In my latest post over at The Hardball Times, I go back to the 1980s to try and find out when the narrative of Jack Morris as “the pitcher of ’80s” came into being:
His supporters like to appeal to the prevailing wisdom of the era in which he pitched, so one must wonder when exactly in his career he adopted that level of reverence. The safe bet would have Morris gaining the mantle of the “Pitcher of the ‘80s” after the 1989 season, once the competition was over and the title was securely his. Others more cynical might expect the “Pitcher of the ‘80s” talk to have begun after Morris completed his other big claim to fame, the 10-inning shutout of the Atlanta Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. A more literal fan might think of the title having been granted to Morris following the 1985 season, when he took the “most wins of the 1980s” crown away from Steve Carlton.
It turns out the narrative really began years earlier, in the winter following the 1986 season. That was the year that Morris reached free agency but no one made him any offers thanks to the rampant collusion that year. Head on over to The Hardball Times to read how all of this tied together to put Jack Morris on the brink of the Hall of Fame twenty-five years later.