Ken Gurnick Has Principles?

Ken Gurnick, a reporter for and an Honorary member of the BBWAA, cast his ballot for the 2014 Hall of Fame.  On that ballot was only one name – Jack Morris. He excluded players like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Tim Raines. Here is his 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.

I won’t go into how crazy this is, many others have ranted about that already. I’ll just say I guess it isn’t much of a surprise.  Last year, Gurnick also only voted for Jack Morris (as did Murray Chass). Two years ago?  Morris and Lee Smith only. I guess he thinks he has a principled position – no PED era player gets into the Hall. The problem is, his principle, if applied correctly eliminates Morris and Smith, for both Morris and Smith pitched against players in the PED era.

Let’s be as narrow as possible to give Mr. Gurnick the benefit of the doubt. Let us say that the PED era began when baseball banned steroids in 1991.

Jack Morris pitched from 1977 to 1994. During the PED era that overlaps with his career (1991-1994), he faced the following alleged/suspected steroid users:

  • Jose Canseco, 32 times, 5 for 25, 1 homer
  • Brady Anderson, 30 times, 5 for 25, 1 homer
  • Mark McGwire, 28 times, 5 for 24, 1 homer
  • Rafael Palmeiro, 27 times, 6 for 23, 1 homer
  • Ivan Rodriguez, 15 times, 6 for 12

He pitched head to head against Roger Clemens twice during that period – May 8, 1991 and June 11, 1992.

The other guy Mr. Gurnick voted for, Lee Smith, pitched from 1980-1997. During the PED era of 1991-1997, Smith led the league in saves three times. On the mound, he faced the following alleged/suspected steroid users:

  • Sammy Sosa, 10 times, 3 for 10,
  • Barry Bonds, 6 times, 3 for 5, 2 homers
  • Ken Caminiti, 6 times, 0 for 6
  • Ivan Rodriguez, 6 times, 1 for 4
  • Brady Anderson, 5 times, 0 for 4
  • Jeff Bagwell, 5 times, 1 for 5
  • Mark McGwire, 4 times, 2 for 4, 2 homers
  • Manny Ramirez, 4 times, 1 for 4

Principles are great, but then you have to adhere to them.  If you are not voting for Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine because they played during the PED era then you can’t vote for Morris or Smith either. If other BBWAA writers don’t call this guy out, then shame on them. End of my quick rant.


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