Bert has been circled; Bert's in Bly-'11; Happy Bert-day; etc.
I took this photo at an autograph session at my local Menards. He was giving my son rabbit ears.
Along with Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven has been - finally - elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I'm very happy for him. I have to admit that, even though everyone expected this year to finally be the year, I was worried. I've seen a lot of writers strut all over the internet proudly proclaiming why they didn't vote for Bert. But he made it. It's a good thing I'm not a voter because I don't think I could look at his qualifications with an impartial eye. I wanted him in because I like him.
I still believe that the voting process is fundamentally flawed, but I'm less indignant about it now because my guy got in. I also believe that they still didn't get it completely right (*ahem* Barry Larkin); I'm not sure they ever will. Which, I guess, is the point -- it's supposed to be hard, very hard, to get into the Hall of Fame.
I noticed a couple of shifts in the voting process this year. First, the digital age is having an increasing impact. Many writers post articles on internet forums, inviting readers to comment. Never before have the average fans' voices been considered to this extent. All this conversation is a great, and increasingly necessary, component. Bert wouldn't have been voted in if it weren't for the groundswell of intelligent fans getting the writers' attention with appropriate stats. But with a growing and increasingly accessible platform, I fear the writers may develop into self-important clods (more so than they already are). The more internet feedback these writers get, the bigger their egos, and the more they are going to use their HOF vote as an opportunity for selfish bloviating. "Look at me: I'm so important/clever/awesome because I refuse to vote for a guy who deserves it, but I decided the attention is better." I hope the vast majority of writers continue to take their votes seriously.
More seriously, the shadow of the steroid era is continuing to loom, and it will for many years. It's not an easy thing to think about, and there are more hard questions than good answers. It's one thing for voters to leave Mark McGwire off their ballots; his stats before he purportedly took enhancements weren't all that great. But I read that several voters couldn't bring themselves to vote for Jeff Bagwell because they "just didn't know if he did or didn't." Well, that's hardly fair -- the only evidence against him is that he was good. And it's going to get harder. What to do about Barry Bonds? Or Roger Clemens? They were amazing players. But you can't ignore the alleged boost. There's no clear path for future voters.
But today is a happy day for Bert and Roberto. Two great players, indeed. Congratulations!