The Hall of Fame and baseball writers have become a touchy subject as of late for Bert Blyleven.
During a May 25th broadcast, Blyleven (a color commentator for the Minnesota Twins since 1996) and play-by-play announcer Dick Bremer got on the topic of baseball writers.
"It's a load of crap. Even at 58, I'd like to meet some of those writers on the field. Give them a bat. On second thought, don't give them a bat."
And, of course, the topic soon changed from baseball writers to Hall of Fame voting.
"How did Jim Rice get in after 15 years of eligibility? He hasn't hit any home runs since then. The writers and the system are corrupt."
Bremer, who is used to Blylven's on-air rants, tried to turn the rant into something positive.
"How did guys like Tom Seaver not receive 100% of the vote? Of the 430 ballots cast, Seaver got 425. Who were the five guys who didn't vote for him? Or what about (Cal) Ripken?"
"Speaking of votes," Blyleven countered. "I played with a guy named Jim Sundberg down in Texas."
Bert went on to tell how Sundberg got one Hall of Fame vote. "Sundberg was good, but not that good."
Sundberg won six consecutive gold gloves at catcher, won a World Series title with Kansas City in 1985, and had caught more games than anyone in history at the time of his retirement.
The story behind Sundberg's one vote is a touching one. During Sundberg's first year of eligibility (1995), he said it would be the perfect end to his career if he could get just one vote for the Hall.
A writer in Houston gave him his wish, and Sundberg got his vote, falling considerably short of the 75 percent required to get into the hall, receiving .02 percent of the votes.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to tell that Blyleven is frustrated.
Blyleven, who recorded 287 wins and 3,701 strikeouts during his 22 year career, is the only eligible member of the 3,000 strikeout not in the Hall of Fame.
There are three players in Cooperstown wearing M's on their caps: Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, and Kirby Puckett. However, the Twins have retired five numbers: Killebrew's No. 3, Tony Oliva's No. 6, Kent Hrbek's No. 14, Carew's No. 29, and Puckett's No. 34.
Blyleven's No. 28 has since been reassigned. It is currently worn by Twins reliever Jesse Crain—the main reason being that Blyleven was with the Twins for 11 of his 22 seasons. Oliva and Hrbek spent their entire careers in Minnesota, with Oliva staying for 15 seasons, and Hrbek for 13.
If the Twins don't think Bert's number is worthy of retirement, why should writers think he is eligible for the Hall?
Two reasons: Bert didn't win 300 games, and the fact that he was traded five times.
Bert only won 287 games. Blyleven was missed most of the 1982 season with an elbow injury, and struggled in 1983. He bounced back with a 19-win season in 1984, but could have easily had 20+ wins. He broke his foot while rough-housing in the bullpen.
Blyleven also missed the entire 1991 season after recovering from rotator cuff surgery.
Additionally, he was a nightmare for management.
Blyleven was known for playing "Hotfoot", in which you sneak up on people and light their shoelaces on fire. On December 7th, 1977, during a rarely nationally televised Texas Rangers game, Blyleven gave a camera the finger. He was traded the next day to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In 1980, one year after helping the Pirates win the World Series, he, Blyleven, threatened to retire unless he was traded (probably due to his 8-13 record after finishing 12-5 the previous season.) The Pirates traded him to the Cleveland Indians.
After a injury-plagued stint with the Indians, Blyleven demanded another trade, this time sending him to back to the Minnesota Twins.
An aging Blyleven was sent packing to the California Angels in 1988, one year after Blyleven helped the Twins win the World Series.
Getting into the hall doesn't get any easier for Bert.
Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez will all appear on the 2010 ballot, and Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker will appear on the 2011 ballot.
The only real chance for Blyleven to get into the Hall will be during 2012, his final year of eligibility. The 2012 hall class is headlined by Bernie Williams, Tim Salmon, and Brad Radke.
At the end of Ringo Starr's song, Elizabeth Reigns (in which he openly criticizes the Royal Family) Starr says "Well, there goes me knighthood." In Bernie Mac's 2004 film Mr. 3000, Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) isn't elected into the Hall of Fame due to media-related issues.
Blyleven, after his attacks on the media (which is like attacking himself) and his off-field antics, has a huge "Don't Vote For Me" sign on his back.
If Bert ever hopes to get into the Hall, he needs to start sucking up to the writers.
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