Jack Morris Was the Real Winner of the Roger Clemens Verdict

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IJune 23, 2012

7 Aug 1991: Pitcher Jack Morris of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Roger Clemens trial is over. The ripple effect of the verdict will be felt for a long time and will become relevant in January.

Roger Clemens was found not guilty of perjury the other day. He was not found not guilty of taking steroids or HGH or anything else that his friends, wife and trainer all admit to using or selling. The fact that everyone excluding his dog all took the stuff is clearly a coincidence and does not involve the alpha male of the group whose body changed.

So now writers are wringing their hands, talking about the legal questions and the loss of our innocence. The most common headline claimed the trial had no winner.

Nonsense. The real winner was Jack Morris. That's right, the former Tigers ace and one time contemporary of Clemens will be the beneficiary of the whole Clemens mess.

Morris will be on his 14th Hall of Fame ballot this offseason. He has just two more chances to be elected into Cooperstown. And not since Clemens' former teammate Jim Rice has there been a more polarizing candidate.

His supporters point to the fact that he won more games in the 1980s than any other pitcher and he came up big in big games. He threw a no-hitter, was the World Series MVP in 1991 and had a 10 inning game seven shutout that year that clinched the title.

His detractors point out that he was never the best pitcher in any one year. He may have compiled wins over the decade, but was never a dominating pitcher like Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela, Dave Stewart, Orel Hershiser or Frank Viola. He never was even the Cy Young runner-up. His ERA was too high and new stats point out that he may not have been as good as he seemed to be.

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  Pitcher Jack Morris #47 of the Toronto Blue Jays on the mound during the game against the Oakland A's on July 26, 1992 at Oakland Alameda County Stadium in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

But as far as anyone knows, Jack Morris was clean. And even those who do not support his Hall of Fame candidacy admit that he was a tough competitor who played the game the right way.

In the last Hall of Fame election, Morris got 66.7 percent of the vote, just shy of the 75 percent needed for induction.

This offseason, the Cooperstown ballot from hell will be distributed. Sammy Sosa will be on it for the first time. Returning candidates like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro are back.

And, fairly or not, sluggers like the returning Jeff Bagwell and the new arrival Mike Piazza will have their power numbers scrutinized strongly.

But the biggest new names will be Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Both would normally be no-brainers. But there is no way either will get in on the first ballot.

Craig Biggio and his 3,060 hits will likely get voted in on the first try. And Piazza will probably join him. But the other spots on the ballot might have room for a protest vote.

The final 8.3 percent of the vote that Jack Morris needs to become a Hall of Famer could come from writers fed up with Roger Clemens.

Benefiting from someone else's resentment may be a strange way to achieve immortality. But at this point, Jack Morris will no doubt accept it.


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