big fans of protest votes should be angry at Gurnick for making them look dumb.

Once again, here’s Gurnick’s rationale:

Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Players votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won’t vote for any of them.

Jack Morris played through 1994. His career overlapped with nine of Greg Maddux’s seasons, including three of his four Cy Young seasons. So that either means that Gurnick thinks Maddux actually used PEDs while Morris did not or he has zero grasp on the concept of eras or what “the period of PED use” actually was. He’s making a distinction between Morris and Maddux (and Glavine and every other player on the ballot) that is not grounded in any sort of sense at all.

I don’t know when the first player took steroids, but it was certainly before Jack Morris retired. Indeed, Jack Morris’ signature accomplishment — winning Game 7 of the World Series with a ten-inning shutout — came in 1991. By 1991 Barry Bonds had an MVP Award and Roger Clemens had three Cy Young Awards and an MVP. Jose Canseco had hit 209 homers, won an MVP award and had been booed for steroid use. Mark McGwire had hit 178 home runs. Indeed, the Bash Brothers only had 97 games left together when Morris won Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. Over half of Jack Morris’ wins came from Jose Canseco’s rookie year (1986) on.

That doesn’t mean Jack Morris did steroids, of course. But it does mean that no one who has a basic comprehension of time and simple logic can draw the kind of distinction between Jack Morris and the rest of the Hall of Fame ballot that Gurnick did. Because I assume Gurnick can read a calendar and because I’ve read his reporting and find it cogent, it can’t be that.

So what the hell is he doing here? Apart from just being near criminally lazy and flippant about a task that Hall of Fame voters like to tell us they take oh so very seriously?

Astros greeted with boos in first spring training game

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The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.

Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.

There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.

That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.

The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.

One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.

Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.

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