Let be start this article by prefacing I like Bert Blyleven. I have had the pleasure of interviewing him on several occasions.
Let be start this article by prefacing I like Bert Blyleven. I have had the pleasure of interviewing him on several occasions. He is a good guy, a baseball lifer if you will. He pitched for 22 years, has been broadcasting Twins games since 1996, is full of life and energy and he is feisty, which to me is a great trait.
But with all that being said, Blyleven is not, I repeat, not a Hall of Fame Pitcher, but on Wednesday, Cooperstown rewarded him for a very long and solid career with a plaque.
He waited 14 years and this year, he appeared on 79 percent of the ballots cast.
Welcome Bert to â€œWatertown,â€ I mean Cooperstown, and what cap would you like on your plaque?
Has it come down to this, if you were a solid player you get in, just so there could be a ceremony in July and Cooperstown, which puts on a great show, could put some more money in their pockets. If the fear is that there will be no induction ceremony on one sunny and hot day in the summer, because no one gets voted in, so what?
What if that happened? Would baseball shut down? No.
Blyleven was a very good pitcher, but he was also a compiler. He pitched for 5 teams in 22 years, finished his career a 287-250 mark (just 32 games over .500) with 242 complete games, which is impressive. But remember, the game was different 30-40 years ago, as pitchers were left out there to finish games.
Yes, he was 5-1 in post-season play, but he won 20 games just one, 19 games once. The number that stands out is the strikeouts. He fanned 3,701 batters and I think that is where the dilemma comes in.
Striking out 3,000 hitters does not mean you are automatically getting into Cooperstown, just like hitting 500 homers does not guarantee enshrinement these days. The 20 wins came when he was a kid at age 22, and his best seasons statistically, you could argue were the 1984 and 1985 campaigns.
He won 19 games with the Indians, and placed third in the Cy-Young Voting, and was traded late in the 1985 season to the Twins, his original team. He went 17-16 and hurled 24 complete games, while fanning 206. His lifetime 3.31 ERA, though, is lower than Jack Morris,â€™ but he was not a big-game pitcher like Morris.
The old saying is this, if you have to ask whether a player is worthy of the Hall, than he is not.
Morris pitched for 18 seasons, and was 68 games over .500 for his career with a 254-186 record. He won 20 games on three occasions in his career, 19 games once and logged close to 4,000 innings.
But where Morris rises over Blyleven is in October. He made his money and earned his reputation in the post-season. He boasted a 7-4 mark, tossing five complete games, included one of the greatest gems in post-season history, when he tossed a complete game, seven-hit shutout against Atlanta in Game 7 of the 1991 Fall Classic. He would go on to win Series MVP. He started three games in that series, won 2, including the Game 7 masterpiece, while fanning 15 in 23.0 frames or work and finishing with an ERA of 1.17.
Morris was the winningst pitcher of the 1980â€™s and a key cog in three World Series championship teams. Does that mean anything today? I guess not. Blyleven, won two rings with the 1979 Pirates and the 1987 Twins and his curveball was nasty when he was on, but let me ask you this.
If you had one pitcher to throw out for Game 7 of the World Series, who are you handing the ball to. Is it Blyleven or Morris?
My point is this. Morris was a feared and dominant pitcher when he was out there, Blyleven was not. He was a very good pitcher, but Cooperstown is reserved for the greatest, those that dominated. It is not the Hall of â€œVery Goodâ€.
Guys like Morris, Luis â€œEl Tianteâ€ Tiant, and Ron Guidry were dominant pitchers, they were feared pitchers, they were nasty pitchers, and they all should have a plaque in Cooperstown, which is reserved for greatness.
Morris, however, was in his 12th year on the ballot, and this time around was selected on 53.5 percent of the ballots, and even if his voting numbers do jump next year now that Blyleven’s in, it may be too little, too late for Mount Morris, who has been outspoken an outspoken supporter of Blylevenâ€™s Hall resume.
Maybe Blyleven should return the favor. It seems that might be the last chance for Morris to get his plaque in Watertown, where do you donâ€™t go to be great, you just have to be really, really good.
Rich Quinones is a freelance sports broadcaster, sports writer, and host and creator of “On Q” Sports Talk, which can be heard every Thursday night from 10-11PM on 1460 WIFI AM.
He has over 13 years of broadcasting experience, most recently spending the last three as afternoon drive-time host for 1290 The Ticket, a Fox Sports Affiliate in Delaware. He has worked for various news and sports radio stations in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Ohio and the â€œFirst State,â€ where he won numerous awards for his own-air work. A national freelance sports correspondent for several different media outlets across the country, Rich has covered every sport over the years as well as the local teams in our backyard, and is known for his â€œhard-hitting,â€ passionate style behind the microphone. His work has been published online as well as in SJ Magazine and South Jersey Magazine. He is also play-by-play voice for the NAFL and served as lead blow-by-blow announcer for Dave Tiberiâ€™s T.N.T Boxing.
â€œQâ€ covers the sweet science on a daily basis and is set to launch his own show online. Rich is also an advocate for retired NFL Players, who are struggling in life since leaving the game and need some guidance. He has partnered up with several former NFL players, who also believe in this cause.
Contact Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org