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  Sun, July 25, 2004


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Getting Jack-ed around
Despite his mean nature, Morris deserves to be in the Hall of Fame
By STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun


Disliking Jack Morris was easy. He was single-minded and loud and rude and simply just mean.

His managers often were intimidated by him. His teammates weren't crazy about him. The media kept its distance.

And to date, his less than charming veneer has somehow kept the most consistent and dominant American League pitcher of the 1980s out of the baseball Hall of Fame. What else could it be?

Some might argue his numbers aren't neat and clean enough -- but anyone who saw Morris pitch understands that he was never defined merely by statistics. Numbers don't explain toughness: They never tell you how it got done.

All I know is: If I had to hand the ball to one pitcher, just one, to win a game between 1979 and 1982 in the AL, the pitcher was Morris. But clearly, the majority of Hall voters don't agree.

Jack Morris, with 45 more wins than the late Don Drysdale, remains a Hall of Fame long shot. He was named on only 133 of 506 ballots in the most recent election. He needs three times that number just to have a shot at the 75% he needs to be elected.

This is one mean man who deserves better.

THIS AND THAT

The best explanation why Nicolas Gill should not carry the flag in the opening ceremony came inadvertently from former Canadian athlete Nathalie Lambert. She told a reporter that:"Ask a Montrealer who's Marnie McBean? and they wouldn't know," said the assistant chef de mission for the Athens Games. "... That's just the way it is." That's not the way it should be. Ask any Canadian where Gaetan Boucher is from and they'll answer Canada. That is, in essence, why, Quebec athletes should not be celebrated for myopic views of Canada ... That's it, I've had it. I'm not standing for God Bless America anymore until Carlos Delgado starts hitting his weight. As of yesterday, he was still 20 points below his 230-pound frame ... While everybody in the NBA is making four-for-four trades, the Raptors just keep hiring scouts and waiting for Vince Carter to say something -- which he won't do until after his charity all-star game is over ... Now here's a protest I would endorse: Buy a ticket for Carter's all-star game, support the charity, but don't show up at the Air Canada Centre for the game. It isn't often you can empower fans.

HEAR AND THERE

Typically, it will be the little people hurt in an NHL lockout. The Gary Bettmans of the hockey world maintain their salaries while the workers you've never heard of get layoff notices ... All the predictions about how short or long a lockout will be is nothing more than guesswork. The only four people who really know are in the negotiating room and so far they're not talking ... Latest lesson from the BALCO scandal: Never share steroids and get divorced in the same year. Someone is going to end up squawking on the other partner ... Grant Fuhr, goalie coach. Who knew? ... Hands up, both of you, who figured Mark Hendrickson and Roy Halladay would have the same number of wins and almost the same earned-run average heading toward August ... Wonder who Andy van Hellemond likes in the fifth at Woodbine?

SCENE AND HEARD

Tiger Woods may cling to the No. 1 player ranking in the world but Phil Mickelson has a personal trifecta in major tournaments this year, finishing first, second and third ... Long after the Toronto Toros had selected Aaron Gavey and Josh Holden and Brad Leeb in the WHA player draft, they used their 21st-round choice to select Shayne Corson, strictly for social purposes ... Something you had to know: The 240th and final selection in the WHA draft was Ramzi Abid, late of the Pittsburgh Penguins ... "According to the precepts of the Geneva Conventions," wrote syndicated columnist Norman Chad, "The Best Damn Sports Show Period cannot be shown to prisoners of war." ... Still not retired for reasons still unexplained: Ron Francis ... New nickname for Argos receiver Michael Palmer, who seems like money in the bank: Cash Palmer ... We don't pay nearly enough attention to the brilliance of 24-year old Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals. The guy is just one year older than Alexis Rios, already has hit 141 big-league home runs and 452 RBIs. At similar stages of their careers, Barry Bonds had half the home runs and half the RBIs.

AND ANOTHER THING

What a pleasure it was to turn on the car radio Friday night and be surprised to hear Tom Cheek back on the Blue Jays broadcasts. For one night, baseball never sounded so right ... More information to make your day: The Founders' Franchise of the WHA, whomever they may be, drafted both Doug Gilmour and Kirk Muller. The team without a name is apparently considering its home base in cottage country near Kingston ... Under the department of testing you don't care about a cheerleader at Air Force has been accused of steroid usage ... Last week, at a minor-league game in Florida, one lucky fan in Florida won a free cremation. Now that's going to get to you to the ball park ... Don Matthews is playing down all this undefeated season talk in Montreal, but if the Alouettes remain healthy, 18-0 is a possibility ... Just when you thought it was safe to count them out, there are the Atlanta Braves back in contention for the hundredth year in a row ... And hey, whatever became, of Gilles (The Fish) Poisson?