Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blyleven for the Hall of Fame?

With the snow piling up outside, I thought maybe a little baseball talk would put me in a better mood.

Yesterday the Baseball Hall of Fame voting was announced, and once again former Twin - and current Twins announcer - Bert Blyleven came up a few votes short. Five votes, to be exact, the closest he has come.

Bert's been on the HOF ballot for 13 years now, and no other player seems to be create the kind of passionate arguments that surround the question of whether or not he belongs in the Hall. One side is a vocal group of supporters that trumpet his 3,000+ strikeouts, 287 wins and his all-time ranking in various pitching stats.

The other side points out that he only won 20 games once, he didn't reach 300 career wins and that during his career no one really considered him a dominant pitcher, as represented by his bleak record in Cy Young Award voting.

I don't know which side is correct, although the more I read, the more I tend to believe he should be in. But there's one thing that bugs me about the whole controversy, and that is the fact that Blyleven himself campaigns so relentlessly for the recognition.

After his first couple years on the ballot, when he was coming up way short, he sort of pouted about it, at one point saying that he wanted to tell all of the voters, "Don't vote for me at all." Over the next few years, he became sort of the self-appointed chairman of the "Blyleven for the Hall of Fame Committee," regularly giving interviews explaining why he felt he belonged.

Just this week, he penned a column for headlined "Why I Should Get That Hall Call Today" which you can read here.

Look, I like Bert. He's a fun and knowledgeable broadcaster, seems like a good guy and I always kind of rooted for him because we share that Dutch heritage. I've had friends bump into him on Twins road trips who said he was charming and gracious in chatting with them. But there is something so completely off-putting about campaigning for your own Hall of Fame election. He even has a web site,, with links to his stats and a series of articles promoting his HOF candidacy. Bert leaves no doubt in anyone's mind that he thinks he has earned a place in the Hall.

In my mind, when someone is asked about their chances of being in the Hall of Fame the answer should be something like, "It's really an honor to even be considered. To be mentioned in the same context as Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan and people like that is very satisfying. I don't know if I belong because that's for others to decide, and I can't control what the voters do, but if they see fit to put me in, I would be thrilled and honored."

One of the lessons I've learned in life - and I would have been better off if I had learned it earlier - is that a little bit of humility goes a long way. Maybe if Bert could stop coming off like a bitter old man who "wants what's his", and be quiet for awhile, this story might have a happy ending.

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