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Editorial: Morris should be in the Hall of Fame

The Baseball Writers' Association of America sent a strong message last week to those who use performance-enhancing drugs: You can't cheat your way in to the Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, the writers also sent a message to those of us in small markets: Your players need to be exceptional -- and we have to like them -- or they won't join the hall.

The association failed last Wednesday to elect a single player to the hall, including Jack Morris. This hasn't happened in 37 years.

The former Minnesota Twins pitcher spent the majority of his career playing for two other small-market teams: the Detroit Tigers and the Toronto Blue Jays. But hit most dramatic performance came in the seventh game of the 1991 World Series when he pitched a complete-game 10-inning win for the Twins.

Morris is justifiably proud of his record. He also can be proud that he's no Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa. No one has ever so much as hinted that Morris used steroids to enhance his performance.

The native Minnesotan used his natural athletic abilities, tremendous willpower and a drive to win to rack up impressive numbers the old-fashioned way:

• He posted 254 wins.

Some may say that's not close enough to 300, but this is the third-highest win total in the American League's designated hitter era.

• He won more games in the late 1980s than any other pitcher.

• The ace pitcher won four World Series rings.

In addition, he twice earned the World Series MVP honor, becoming the second player in history to do so.

• He had three 20-game win seasons and 14 winning seasons overall in his 16 years as a full-time starter.

• He played in five All-Star games.

The election rules of the baseball writers group states that election will be based upon the "player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

Where in that definition does pitcher Jack Morris not qualify?