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Alomar, Blyleven Get In: Final Thoughts on the 2011 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Bert Blyleven Love to Fart (Photo from Razzball.com)

“Bert Blyleven, Hall of Famer has a nice ring to it” – Bert Blyleven on Mike and Mike in the Morning on ESPN radio.

Personally, I’m not quite ready to live a world where Bert Blyleven is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Named on 79.7% of the ballots, he is still number one on the Insufferable Mo-Mo ballot.

“It’s been 14 years of praying and waiting,” Blyleven said in a conference call. “And thank the baseball writers of America for, I’m going to say, finally getting it right.”

The election has not diluted your enduring Hall of Fame level of intolerability, sir. It got you to Cooperstown so why stop now? Blyleven beat his own drum until he had people who never saw him play voting for him based on statistics.

Check out these two pitchers:

W L % ERA CG SHO IP SO ERA+ WHIP
Pitcher #1 283 237 .544 3.45 180 18 4530.1 2461 108 1.259
Pitcher #1 287 250 .534 3.31 242 60 4971.0 3701 118 1.198

Aside from shutouts, complete games, and strikeouts, they are basically the same pitcher. What if I told you pitcher #1 won 16 Gold Gloves, including 12 in a row from 1962-1973. Pitcher #2 had a single 20-win season while Pitcher #1 did it three times, including back-to-back in 1974-1975.

Pitcher #1 finished fifth in the MVP voting in 1966 (25-13 / 2.75 / 1.070 WHIP) while Pitcher #2 twice led the league in home runs allowed (50 in 1986, 46 in 1987).

The main difference between these two pitchers is that only one of them had Bert Blyleven campaigning undyingly on his behalf (Pitcher #2 who, obviously, is Bert Blyleven).

Pitcher #1 is Jim Kaat, whose lack of Hall of Fame attention and similarity to Blyleven’s career shows you just how subjective, nebulous and esoteric the whole process is.

You know who when you were a kid and you wanted a Polo shirt so you could look like a “cool kid,” but your mother bought you some knock-off like Knights of the Round Table, and you wore it to school anyway hoping nobody would notice you were wearing a knock-off Polo, but of course someone did notice and it you got laughed at, and when you got home you threw the shirt on the bottom of the closet never to be worn again? Bert Blyleven is that shirt. Kinda looks like the real thing (a Hall of Famer) but after closer inspection it belongs in the dustbin of history.

On to more positive things.

So Roberto Alomar wasn’t a Hall of Famer last year, but this year gets 90% of the vote? Did they discover a statistical deficiency wherein he was credited with 50 more homers, 10 points on his average and numerous humanitarian awards? No, it’s just the First Ballot Police releasing their latest victim, another year older and deeper in debt.

This is committee thinking at its finest. I guess the BBWAA can’t just usher any player in to the Hall of Fame, they need a raison d’etre, right. What are they going to do when the time comes, in the foreseeable future no less, when the ballot is nothing but Steroid Era guys? 2012 is a real thin year for newly eligible players (Carl Everett and Bill Mueller!) but 2013 is an explosion, with Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio and Royce Clayton, woops. Add that to holdovers Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, and those coming up, Gary Sheffield, Miguel Tejada, Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and it’s a morass of bulging veins and roid rages. Not that all these guys were users, mind you, just that they are all Steroid Era guys, and the taint of that epoch stains all.

Are the writers going to carefully eek out “clean player” elections so as to ensure at least one non-PED guy every year. Off the top of my head Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Pedro Martinez, Ken Griffey Jr, Chipper Jones, Curt Schilling Vladimir Guerrero and Frank Thomas are the only untainted elite-level players coming down the pike for some time, and who’s to say some of them didn’t use?

A friend of mine suggested that all the Steroid Era guys should be allowed into the Hall of Fame. Give them their own room, but instead of a plaque each of them gets a syringe on the wall and when you push in the plunger a hologram of a plaque appears and, as you read it, it slowly fades away. I’m in. This sounds like something Mark Cuban could take care of.

Quick hits on some other voting totals…

One is the loneliest number, except for these players that got no votes:  Carlos Baerga, Lenny Harris, Bobby Higginson, Charles Johnson, Raul Mondesi and Kirk Rueter. Tip – if you start an ironic movement to get yourself elected you’ll scare up a couple votes.

The three players on this ballot that I feel are definitely going to get in eventually, Barry Larkin (62.1%), Tim Raines (37.5%) and Jeff Bagwell (41.7%) will all deal with the same set of issues.

Larkin is methodically yet quickly climbing the ladder. It will be interesting to see what happens to Larkin if he does not get in next year, as then he is dealing with the aforementioned stiff competition. Like Raines and Bagwell, he could get lost.

The other question is:  Will the writers vote for suspected PED users, and if they don’t will they put their mark next to players they wouldn’t have previously voted for as a reaction to the inflated numbers of the Steroid Era?

How sentiment sways in both these scenarios could well determine the fate of these three, although the number Bagwell put up in his first year virtually guarantees enshrinement so, whatever.

Fred McGriff holds strong with 104 votes (17.9%). Somewhere the Crime Dog smiles.

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