The response in post-neo land was, predictably, more subdued than it would have been had the BBWAA managed to shut out all of the other candidates and enshrine Whisky Jack. With that inestimable calumny averted (for one more year, at least), it was possible for them to reflect on more long-term issues that stem from the collision of steroids and a logjammed candidate list.
The reaction to Morris' shortfall was subdued for a couple more reasons. First, Jack was stopped virtually in his tracks, gaining only three votes on the 2013 ballot over his 2012 performance (385 to 382). That probably brought a collective sense of relief to see Morris's momentum slow as dramatically as it had revved up in 2011 and 2012, when he'd moved from 42% to 67%.
|Back by popular demand!!|
While a portion of post-neo folk in the media (and across the blogosphere) couldn't really contain themselves as much as would have been prudent, the overall level of vitriol did take a noticeable dip (we'd attempt to quantify it, but we don't know if the "offensive" and "defensive" components can be reconciled).
Did that help to keep Jack from marching into the Hall in his General Sherman costume? Yes. No. Possibly. Who knows?
That there had been a concerted effort on the part of some BBWAA types to stick it to the neo-sabes did surface at last, though: MLB.com columnist Jon Heyman, notorious for his reversal from agnosticism on the steroid issue to a full "mouth of foam" in less time than it takes to save 15% or more on your car insurance, was choking back tears during the MLB network's coverage of the ballot results when it sunk in that Morris was still on the outside looking in. Sources have indicated that Heyman was active in chatting up fellow writers over the past couple of years, leading one to conclude that there has in fact been a bandwagoning effort for Morris.
|"Now warming up in the bullpen...Marcel|
(Come to think of it, framing a question such as this in non-baseball terms is immensely satisfying.)
The answer, I think, is a slightly guarded yes. As many have noted, there are three pitchers with more wins and better ERA+ values coming on the ballot in 2014 (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina). That's not going to help keep the voting bloc intact.
And it will make it harder for those already not on board to climb onto the bandwagon.
But since we seem to have become alarmingly in need of elections that involve a level of hypertension that's guaranteed to chew up and spit out the ventricles of ordinary citizens, and since we don't have a political skirmish scheduled until the fall of 2014, same time next year is a marker that has a peculiar resonance, a surreal charm, a skunky panache reminiscent of that piecemeal nude descending into a world of gawkers disguised as abstract shapes.
Anyway, as we like to say at times like this...