Tag:Bert Blyleven
Posted on: July 23, 2011 3:22 pm
 

The time Blyleven talked spitter with Gaylord

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Many teammates approached Bert Blyleven over the years inquiring how to throw such a nasty curveball. One of the best stories emerged in Cleveland, with a man who preceded Blyleven into the Hall of Fame: Gaylord Perry.

Oh, what might have been.

"I was curious to see how he threw his spitter, and he was curious to see how I held my curveball," Blyleven recalls. "So between starts, one time during his side piece, we talked about the curveball grip. He picked it up pretty quick, and he took it into the game.

"Of course, in my next side piece, he showed me the spitter. And the ball was tumbling. I'm loading up, right? On the side. And Gaylord did all that stuff [with his hand movements and motions] on the mound. I wasn't that way. I worked very quickly. I always pictured Bob Gibson, and the way he worked.

"So I was having fun with it, doing all these things. And the next day, my elbow was barking after my bullpen session. I thought I can't do that.

"I asked Gaylord, told him, 'You've got to be strong to throw that pitch. My elbow's barking.' He said 'Come work with me during the winter on my peanut farm, I'll show you what work's all about.' Gaylord was just an animal, a strong individual."

Posted on: July 23, 2011 3:07 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2011 3:23 pm
 

Alomar should have been first-ballot HOFer


COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- There is no reasonable explanation why Roberto Alomar was not a first-ballot Hall of Famer. None.

There are theories as to why he had to wait until his second year of eligibility. Mine is this: An enormous bloc of the New York voters left him off of their ballots, penalizing him for the way his skills vanished almost overnight at the end of his career during his brief stay with the Mets. I think they confused the fact that he couldn't play anymore with their suspicion that he simply quit trying.

Consequently, I think that many of them withheld their votes from Alomar until this year. That's their prerogative and their right, even if I disagree.

The other, more prevailing theory is that Alomar was penalized in the voting for the one despicable incident in his career, when he spat upon the face of umpire John Hirschbeck. He long ago apologized, and the two men have maintained a good relationship over the years since.

As for that possibility, this is what Alomar says:

"Me and John, we have a great relationship. We have become great friends, and I want people to know that the year that I didn't make it, one of the first phone calls that I got was from him apologizing, [saying] that he feels sorry for me not making it ... saying that was one of the reasons why I didn’t' make it in the first round.

"And I told him, 'No, it's not your fault. It was my fault. And, you know, we just have to move on. Me and John have become great friends. We have done a lot of great things for the foundation. I became real friends with him and his family. John embraced me the same way I embraced him.

"And when I got in this year, he was one of the happiest men alive. He left a message on my phone. I still have the message. And it was a great message and, you know ... we both move on and hopefully people can move on and let this episode go."

Likes: The village of Cooperstown is like something from the set of a 1940s movie. What a great place. You can never go wrong by coming here. ... Reggie Jackson striding through Sam Smith's Boathouse and Blue Mingo Grill for dinner in Cooperstown. The Macadamia nut encrusted halibut is outstanding at the Boathouse, by the way. And the coconut cake with vanilla ice cream is sensational. ... Robin Yount and Paul Molitor coming in from the golf course Saturday morning. ... Talking about the late Sparky Anderson with Al Kaline in the lobby of the Otesaga Hotel here Saturday morning. ... Bert Blyleven's sense of humor. ... Billy Williams' smile.

Dislikes: Cell phone service is awful in the area. My phone is getting reception probably an average of 10 minutes every hour.

Posted on: July 23, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Blyleven on K list: "Clemens did it illegally"

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- One of the big reasons I've cast an annual Hall of Fame vote for Bert Blyleven for the past decade is because, until a few years ago, the Dutchman ranked third all-time on baseball's strikeouts list and ninth all-time on shutouts.

Chew on that one for awhile. It is beyond impressive.

Anyway, while Blyleven is still ninth in shutouts, he's now fifth in strikeouts after both Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson went around him.

"I look at Johnson, Johnson did it for real," Blyleven told me when we talked recently. "Clemens did it illegally, I think. It is what it is, kind of like Hank Aaron. It's a completely different thing but, you talk about Barry Bonds, to me, Hank Aaron is still the Home Run King. And I think good baseball fans, good baseball people, know that.

"They don't need an asterisk in Cooperstown. People know."

With the piles of circumstantial evidence surrounding Clemens regarding performance-enhancing drugs, and given the trial that was aborted earlier this month and is set to resume this fall, does it anger Blyleven to see Clemens' name now ahead of his on the all-time strikeout list?

"No," Blyleven says. "He had a great career, but it was at the point where Boston was letting him go. To be honest with you, if somebody told me in '92 when I went through my shoulder surgery, if someone told me they could inject something in there to make me continue my career, I may have tried it. Who knows?

