NEW YORK -- Jack Morris used to live for this time of year.
The MLB.com analyst earned four World Series rings over an 18-year career, creating indelible memories such as a 1991 Game 7 duel with John Smoltz, and helping Detroit, Minnesota and Toronto to their most recent crowns. On Wednesday, he toured the Big Apple with the World Series trophy, stopping by the MLB Fan Cave, Maxim magazine and elsewhere to talk postseason.
"It's the best time of year," Morris said. "Fall is the time when all the cream comes to the top in baseball. The best teams are playing the best teams. Every single city is excited about their chances in the postseason. Every game's a sellout. It's just an exciting time. It's really when the stars of the game can come and shine and show the whole world what they're all about."
Morris, 58, was that person you expected to shine at this time of year. In a career that spanned from 1977-94, he threw 92 1/3 postseason innings and went 7-4 over 13 starts. He was 2-0 in the World Series for the 1984 Tigers, 2-0 for the '91 Twins and 0-2 for the '92 Blue Jays. He made 27 starts during the regular season for that Toronto club that repeated in '93, earning a ring, but not appearing that postseason.
If you want to know his opinion on this postseason, you are going to find it in abundance at MLB.com. For example, would he start Bartolo Colon or Sonny Gray for Oakland in Game 5 of the American League Division Series against Detroit on Thursday? That was one subject that did not require much thought, although it is a hot topic of debate.
"I think Bartolo Colon has to pitch," Morris said. "Sonny Gray only has 11 starts in the big leagues, and he doesn't want him to go through the winter with a [bad] taste in his mouth, losing the biggest game of his life already. Colon led the team in wins and he started Game 1, so why wouldn't you go with the guy you had confidence in in Game 1. He's pretty good."
Morris spent the first 14 years of his career with Detroit, and he is as eager as anyone to see whether Justin Verlander can do it again for the Tigers, following his Game 5 victory at Oakland a year ago. He feels for Detroit fans who have waited for that trophy since 1984, the year he threw complete-game victories in Games 1 and 4 against San Diego.
"It's another whole generation of great ballplayers, and the town's excited about it," Morris said. "Every time you watched a Tigers game the whole second half, there have been just tremendous crowds. There's always been tremendous excitement for the Tigers in Detroit, and all their sports teams, really. I consider it one of the greatest sports towns in America."
Boston awaits the winner of Detroit-Oakland, with the AL Championship Series set to begin Saturday at Fenway Park. Whoever heads there as a survivor from Thursday's game is going to have their hands full, Morris said.
"Boston is a team that could be a team of destiny," Morris said. "They've played solid baseball all season long. A lot of people thought there would be that hiccup, that week or two of really poor baseball, and they never went through that.
"They're a solid team that grinds out at-bats, they've got good pitching at starter and reliever, so they're a very, very good team, and they're in the driver's seat now with that home-field advantage -- waiting for that game to be played in Oakland, and then that team having to fly across the country on short rest."
What is it like to be in the position today of being in a tech driver's seat, offering his view to fans glued to their mobile and connected devices?
"I kind of pinch myself, because an analyst is supposed to be somebody who has knowledge of what he's talking about, and I kind of question that myself, because the more I watch baseball, the more confused I get at times," Morris said. "With that being said, I really do enjoy it, because it keeps me in the game in a way I feel I can do my best role. Obviously there are times where I wish I was a coach down on the field, but it hasn't happened in a way that I think justifies it for what I want to do."
After the postseason has come and gone, it will be December before you know it and the Hall of Fame ballot will arrive for Baseball Writer's Association of America voting members. That will mark his 15th and final appearance on the ballot, and it remains to be seen whether momentum will carry him into Cooperstown. He drew 67.7 percent of the vote in 2013 (75 percent is required), and 66.7 the previous year. There is a movement in his favor, but there also is a pileup of marquee names now.
"First of all, I don't think I feel any different than I did in the last several years," Morris said. "I just want to acknowledge and thank the writers who have voted for me, for their support and their continued support, and I'm very proud of what I've accomplished. I don't think I have to argue my point one bit at all. If it's good enough, it will be, and if it's not good enough, it's not."