For the 14th time, Jack Morris' Hall of Fame bid fell short. He received 67.7 percent of the vote on this most recent ballot, up from 66.7 percent in 2012. 2014 will be his 15th and final chance to be elected by the writers and his chances will be much slimmer than his his high percentage would suggest.
Morris has his many supporters. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is one of his most passionate backers. The Sabermetrics crowd, led by Keith Law of ESPN.com, are quick to point out where his candidacy falls short.
But his best shot to get elected into Cooperstown by the Baseball Writers Association of America may have come and gone with the 2013 election.
Morris has not thrown a pitch in the majors since the 1994 strike. There have been nearly two decades of analyzing and dissecting his numbers. There have years of breaking down his relatively high ERA, seeing how he pitched to the score, debating the value of his post seasons and innings.
The high likelihood of Morris not being elected in 2014 has nothing to do with a change in heart from either side of the debate. People's minds seem to be set.
The crowded ballot of 2014 will most likely drown out the sound of Morris' supporters and he will probably fall just short.
Several writers turned in blank protest ballots for the 2013 vote, including Howard Bryant of ESPN.com. The backlash of blank ballots and a Hall of Fame ceremony with no new living members has already begun, starting with Michael Weiner of the Players Association who called the vote "unfortunate, if not sad." (via CBSSports.com).
The protest has been made and heard, and the likes of Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza were shut out along with Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and other PED figures.
Biggio and Piazza are all but guaranteed to make the Hall of Fame in 2014.
2014 will also be the first year for Greg Maddux on the ballot. Even the most hard-hearted voter will put Maddux in. His teammate Tom Glavine will also be on the ballot for the first time. The great Atlanta tandem will get added support because they played in an era of steroids.
Mike Mussina will also be on the ballot. His career may not have been as celebrated as Maddux and Glavine's but he was superb over two different decades.
More voters will scrutinize the merits of Curt Schilling, who in his best years was one of the elite pitchers in the game and was a postseason hero for three franchises.
The worst thing that could ever happen to Jack Morris' Cooperstown push is to be compared to the likes of Glavine, Mussina and Schilling. And having Maddux's glorious numbers fresh in voters' memories will degrade Morris even further.
Frank Thomas will make his debut as a Hall of Fame candidate. While he might be a victim to PED era prejudice, he has not been linked to any scandal and will undoubtedly get a lot of support.
Jeff Kent, another new name, will have supporters and detractors but will certainly capture at least 30 percent of ballots on his first try.
Other candidates like Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Lee Smith and Fred McGriff will have their careers reviewed with 20 percent of the vote supporting some combination.
That is before anyone considers any additional support that Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens might get after a year of a protest vote.
A conservative estimate has four players elected in in 2014: Biggio, Glavine, Maddux and Piazza. Adding Mussina and Thomas would not be a stretch.
A Hall of Fame class of six would mean that 75 percent of the ballots would only have four slots other than those six. And the combination of the above names and a smattering of votes for Luis Gonzalez and Moises Alou and stray odd votes like the four who voted for Steve Finley will begin to add up against Morris.
People have used numbers against Morris in his bid for the Hall of Fame for years now. Well, mathematics might keep him off the 2014 ballot.
After 15 years, there just might not be enough room for him—even if he does have a voter's support.
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