Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bert Blyleven Curves His Way to the Hall of Fame

Twins fandom breathed a sigh of relief as Bert Blyleven finally received his call from Cooperstown and will be joining baseball's Hall of Fame. 

Baseball statistics geeks can build compelling cases both for and against his inclusion, hence his 14 year wait during his period of eligibility.  I won't wade into that pool - there are a ton of other sites that will offer you that kind of breakdown. 

Personally, I feel he should be in, if for no other reason than his stats were compiled while never being a power pitcher.  Unlike those five (yes, there are only five) pitchers that have compiled more strikeouts - Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Steve Carlton - Bert got it done without a blazing fastball.  Bert's strength, throughout his 22 year career, was a knee-buckling, , fool-making curve ball.  It was one that was fearlessly, confidently, and successfully thrown during both full and hitter's counts, in clutch situations, and basically anytime. 

Sure, when waited upon and when the pitch hung, Bert got tattooed.    But he was also a gamer, an innings machine, a big game pitcher (postseason ERA of 2.47) and a substantive clubhouse asset.  Plainly, the Twins would have had zero chance at a World Series in 1987 without his presence. 

Call it what you will - the deuce, the yacker, the dark one, the bender, Uncle Charley, the hook - for 22 years Bert rode it to great success on the diamond.  And today, he finally rides it into Cooperstown.  Congratulations.

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