Jack Morris And The Hall Of Almost Good Enough

Posted on 16 January 2013 by Will Emerson

Jack Morris will be on his last Hall of Fame Ballot later this year, no matter what. I would say thank goodness, but regardless of the outcome, we are sure to still hear plenty about Morris, after the fact. Especially if he is not, and if the world is right he will not be, voted in. It will be his15th and final year on the ballot, which is sort of an accomplishment in itself. I mean to simply be on the Hall of Fame ballot is quite an honor. To be on the ballot for the maximum 15 years certainly says something about your career. While three quarters of the voters have never, in any year, thought you were a Hall of Famer, at least more than five percent did. Okay, now that I throw out that five percent number, I guess it is not as great of an accomplishment as I thought. I mean, somewhere between five and 74.99% is quite a large range. Nevertheless, that broad range of voters continue to think you belong enshrined in the hallowed halls, er Hall, in Cooperstown. That is quite a range, sure, but needless to say, there is something to that, right? Humor me and agree, otherwise this article loses a bit of it’s gravitas. At least I think it does. I am not entirely sure what gravitas means. Sounds good though, right? Alright, I feel like we may be getting a bit off the subject here. Point of the matter is Jack Morris has already accomplished something by not only making it onto a Hall of Fame ballot but staying on there for the maximum 15 years. The only greater accomplishment would be for Mr. Morris to actually be voted into the Hall next year, which I don’t think will happen.

JackMorris

You see, I don’t believe that Jack Morris belongs in the Hall of Fame, but that does not mean he will not get in. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, and despite several, yes several, strongly worded letters, I actually have no say in who gets into the Hall of Fame. Even if the writers do not vote Morris in I am sure some Veteran’s Comittee or whatever it will be called in the future, will probably induct him at some point. None of that, to me, means he belongs. Jack Morris, in my mind, is not a famed pitcher. Now, I know the literal term “fame” could lead to some gray area and semantical debates regarding who does and does not belong in Cooperstown. Fame is something that is not always associated with greatness (see Merkle, Fred) so it is not really the spirit of the Hall, per se. When it started, sure, “fame” worked better as the word to describe the best. It worked better back in the day, because many people only had box scores, newspaper articles and basically hearsay to judge a player. So, unless they were a player on your favorite team, most likely you would not see most players a ton. Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Nap Lajoie, Ty Cobb and the likes were known and known to be great. There was no internet, no ESPN, no MLB Network. Most of the out-of-town players you knew of were probably famous and in that day it also meant they were probably pretty darned good. But, regardless, since we are not renaming it the Hall of Awesomeness (which would be cool, but could also leave some room for interpretation) aytime soon, we all know what we are looking for. Greatness. Jack Morris was not the model of greatness when you look at his career as a whole. You coud argue he was not the model of greatness in many seasons, if you so desired. Morris, of course, was the model of greatness in Game Seven of the 1991 World Series, but over his career? Great? I don’t think so. Good, sure. Heck I’ll even give him a very good. Which is why I would have no problem if he were inducted into the currently non-existent Hall of Very Good.

The Hall of Very Good. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Not only does it have a nice ring to it, but it is the perfect place for Jack Morris, a model of very goodness. I know several writers and bloggers have laid out ideas for breaking down Hall of Fame inductees into several different, varying categories. With the upper echelon of players having their own separate place in the Hall. This way we could separate the Roger Bresnahans from the Yogi Berras and so forth and so on. But the Hall of Very Good would be its own entity. This would be a place outside of the Hall of Fame, perhaps in it’s shadows or up the road  a ways, somewhere in Oneonta, who knows? Wherever it may lay, it would be the place where you could put your Julio Francos, your Will Clarks, your Fred McGriffs and, of course your, Jack Morrises. Players who were perennial All-Stars and had very, very good careers, but who are just not quite Hall of Fame material. Maybe their peak was not quite impressive, or long, enough and this is what will keep them out of the Hall of Fame. But they were very good and that makes them possible first ballot Hall of Very Gooders.

Of course with the Hall of Very Good, you would still have debates over who belongs and who doesn’t. This is simply because, well, it is in our nature as baseball nerds, dorks, whatever nomenclature you prefer, to judge, evaluate and argue who was famed, who was very good, who was just good, who was maybe just plain overrated, etcetera, etcetera. Aaron Sele? Remember him? Aaron Sele, who somehow got that one tiny little Hall of Fame vote (since I know you are wondering, yes I will harp on this for quite some time) when many could argue he did not even belong on the ballot. I am sure he would get far, far  greater support and more votes on the Hall of Very Good ballot. I am not sure he gets in to the HoVG either. He could pull a Jack Morris and stay on the ballot for a great deal of time, I’d reckon, but ulitmately I am not sure if he even makes the HoVG either. But believe me, when they open that Hall of Above Average I am sure Aaron will have a much better shot. Not saying he gets in, but you have to like his odds a lot better for the HoAA, than for the HoVG or  for the HoF, right? And that bring us all the way back to Jack Morris? While he  may not get voted into the Hall of Fame next year and may not be a first ballot Hall of Very Gooder, he will definitely have a place in the HoVG, of that much I am sure.

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