"Who knows what an individual goes through? I personally never knew of anybody, even though it was around. You could see it in Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco in the late '80s. They hit all the home runs, the Bash Brothers ... you could see they were getting bigger and stronger, but I never imagined that it could ever help me. I didn't know anything about it.

"But that's also when weights were coming in. Oakland was the first club to put a weight room in their park. We never had weights. We had little five-pound dumbbells."

Likes: The last 10 days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline are always fun, but they're also so out of control. The ratio of bad rumors to stuff that really will happen is somewhere around 50 to 1. And I may be badly underestimating that. ... Hot summer days, but the 100-degree temperatures blanketing the country are out of control. Drink plenty of water, and stay safe.

Dislikes: Border's Books closing for good. I remember spending hours on Saturday afternoons at the original Border's location in Ann Arbor with my family. One of my mom and dad's favorite things to do back in the 1970s, and what a magical place it was. Books everywhere, from floor to ceiling.

 

Posted on: January 6, 2010 5:47 pm
 

Hall of Fame election, random thoughts

A few final random thoughts on Wednesday's Hall of Fame election results:

-- Though falling five votes short of election surely is agonizing, Wednesday also should be heartening for Bert Blyleven. At 74.2 percent of the vote and with two more years of eligibility, Blyleven -- who looked like a longshot a few years ago -- almost certainly is a lock.

And incidentally, you should have heard what Hall of Famer Hank Aaron said of Blyleven on Sirius/XM radio's MLB Home Plate channel Wednesday morning during an interview with hosts Seth Everett and Jim Duquette:

"I hit against him and if there was a finer pitcher than he was then, I don't know who it was," Aaron said. "I only went to bat maybe 10 or 15 times [against Blyleven]. I don't think I ever got a hit off of him. But he was quite a pitcher.

"I know that he didn't win 20 games, but sometimes you don't need to win 20. I think it's just a matter of how you carried yourself and what you did for your other teammates. Just to have him in that rotation for that many years with Minnesota, [he] was somebody that you didn't look forward to hitting against."

Aaron wasn't too far off in his memory. Lifetime, he was 0 for 7 against Blyleven with one strikeout.

-- I didn't expect former Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin to make it, though I do think he's deserving and I did vote for him. Within that, I thought his vote total would have been higher than 51.6 percent (he finished fifth).

-- In what essentially was the first true test of a designated hitter's place in the Hall, former Seattle DH Edgar Martinez notched only 36.2 percent of the vote, which placed him seventh overall.

A day earlier, during his retirement announcement, this is what Randy Johnson had to say about his former Seattle teammate's Hall of Fame chances: "I'm hoping he gets a lot of consideration. I know it's been debated whether a DH is worthy. During my time, I've never seen a better pure hitter than him.

"That's no disrespect to any teammates I've had or played against. I think anybody would agree who watched Edgar during that era how good he was. I'll be pulling for him because of what he meant while I was on the mound."

-- Tim Raines's 30.4 percent of the vote is ludicrously low. The guy reached base more times and scored more runs than Tony Gwynn. He wasn't anywhere near the hitter that Gwynn was, but Raines, together with Rickey Henderson, changed the way the leadoff slot in the lineup was viewed.

-- Glad to see Jack Morris' vote total increase to 52.3 percent (from 44 percent last year), but he's still way too far off for my liking. People need to get over his 3.90 ERA and look at the rest of his game. Nobody was more dominant than Morris throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

-- The near-misses this year -- Blyleven and Alomar -- also will have their chances increase dramatically in the near future because the next two Hall of Fame classes just aren't very good.

Next year, among the names that come onto the ballot for the first time are Jeff Bagwell, John Franco, Kevin Brown, Rafael Palmeiro, Larry Walker and Juan Gonzalez.

In 2012, it's even worse: Bernie Williams, Ruben Sierra and Tim Salmon are the biggest names who come eligible.

Likes: Andre Dawson is a class act and a deserving Hall of Famer. ... Matt Holliday back in St. Louis. ... The film Precious. ... The DVD Revolutionary Road. ... Wilco (The Album). ... Lyle Lovett's Natural Forces. ... The shift in focus to college basketball in January. ... My wife's homemade pizza, on deck this Thursday night while the college football national title game between Alabama and Texas is played. ... Former Los Angeles Times rock critic Robert Hilburn's memoir Cornflakes with John Lennon. Some great stories and behind the scenes stuff. ... John Meacham's American Lion: Andrew Jackson and the White House, an excellent biography. ... Alicia Keys doing a version of Empire State of Mind on Stephen Colbert's show last month with Colbert rapping about the suburbs. Very amusing.

Dislikes: Christmas vacation is finished already?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Come on children, you're acting like children
"Every generation thinks it's the end of the world
"All you fat followers get fit fast
"Every generation thinks it's the last
"Thinks it's the end of the world"

-- Wilco, You Never Know

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com