Behind Morris' tears lies cold heart of mercenary

December 19, 1991|By Bob Sansevere | Bob Sansevere,Knight-Ridder

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The next time the TV is on, don't be surprised if you see Jack Morris, tears streaming down his face, saying how he always has wanted to pitch for a Canadian team. Jack, you see, is a man of the '90s. He's not afraid to shed a tear. He proved that when he signed with the Twins and got all weepy, saying it was (sniffle, sniffle) a lifelong dream to play in Minnesota.

The tear spigot opened up again during the World Series. Jack got choked up when he talked about pitching for the Twins, the team he (sniffle, sniffle) rooted for as a kid.

Minnesota is where Jack Morris grew up, where he returned at age 36 to lead the Twins to the World Series. Minnesota is where Jack Morris will visit next season as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Morris' lifelong dream lasted one season. Presumably, he'll break down and cry, if he hasn't already. It won't be out of sentimentality, however. If Morris gets blubbery, it will be because of the haul he has made in Toronto. If you put your John Hancock on a two-year contract that's guaranteed and worth $10.85 million, wouldn't you get just a little emotional?

Lifelong dreams, it would appear, can be bought for a price. The Blue Jays' two-year guarantee was $2.85 million more than the Twins' two-year guarantee. The Twins offered a third year that could have netted Morris up to $5 million, but it wasn't guaranteed.

Some people figured Morris would listen to offers, get his ego stroked, then re-sign with the Twins. Because it was his lifelong dream to play here.

Baloney.

Morris is like a lot of ballplayers. He's a mercenary. He'll go where the money is. Before signing with Toronto, Morris called Twins general manager Andy MacPhail and said he had just been offered a three-year, $15 million deal. That wasn't entirely true because the third year is at the Blue Jays' option. They can re-sign Morris for a flat $5 million or buy him out of the third year for $1 million.

Anyway, Morris called to say he would take less from the Twins, that he would return for three years and $14 million. MacPhail told Morris sorry, no can do.

So, Morris signed with Toronto. He got what all of us want in life. He set himself up for life.

"I think he was genuine when he came here and said he wanted to stay," MacPhail said. "Probably the thing that made him a great pitcher on the mound probably was the same thing that drove him to take this [Toronto] offer."

What's interesting, though, is that Morris actually could have gotten more from the Twins than he'll get from the Blue Jays just by staying healthy in 1992 and 1993. All he had to do was pitch 100 innings in each of those seasons and he would have been assured of making $3 million in '94. "If he's just alive and breathing, he can get 100 innings a year," MacPhail said.

The Twins' offer in '94 was based on Morris' performances in '92 and '93. There were six incremental hikes in salary based on innings pitched. It ranged from the $3 million for 100 innings in '92 and '93 to $5 million if Morris pitched just 100 innings in '92 and 225 in '93.

"In some ways, there's more security in our offer [than Toronto's]," MacPhail said. "It boiled down to if he was hit by a bus and never pitched again, we'd be willing to give him $8 million."

Using the same hit-by-a-bus scenario, the Blue Jays are willing to give Morris $10.85 million. Beyond that? Chances are, the Blue Jays will buy out of Morris' contract for $1 million after two years rather than pay him $5 million in '94. Keep in mind, he'll be 39. In other words, the Twins' offer could have been more lucrative in the third year.

Maybe the day will come when Morris cries again, this time because he didn't take the Twins' offer.

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