As expected, Bert Blyleven once again missed the Hall of Fame in this year's balloting, with the lone new entry being former relief pitcher Bruce Sutter. While Bert was a lot closer to the necessary 75% vote that is needed to gain entry than he has been in the past, he is still pretty far off at 53.3%. This is disheartening, because despite Blyleven's great accomplishments it seems he will always be viewed as a borderline player whose stats were good but just not quite good enough. This seems fairly absurd to me because he is fifth all-time in strikeouts, has 287 career wins, and has more shutouts than Clemens and Pedro (HoF locks) combined. It really frustrates me that he didn't get in this year, especially with Jayson Stark, Jim Caple, and Bob Klapisch, among others, all writing well-publicized articles stating why they have changed their mind on Blyleven and voted for him after not voting for him in the past. I also heard Peter Gammons making the same claim on ESPN Radio this morning. With this many highly respectable baseball minds giving him endorsement, it is rather amazing to me that Bert was not able to gain entry and that some people are still so blind to his phenomenal career. No, Bert was not always the most consistent winner in his career, but that is only one aspect of his game. Was Ozzie Smith ever one of the league's best hitters? Was Cal Ripken ever one of the league's best sluggers? Blyleven was one of the most dominant pitchers in league history, he helped two teams capture World Series championships, and he is generally just a very nice and likable guy (which I think should be worth somthing).
There probably won't be much hope for Bert next year, as Ripken, Tony Gwynn and Mark McGwire will likely be making the biggest splash as first-timers. Fortunately, as Ken Rosenthal notes, the window for Bert will open again in 2008 and '09 as the first-time classes in both of those years will be fairly weak.
Meanwhile, Rob Neyer makes a pretty compelling argument as to why relievers should rightfully have a tougher time gaining entry to the Hall than starters or everyday players.
Couple other things to note:
*The Twins signed left-hander Darrell May, who pitched for the Royals for three seasons and spent most of last year with the Padres, to a minor league deal. May, 33, has not had a very prolific career, and he doesn't have the dominant stuff that would indicate that he is a very good candidate for the left-handed relief spot. He has also never been a full-time reliever in his career. May's best season was in 2003, when he posted a 3.77 ERA for the Royals, but outside of that he has never had an ERA under 5 in a season. Still, Terry Ryan apparently thinks May will end up in the Twins bullpen.
"Ultimately, we're going to put him in the bullpen," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "I know he had a tough year last year, but he's always had some success against us."
Yeah, so has Steve Sparks but I don't think we need to go out and sign him to our 'pen.
*Having acquired Corey Koskie from the Blue Jays, the Brewers designated third baseman Russell Branyan for assignment. Branyan is nothing too special, but might be worth a look for the Twins as a contingency plan should Tony Batista fail to produce. He has only a .232 career average, but he's got decent power and also has experience at first base and in the outfield.
*The Twins are now trying to void their lease on the Metrodome. I agree with Stick and Ball Guy's take on this one. I'd love to see the Twins get a new stadium, but they need to stop whining and continue to develop new ideas for how to get it done.