While Bert Blyleven's statistics have remained unchanged since he retired after the 1992 season, better understandings of advanced pitching metrics and the context of his work have helped Blyleven's standing over time. The 22 year veteran received 74.2% of the vote in 2010 and is widely anticipated to be elected this year. Blyleven is in now his 14th year on the Hall of Fame ballot and certainly has had his supporters and detractors over time, but I'll tell you here on Around the Horn what I said to Bert himself the last time we spoke.
"The voters who think you should be in are a lot more passionate about the fact that you should be in than the voters who don't think you deserve the honor."
Bert's election, should it occur this year, will be a major victory for the SABRmetric community and further evidence that many baseball fans, pundits and writers are able to think about the game differently than they did a generation ago. I did not cast my vote for Blyleven and I have stated my reasons, but I can't say that those who are voting for him are wrong. The bar for me is higher than it is for some voters (not all), as evidenced by some of the players that have been voted in.
Some say that the Hall of Fame is "watered down" and others say the Hall of Fame's standards have been lowered. While I am in the camp that the Hall of Fame has become a "watered down" fraternity over time, I am not in the camp that says the Hall of Fame's standards have been lowered as the HOF doesn't put players in, the voters do. I don't think anyone is right or wrong on the Blyleven issue, I think it's simply a matter of opinion. No one that votes for him would claim that he dominated the game at any point and no one that didn't vote for him would claim that he didn't deserve serious consideration. And while I wouldn't be upset in the least bit if Blyleven got in, I would be quite upset (although respectful) if Jack Morris got in and Blyleven did not.
There has been a lot of talk about my view of what a Hall of Famer is and whether or not it's realistic. To me, whether you saw the player or not, if the consensus is that the player dominated his peers when he played the game for a reasonable period of time, the guy is Hall of Famer. If you say "that's simply too cut and dry and what's the point of voting as only the obvious would get in", well that's not really true as the debate then shifts to whether the player was dominant or not, and was the dominance long enough.
There are those who say that I'm trying to create my own version of what I think the Hall should be and not what the Hall actually is. I completely understand that point of view and that's what makes the voting process fair, everyone has their own opinion of what a Hall of Fame player is to them, and in the end, the mass consensus will win out. While I think there are many players who are in the Hall of Fame that should not be, I'm not bitter about any one of them who were voted in. It's no different than the Presidential election for me, if my guy doesn't win, I will accept the fact that the masses felt differently than I did, and concede that I had a minority opinion, agree to disagree, and respect the winner. If Blyleven gets in, I will be there applauding him just as I will for the ones I voted for. In fact, while I would be disenchanted, if Morris was to get in and Blyleven did not, I would stand and applaud none the less and respect the achievement as recognized by the masses.
I mentioned about not being bitter about those who were voted in. I know what you're thinking, "so he's not happy with the Veterans committee appointed players." No, I am not. To me, that's simply a process whereby a candidate wasn't able to get in with the masses voting on his credentials and the members of the fraternity over ruling them. That's the procedure however and I won't be so disrespectful as to jump up and down screaming about it, I don't have to like it. - Paul Leume
Paul is a MLB columnist from Montreal, Canada. Paul, a one-time beat writer covering the Montreal Expos for the Montreal Gazette is a proud grandfather of 3 girls and now spends his time offering his thoughts and prospective on Major League Baseball on a variety of blogs and websites throughout Al Gore's internet.
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