Say Hello to Cooperstown for Me
Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar will join the list of immortal baseball players on Sunday when they will be inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Both players are being inducted, but not without controversy—Bert for his career numbers and Roberto for his flair and on and off the field issues.
Bert was never a statistical monster during his big league career. His best year was in 1985 when he was a workhorse for the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins. He compiled 293.2 innings pitched, 206 strikeouts, 24 complete games, started 37 games but had a win-loss record of 17-16.
Roberto's abilities were never questioned, but the four-time Silver Slugger's attitude was.
Here Comes A Curveball
Bert Blyleven was a third-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 1969 draft. After a brief minor league career, the 19-year-old curveball pitcher was called up to the Bigs in 1970.
Blyleven’s career spanned 22 years, five different teams (twice playing for the Twins), and a loss record almost as great as his win total (287 wins to 250 losses). One of the most telling statistics of Bert’s career is his 242 complete games.
He compiled a few more impressive stats: 60 shutouts, a 3.31 ERA and 3,701 strikeouts that places him fifth on the all-time list.
Snapped Wrist, Must be Uncle Charlie
Blyleven never led the league in wins, but he did lead the league in losses with 17 in 1988 and only won 20 games once (1973, 20-17). He was a two-time All-Star selection (1973 and 1985).
Being 13 games shy of the magical 300 plateau for pitchers and not be in the Hall of Fame would be a shame. But his induction, like many, is more of a longevity award than a “great player” award. He was as bad as he was good.
At least he can boast two World Series Championships (1979 Pirates, 1987 Twins).
2nd Best only at 2nd
One of the best second basemen ever? You bet.
Many may remember “Robbie” for the bad, spitting on the face of home plate umpire John Hirschbeck at the end of the 1996 season, and the 2009 HIV/AIDS lawsuit against him by a former girlfriend (settled out of court), but we hardly remember the great.
Many may forget that this .300 career switch hitting second baseman was also a 10-time Gold Glove winner—the most for any second baseman in MLB history.
One of His Last 18 Games
Roberto was asked to get on base, score runs, play great defense, and he did.
He hit over .300 nine times in his career, scored over 100 runs six times, stole more than 20 bases 10 times, twice stealing more than 50 bases in 1991 (53) and 1993 (55), and in two World Series appearances he hit .347 (.313 career post season batting average in 11 series).
A "short stop" in NY for the second baseman
On the field he formed two of the more interesting up the middle tandems. One with fellow Hall of Fame inductee, Cal Ripken Jr. (1996-1998) and Omar Vizquel (2000-2002).
For three straight years Alomar and Vizquel both won Gold Gloves; only one of eight duos to have done so in the same year. Alomar also won two World Series while playing with the Toronto Blue Jays (1992, 1993) and was a 12-time All-Star.
For 12 of the 17 years Roberto was in Major League Baseball, he was the best player at his position. That’s something that very few Hall of Famers can say.
Mr. Golden Glove
Should MLB rename the Gold Glove Award to the Brooks Robinson Award? True he was a third baseman and the Gold Glove is awarded to the best individual fielder at each position regardless of league or division played. But Robinson was the man… he won the award 15 straight times!
That’s a winning streak that is not likely to ever happen again.