Oct. 16 Jack Morris pregame interview
Q. Jack, can you just describe your feelings about being asked to do this honor?
JACK MORRIS: Well, I'm overwhelmed really. To me it's a huge honor. Obviously I have got tremendous amount of great memories wearing the Tiger uniform.
Just to be in this environment again in Detroit, I would have paid to come watch this tonight, so it's pretty cool.
Q. Jack, talk about Justin Verlander and what you have seen from him. And I know you have been quoted a lot on him, but your feelings heading into this game tonight.
JACK MORRIS: Well, it seems like in the last two years every time Justin's game comes out, he's at a new level, a new plateau. And I wouldn't doubt that that continues as we go through the rest of this postseason and beyond.
You know, for me personally, I think a few years back I saw a young kid with more God-given ability than 99.9 percent of the world ever sees, and I wanted to make sure that he knew that I recognized that, number one, and, number two, that I am on his side.
So I had some words with him last spring to let him know those things and let him know what I think I could see in him and how I anticipated these kind of days would come. And I think once I kind of let the steam off in front of him and he understood that my heart's in the same side as his heart, our relationship got a little bit better.
Justin is his own guy, and I am not taking any credit for changing anything, but because of the fact that I had to field a lot of questions for several years about him, because a lot of people in the media compare the two of us, because of this uniform, I just wanted to let him know that I think he needs to take it to the next level, and he should.
But he should stay there for a long time, and he's doing all that right now. So I am super proud of him.
Q. Jack, obviously you pitched in a ton of big games in the postseason. What went through your mind when you saw Verlander's complete game in the Game 5 against the Oakland Athletics? You talk about him getting better and better.
JACK MORRIS: I think everybody in the Washington Nationals' front office should pay attention that guys should go deep into games. I shouldn't say that, should I?
You know, quite honestly, though, when I see CC complete a game two days after Justin did, and I see guys doing it, it reminds me that there's still hope because -- I can say this, Phyllis, and you can't tell me I can't say this -- I believe the pitch count is overrated. I think the whole thing will come to fruition, the cycle, the experiment, and they will see that there is value in starting pitching to go deep in the games, to help save the bullpen.
And there's lots of guys -- we weren't freaks because of what we did. I know guys can do it. I know they still can do it.
Q. A quick follow-up. You talk about the pitch count. Leyland has said he can go 140 no problem. In your day, and it wasn't too long ago, what was a pitch count that you could go up to?
JACK MORRIS: I've always said this. In our era for the average starting pitcher, the pitch count was 120. And the way I try to explain that is that if they hadn't really got themselves into a situation either to complete a game or win the game late with 120 pitches, it usually meant that they stunk it up early, including me, and we were gone. So when we got to that number, you know, we were near the end of the games.
I think the whole thing from 100 to 120, there is a big difference. What it will help young kids do is not be so fine. What I see them doing is being so fine early because they know that if I go 3-2 and I make a mistake, then I have a guy on base and there goes my pitch count and now I have to pitch two guys. Instead of just challenging guys early, you are still going to have base runners, but you're going to have more -- to me, just more aggression towards the hitters and you are going to go after them a lot more.
Q. Obviously Verlander has been great. It seems like every Tigers starter has been lights out for a better part of three weeks. What have you seen from the other starters?
JACK MORRIS: I'll tell you what, Justin gets the majority of attention as he probably should because he's on a different level, but, you know, you saw Sanchez's game in New York, pretty darn good. I have a lot of faith in him. And Fister, I have been a big fan. Ever since he has worn a Tiger uniform I have been pretty impressed with what he has done, and he pitched a big game the other night. And Scherzer, to me, he could strike out more than Justin. He has movement, he is funky, he has it all, too.
So you look at the numbers in postseason this year, the Tigers staff has been lights out. They have been great.
Q. Jack, what in your mind allows a guy to be a great big-game pitcher?
JACK MORRIS: I think they just relish in the concept of being on center stage. I just think they realize their peers are at home, most of them, watching the game, because that's what they do as baseball players, we watch.
And to be able to perform when you know your peers are watching, if that doesn't give you a warm fuzzy in baseball, then you should look for some rock 'n' roll job or something.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jack.