On this date 12 years ago, as I shot pool at The Snuggery in Palm Beach Gardens after a glorious day of spring training baseball, a message crawled across the screen during an ESPN broadcast.
It said that uoung Cardinals starting pitcher Matt Morris had torn a ligament in his elbow and that he would miss the season because of Tommy John surgery.
Morris didn't throw a pitch during the 1999 season -- and he only made it into 53 innings worth of games in 2000. But he rebounded in 2001 to go 21-8 with a 3.16 ERA and 17-9 with a 3.42 the following season.
Unfortunately, Matty Mo's arm troubles weren't completely behind him. In 2003 he started to struggle with shoulder troubles, while there were moments of brilliance, he was never the guy on a consistent basis the Cardinals hoped he could be.
From 2003 through 2005, Morris averaged a respectable -- if not spectacular -- 13-9 record with a 4.22 ERA.
Still, he authored one of the greatest single game performances in Cardinals history.
On Sept. 3, 2004, as the Cardinals were trying to hang on to a playoff spot en-route to the 2004 World Series. They faced the surging Dodgers and Jose Lima at Busch Stadium with the post season hopes on the line.
Coming into the game with a 4.63 ERA and his velocity diminished because of shoulder problems, Morris pitched seemingly on guts alone and posted nine zeros on the scoreboard while the Cardinals scored one run in the second, another in the fifth and put the game away in the seventh with another.
Morris left the Cardinals to sign with the Giants prior to the 2006 season. He never again was an over .500 pitcher and he called it quits in 2008 -- at 33 years old -- instead of carrying on with diminished skills.