Matt Morris has reportedly signed a 3-year, $27-million deal with the Giants, reuniting him with his favorite backstop, Mike Matheny, and ending a nine-year career as a Cardinal.
Matt’s been one of my favorite baseball players since his rookie season in 1997, when he went 12-9 with an ERA of 3.19. I learned that season that Matt sometimes rode
his bicycle to the park on days he wasn’t pitching, and that was all I needed. He was always fun to watch pitch. He comes across as one of those guys who manages to be ultra-competetive without being a prick. His Cardinal career also coincides exactly with the period of my most intense baseball fandom: post-college, with more time on my hands and the Internet to keep me close to my team. He’ll always be one of the faces of that era of baseball to me.
His best moments in a Cardinals uniform, though, came in one week in October of 2001. Twice in six days, he dueled Curt Schilling and the Diamondbacks in the Division Series. The Cards came out on the wrong side both times, as Morris lost the first game 1-0 and took a no-decision after 8 1-run innings in a 2-1 loss in the deciding game five. It was tough, stressful baseball, the kind that makes us ordinary people wonder how anyone can block out the drama long enough to actually participate in it. Up against Schilling at
his world-beating best, Matt Morris threw a couple of the best games of his life.
He ends his Cardinal career having started the tenth-most games in team history, 209. with a 101-62 record, a 3.61 ERA, and an ERA+ of 119*. He’s fourth in team history in strikeouts, with 1337, and sixth in winning percentage at .620. Oh, and he’s sixth in hit batsmen with 49.
Thanks, Matt. Good luck in San Francisco. I think you’ll like the city and that big ballpark.
*ERA+ is a complex stat designed to show how a pitcher performed relative to other pitchers in the league that year. 100 is average, anything over that is good. Matt’s best was a 166 in his injury-shortened 1998. Last year, an off year for him, he still managed a 104.