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Jon Heyman is clever

Jon Heyman on the HOF ballot:

Bert Blyleven is one Cooperstown candidate who stirs a lot of emotion, sometimes from folks who barely saw him pitch and instead spent the past 10 years with their heads buried in a stat book.

I don't own a stat book, I don't think. I feel left out. I'm also disappointed that Heyman didn't make some reference to Blyleven supporters living in their mothers' basements.

Anyway...Heyman passes on Blyleven because:

Blyleven did some great things in his career, and he pitched a lot of dominating games. Yet he never had a truly dominating season. He threw 60 shutouts -- but won 20 games only once in an era when 20-game winners weren't nearly so rare as they are today.

Blyleven lasted a long time, long enough to have been the youngest player in the majors when he broke in as a Twin and the oldest when he bowed out as an Angel. As an Angels beat reporter in the late '80s, I was a traveling writer who covered Blyleven's last great year, when I recall him as the cutup of a surprising 1989 California Angels team. He also managed to go 17-5.

I do admire Blyleven's talent, and his longevity as well. But I still think Blyleven falls into that group of great compilers who weren't quite great enough players to make Cooperstown.

Dumb argument, as I've said before.

But then, Heyman turns around and has Jack Morris #2 on his ballot:

2. Jack Morris. The ace of three World Series teams, it's an abomination he may never get in. Morris made 14 Opening Day starts, tied with Steve Carlton, Randy Johnson, Walter Johnson and Cy Young, behind only Tom Seaver's 16 (the others already are or will be in Cooperstown). Also pitched the greatest game of the past 25 years, winning Game 7 of the 1991 World Series 1-0 in 10 innings against a young John Smoltz. The only two reasons I can think of for him not making it are: 1) he got hit hard his final couple years and finished with a 3.90 ERA, and 2) he was no charmer. Neither is a good enough reason to omit him. His impact was great.

I'm starting to think that being a jerk to the media is a plus for guys with marginal HOF candidacies. Someone like Morris, or Jim Rice, is deservedly left off a ton of ballots, and their backers start screaming that the player is being blackballed because they weren't cooperative with the media. That starts a backlash that gets the player more support than he would have otherwise.


The argument that Morris's final few years unfairly skewed his ERA is specious. If you end his career in 1991 (the year of "the greatest game of the past 25 years"), he has a 3.71 ERA, which would be good for a 109 ERA+ instead of a 105 ERA+.

Of course, that's still inferior to Blyleven's 3.30 career ERA and 118 career ERA+.

No dominant seasons? He had 7 top 5 finishes in ERA, and 7 top 5 finishes in WHIP.

Morris, by comparison, had just 2 top finishes in ERA and WHIP, and then just barely, finishing 5th both times in ERA, and 4th and 5th in WHIP.

Strikeouts? Morris led the league once, and was in the top 5 four times.

Blyleven also led the league once...but he was in the top 5 thirteen times.

What about Morris's incredible postseason performances? 13 games, 92 innings, a 7-4 record and a 3.80 ERA?

Well, Blyleven pitched in 8 postseason games, starting 6, had 47 innings, and was 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA.

Even in the postseason -- the category which Morris supporters view as their trump card -- Blyleven was better.

HOF voters voting for Morris, and not Blyleven, is embarrassing and inexcusable. There is no rational justification for it.

And Heyman opting to go take shots at Blyleven's supporters, the way he did today, suggests that he knows it.