OBSERVATIONS: When Jack Morris pitched 10 shutout innings in a World Series Game 7

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave not knowing whether to laugh or cry about Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash removing Blake Snell from Game 6 when he was pitching like Bob Gibson or Tom Seaver or Sandy Koufax or Warren Spahn — all guys who would have punched Cash in the face if he had tried to take him out of that game.

—When asked what is the best World Series I’ve covered and the best single World Series game I’ve covered, I always go provincial.

It’s the 1975 World Series, Cincinnati Reds over the Boston Red Sox, and Game 6 of that Series when Boston’s Carlton Fisk hit the famous (or infamous, if you’re a Reds fan) 12th-inning walk-off home run.

They didn’t call them walk-offs then, just game-winning home runs.

Thee is another World Series game that comes close to the Fisk game, one that many others say is the best World Series game ever.

It was Game 7 of the 1991 World Series — Minnesota Twins vs. Atlanta Braves.
And something happened in that game that will never happen again. The game went 10 innings and for nine innings there couldn’t be more pressure. it was 0-0 in the Minneapolis Metrodome, the loudest and noisiest place I’ve ever been.

And what will never happen again? Minnesota pitcher Jack Morris pitched the entire 10 innings, 10 shutout innings under excruciating pressure. He gave up seven hits, walked two and struck out eight.

Morris threw 122 pitches and manager Tom Kelly never once thought about taking him out.

After the game, Twins outfielder Randy Bush said, “ Who was going to take Jack out of this game? Who would have had the courage to say ‘Jack, you’re done.’ I don’t think anyone would have done it. If it was Tom Kelly, Jack would have punched him, kicked him – he might have killed him.”

Fortunately, Kevin Cash was not managing the Twins.

Just three years later, after he was released by the Cleveland Indians, Morris signed with the Cincinnati Reds before the 1995 season and reported to their spring training camp in Plant City, Fla.

It didn’t work out. Early one morning, general manager Jim Bowden called Morris into his office and released him, doing the dirty deed very early before the media arrived.

But as I pulled past the players parking lot, I saw Morris, bag over his shoulder, heading for his car. I sprinted to the side of his Corvette and asked, “Where are you going?”

Morris was in tears. “I’ve been released,” he said. “My career is over.” And with that, he turned over the ignition, tears streaming down his cheeks, and sped down South Park Drive and into retirement.

—Kevin Cash’s explanation/rationalization for pulling Blake Snell, that led to Tampa Bay losing the World Series:

“At that point, Blake had given everything we could ask for. A tough decision, a gut-wrenching decision. Nick Anderson (Snell’s replacement) arguably has been the best reliever in baseball the last two years. I totally understand the questioning, the criticism that is going to come with it.

“Everything enters into the decisions we make,” he said. “We want to make the best decisions that helps our club. I’m OK with the decision and that’s what makes us special. We value information. We want to avoid any pitcher seeing a lineup three times through. It makes a lot of sense.”

No, it doesn’t. It is analytics at its worst. It is spreadsheet baseball at its worst. And it cost the Rays in the worst way.

Said Snell, “I know the third-time thing. But I believe in me. I believe in my stuff and what I was doing. I didn’t walk nobody (sic), they had just two hits up the middle. Throughout that game I dominating that game in every outcome possible. I wanted to keep going. I felt so confident. I wanted to go that whole game, that’s all I wanted to do.”

And they didn’t let him. And poof went their chances to take the World Series into Game 7. Hopefully, the rest of baseball took note and start playing the way the Dodgers played — solid, all-around old-time baseball.

Doubt it.

—Bigfoot exists and, indeed, can be found under a Los Angeles Rams football helmet.

The only time a punter’s anonymity is erased is when he shanks one sideways or fumbles a snap or has a kick blocked. The Witness Protection Program hands people a football and puts them in a punter’s uniform.

That wasn’t the case Monday night for Rams punter Johnny Hekker. He had a heck of a night against the Chicago Bears. He punted five times for 221 yards and all five were inside the 10-yard line.

The Bears had their backs to the wall closer than five blindfolded guys ready for execution. For his effort, Hekker was given a game ball by the Rams, which is like giving a hockey stick to a tennis player.

—QUOTE: From Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes on recruiting a kicker: “I recruited a Czech kicker and during the eye exam I asked him to read the bottom line and he said, ‘Read it? I know him.’”

—Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin splashed social media with heavy criticism of SEC officials after he believed they blatantly missed a call. It cost his team a touchdown against Auburn, a game Ole Miss lost, 34-28.

The conference said he was right, that the play should have been reviewed, and apologized. Then they fined him $25,000 for criticizing the officials, even though he was right.

Wonder what they would have fined him if he was wrong?

—QUOTE: From comedian Jim McGaffigan on the black-and-white striped shirts sales people wear at Foot Locker: “Don’t you think it’s strange how many referees work at Foot Locker?”

—Clemson junior quarterback Trevor Lawrence has said all along that he plans to move on, put himself in the NFL draft, where he is expected to be the No. 1 pick.

He waffled a bit this week, though, when he said, ”My mindset has been that I’m going to move on. But who knows? There’s a lot of things that could happen.”

Some guys will do anything to avoid being drafted by the New York Jets. It is not unprecedented. Peyton Manning returned for another year at Tennessee to avoid being picked by the Bennie and the Jets.

—Is a major league pitcher like Samson? If you shave off his beard is he shorn of his slider or change-up?

Beards are the vogue for MLB pitchers, most of them shaggy and as ugly as a sloth. But, when in Rome. . .

Want proof that The Beard is not the word? Ask Gerrit Cole, who seemingly has a healthy stack of Gillettes in his medicine cabinet. Yeah, yeah. I know. The New York Yankees made him shave the beard he wore in Houston.

—Andy Dalton leaves the abyss that is the Cincinnati Bengals and lands in Dallas. He gets his chance to quarterback the Cowboys when Dak Prescott goes down with an injury.

Then, on a dirty targeting hit by Washington’s Joe Bostic, Dalton is knocked out of the game with a concussion.

What was good for Cleveland’s Myles Garrett should be good for Bostic. Suspension, please.

Myles Garrett, by the way, is the monstrous ‘Nessie’ of Lake Erie, the best defensive end by myles. He dislodges footballs from the hands of quarterbacks like a professional pickpocket.

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