More HOF Talk
Now that the traditional (not the Veterans Committee) Hall of Fame ballots are out, I would like to quickly point out two players that I have not yet discussed on this blog:
-First off, Ricky Henderson is obviously a first-ballot shoo-in for the Hall, as he was (and nobody has come close to surpassing him since) the greatest leadoff hitter in the history of the game. Yeah, he may have been an arrogant jerk with an affinity for speaking in the third person, but he did more than enough on the field to warrant a trip to Cooperstown.
-The other player I wanted to discuss, Bert Blyleven, is currently my biggest pet peeve about the Hall of Fame voters. I know this gets brought up every year about how Bert should be in the Hall, but let me assure you it isn’t just a Twins fan griping about a favorite player/personality. The statistics completely speak for themselves:
287 wins, 4,790 innings pitched, 242 complete games, 60 shutouts, 3,701 strikeouts, 3.31 ERA
Now, if those stats aren’t good enough to get a guy into the Hall of Fame, then I don’t know what are. Sure, Bert could be surly with the media and was a little crude at times (as evidenced by the picture posted above), but once you get to “know him” (I say this from listening to him broadcast Twins games for many years) you find that he just likes a good laugh…he isn’t really trying to be mean.
The other big knock on Bert is his 250 losses to go with all his wins, but you can’t necessarily blame him for the (mostly) terrible teams he played for. And, think of it this way…the two really good teams that Blyleven played for (’79 Pirates and ’87 Twins) ending up winning their respective World Series titles in LARGE part due to the contributions of Bert’s masterful pitching.
Finally, there are also some people who say that a player must dominate in a certain area of the game to be HOF-worthy, but Bert meets that qualification as well, as he had the greatest curveball of any of his contemporaries. You don’t top 3,000 K’s (and close in on 4,000) without a tremendous “out” pitch (think Johan Santana’s changeup or Francisco Liriano’s slider), and Bert had the curve.
So, here’s to hoping that Bert finally gets his dream of ascending those Cooperstown steps to receive his bronzed plaque. Let’s just hope he doesn’t moon the audience in the process!