He pitched well in a loss to the Brewers Friday, but Detroit's Jack Morris is 0-4 with an ERA of 5.64 and longtime Tiger observers think they know why: He's thinking too much.
They say that instead of relying on his still-superlative fastball to get batters out in key situations, he's been acting like a 34-year-old pitcher who has lost his speed and must use guile to defeat opponents.He has fanned 19 batters in 22 otherwise unnoteworthy innings, which indicates his pitches still have excellent movement. He gets hurt when he falls back on off-speed stuff, or when he throws the same pitch at the same speed to the same spot two or three consecutive times.
The suggestion has been made that Morris has gotten somewhat out of control since the end of his stormily successful relationship with catcher Lance Parrish, who refused to let the volatile Morris push him around. Morris apparently intimidates Mike Heath and the youthful Matt Nokes to the point where they let him throw whatever he wants, wherever he wants.
Of course, there is another statistic that could be significant. In the 22 innings Morris has pitched, his teammates have scored one run. And it may not be just coincidental that in the very inning he left a recent game, the Tigers scored twice.
Morris has long been famous for his muttering every time a grounder gets between infielders, or when a bloop hit falls between an infielder and outfielder. And with so many new players on the club, it may be that they aren't inclined to put up with him anymore.
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'80s TEAM: The Los Angeles Daily News recently named its baseball Team of the '80s, from among players who played in at least six of the nine years of the decade. Included on the team were Dale Murphy, center field, and Jack Morris, righthanded starter.
Of Murphy they wrote: "What Dale Murphy has accomplished in the '80s on such horrible teams is amazing. His 288 home runs are second only to Schmidt, and how he managed to drive in 845 runs with the likes of Terry Blocker ahead of him is unfathomable. Add to that his 878 runs scored, .303 average, back-to-back MVP awards ('82-83) and a few Gold Gloves, and it's clear that he is the best outfielder of the decade. Not bad for a former catcher."
And of Morris was written: "Morris' split-finger fastball has made him the winningest pitcher (156 victories) of the decade, as well as the owner of a no-hitter and a 2-0 World Series record. His 1,514 strikeouts and 3.57 ERA prove that when he's on, no one can touch his stuff."
Other members of the team: Eddie Murray, first base; Ryne Sandberg, second base; Ozzie Smith, shortstop; Mike Schmidt, third base; Gary Carter, catcher; Rickey Henderson, left field; Dave Winfield, right field; Don Baylor, designated hitter; Robin Yount, utility; Fernando Valenzuela, lefthanded starter; Dan Quisenberry, right-handed reliever; Dave Righetti, lefthanded reliever; and manager, Sparky Anderson.