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

Jan 7, 2014, 12:06 PM EDT

jack morris-thumb-250x375-4861

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?

  1. skauffman49 - Jan 7, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    While Mr. Gurnick has the privilege of free speech and to vote his conscience, I find his lack depth to be appalling…but whether it’s the BBWAA or some other authority, the story will be the same…any group larger than, say 5, will not be able to be unanimous..

    Bottom line: He’s just a shallow dope…but we may not all agree on this…

    • km9000 - Jan 7, 2014 at 10:05 PM

      Key word is “privilege.”

      But Maddux not being unanimous isn’t because they disagree on his merits. It’s because of antiquated precedent.

      If Maddux or someone similarly obvious did get 100%, is someone out there really gonna say “You’re telling me he’s better than Babe Ruth?”

      Maybe they should put all plaques in order of vote % to illustrate how stupid that mentality is.

      • dinofrank60 - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:23 AM

        Yes, someone will say, “How come Maddox is unanimous, but Willie Mays wasn’t? Was he that much better than Mays?”
        The really terrible statement would be “Maddox must be better than Mays; he was unanimous!”

      • steveinphilly - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:12 AM

        Hey dinofrank60, we’re talking about Greg Maddux here, not Garry or Elliott Maddox. Neither of those guys will be unanimous either though.

  2. robb4242 - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    This is freaking pathetic. Ken Gurnick is a tool that should have his voting privileges revoked by the Hall of Fame. First of all, on what day did the steroid era start? Don’t know? Because nobody knows. Steroids have definitely been around longer than the time that Morris retired. Canseco admitted to using them in the 1980’s & the Tom Boswell article insinuated that the use of steroids was widespread in MLB. Congress passed the Anabolic Steroid Act in 1990 primarily because MLB wouldn’t do anything to clean up the game until they were forced to.

    So where does this leave us with the moron Gurnick? Well he won’t vote for a player who played in the steroid era, yet he just voted for Jack Morris who played when steroid use was both rampant & untested for by MLB. He had no qualms casting that vote. But honestly, from here on out who is Gurnick going to vote for? Will we have a lifetime of non-votes from him from now on? If so, why bother to let him vote again. REVOKE HIS VOTING PRIVILEGES!

    • jcsgonzo22 - Jan 8, 2014 at 3:46 PM

      35 Thumbs up and No thumbs down says it all. Most fans are sick of this type of reasoning. you can’t just ignore an entire era of the game. It’s total BS. I’m sure he was writing back in those days if he was so concerned he should’ve done something at the time. Now they want to make all these guys pay after the fact. it’s too late, just go by the numbers – because it’s the fairest way to do it. Unless someone admits to how do we know who did what, all we can do is what we have been doing which is assuming, and that’s really not fair. Guilt should have to be proven, not assumed. MLB is just as much to blame for this mess as the players. If you ask me Selig never really had to answer for all the BS that went on under his time running the league.

  3. jdillydawg - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:11 AM

    Seems to me Gurnick just represents the stupidity of the whole HOF ballot system anyway. What if Gurnick is the cream of the crop of all the voters and this article is simply being written so that everyone else who casts votes isn’t exposed for what they really are?!

    Which is what, I’m not exactly sure, but I like the conspiracy direction my line of thought is taking me…

    But I digress. I would have thought him a hero if he had written Pete Rose in instead. Now THAT woulda been funny.

  4. braxtonrob - Jan 8, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    I suddenly have this devlish-desire for Jack Morris to announce he did a few steroids once. LOL

  5. steveinphilly - Jan 8, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    I just wrote to MLB.com the following (and I hope they bring it up when they next discuss the continuing presence of the moron Gurnick on their site):

    I am concerned about the intelligence and work ethic of your writer Ken Gurnick. See this story: http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/01/07/ken-gurnicks-hall-of-fame-ballot-is-perhaps-the-laziest-and-most-willfully-ignorant-ever/

    Gurnick actually wrote: “As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won’t vote for any of them.”

    I cannot take him seriously as a baseball writer anymore. If he is so lazy as to not be willing to try to find out which players may have used PEDs and which did not, and so he would tar and feather _everyone_ in the last 25 years (and who knows how far into the future), then I don’t trust that he is actually doing any research to write his stories either. I hope other MLB.com writers are not so lazy.

  6. myopinionisrighterthanyours - Jan 8, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    I could not believe this when I heard it. What a freaking joke. So everybody’s guilty by association now? And what is his definition of the “period of PED use?” Whatever it is, I can guarantee it is wrong. The BBWAA either needs to change its selection process, or start striping clowns like this of the right to vote.

  7. snarkk - Jan 8, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    This Gurnick guy’s stance makes as much sense, which is none, as the other writers using PEDs use as a gatekeeper to the HOF. Many of these writers KNEW guys were using ‘roids, but did nothing, wrote nothing, asked no questions. They aided and abetted the steroid “era”, which I believe is still clearly ongoing, but nobody knows when it started. The level of hypocrisy of this morality play by many of the BBWAA is staggering. Take the HOF vote away from the BBWAA. Now. It’s membership has abdicated the privilege of voting through it’s idiotic approach to this. The HOF itself could easily take away the writers’ vote, it is not etched in stone anywhere. The writers got this privilege long ago because they were the ones guaranteed to see the games and the players — long before TV, long before modern times where every game and every player can be seen live or on replay. The time has come for a new HOF paradigm. It’s broken…

  8. jcsgonzo22 - Jan 8, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    Lou Whitaker only hit over .300 twice in all the years he played. He was a very solid player but not an elite HOF player. I think if he was going to have a legitimate shot at the HOF he had to hit .300 plus for his career. A .276 career average is very good, but not exactly great. IMO he didn’t quite do enough to make the Hall. If you don’t hit .300 in your career you should hit some other bench mark number like 3,000 hits, or 500 HR, he wasn’t a power hitter, or a great run producer. Maybe if he was a perennial gold glover I would say yes but 3 in 19 seasons is very good, not great. The HOF is for great players, unfortunately for Sweet Lou he was a very good player, but he wasn’t HOF caliber.

    • braxtonrob - Jan 8, 2014 at 6:42 PM

      Who was the best 2B’man in the AL from the 80’s (that’s an entire decade BTW)?
      You can’t have 133 years of baseball and only have 20 2B’men in the Hall – that’s inconsiderate.

      GG’s are nice but not very representative of true ability; I don’t think your giving enough credit to Whitaker’s glove and range, both above average and collectively way above average.
      True, he only had 2300 Hits, 400 2B’s, 200 HR’s, but he was a 2B’man,
      Plus, he walked more than he struckout (an unappreciated signifcant asset).

      Ryne Sandberg represents the NL from the 80’s.

      I agree that Whitaker is borderline, but for my HOF, I have a full roster for each decade (for each league).

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