Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Why I'm Happy for Bert Blyleven, and other Hall of Fame Musings

Well, it's finally happened. After 14 long years on the Hall of Fame ballot, Rik Aalbert "Bert" Blyleven has finally polled 75% of the vote and will be making his long overdue entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame. For many, this is a triumph of a new way of looking at pitchers that focuses less on wins and losses and more on factors that pitchers can control: preventing runs and the runners that can score them. And even though I'm way too big of a fan of pitching wins than I should be, I couldn't be more ecstatic. I've been pulling for Bert's election as far back as 1999. But why, you may ask, have I been rooting for a guy who retired before I was even aware of baseball; one who had less than 15% of the vote in the year I started hoping for his election? To find the answer, you'd have to go back to 1993, five years before Bert's ballot debut.

I was only eight years old back then. Prior to that, the only thing I knew about baseball was the fact that it existed, and that they made cards of baseball players, which were pretty cool. My first major dose came that summer. First of all, one of my father's friends took my dad, my sister, and me to see a Royals game.* The other was that my sister and I somehow came into possession of about 100 or so baseball cards from 1993.

*The only thing I remember about the game was that the Royals beat the Orioles 7-1, and that Royals legend George Brett, one of the few players that I knew, did not play that day. To this day, my sister still likes to point out the fact that I was rooting for the Orioles that day, even though right now the Royals are one of my favorite teams and the Orioles are one of my least favorite. Of course, back then I didn't know who the teams were. I just rooted for the Orioles because my sister was rooting for the Royals. It's what siblings do. Of course, now they both suck.