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Quote of the Day: Heyman on Bert Blyleven

Jan 3, 2011, 1:57 PM EDT


Jon Heyman wrote one of those New Year’s Resolutions-style columns, in which he put voice to what he wishes 50 baseball figures would think heading into 2011.  Here’s his entry for Bert Blyleven:

I will consider myself fortunate when I am voted into the Hall of Fame, and understand that while I had a great career, I am not Tom Seaver or Steve Carlton but rather Don Sutton and Phil Niekro, near-great pitchers who were borderline candidates that gained enshrinement, and I will thank the small coterie of Internet zealots who kept calling attention to the value of strikeouts, shutouts, complete games, longevity and durability and helped me rise from 14 percent of the votes in my second year of eligibility to more than 75 percent and act gracefully upon hearing the expected good news.

Yes. Blyleven should act gracefully.  Mercy.

UPDATE:  Heyman has been defending the above passage over at his Twitter feed.  His claim: he was merely comparing Blyleven to Sutton and Neikro and, my word, how can that be a slam, because those guys were great?  In this he’s missing the point entirely.  We see this by merely changing what he wrote from the first person of Blyleven to a third person account reflecting what are obviously Heyman’s own feelings. Ask yourself: what would you think if Heyman had written this:

Memo to Blyleven: consider yourself fortunate that you’re getting voted into the Hall of Fame, and understand that while you had a great career, you are not Tom Seaver or Steve Carlton but rather Don Sutton and Phil Niekro. You — like them — were a near-great pitcher who was a borderline candidate that gained enshrinement. You should thank the small coterie of Internet zealots who kept calling attention to the value of strikeouts, shutouts, complete games, longevity and durability and helped you rise from 14 percent of the vote in your second year of eligibility to more than 75 percent. And you should act gracefully upon hearing the expected good news.

That’s nothing short of obnoxious.  And it’s nothing different than what he wrote in the first place.



  1. Adam - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    “and I will thank the small coterie of Internet zealots who kept calling attention to the value of strikeouts, shutouts, complete games, longevity and durability”

    Isn’t that EXACTLY what you want out of a pitcher?

    I’ll be happy when Blyleven gets in simply because I’m sick of hearing about his candidacy and just want it to go away.

  2. billtpa - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    It’s just so obvious that he has something personal against Blyleven. This is the kind of unprofessional quality-free garbage that, in most other jobs, gets a person fired.

  3. IdahoMariner - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    that is the rudest thing I’ve read in quite some time. what a tool. wow. that … that’s just tacky.

  4. josephabernard - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    A friend of mine overheard Heyman on MLBTV this morning saying:

    “Yeah, Nolan Ryan was only a couple games over .500, but he didn’t always get the run support he should have. Especially those tough years with Houston.”

    Really Heyman? Really?

  5. leokitty - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    I realize Heyman is at least partially trolling for attention with this stuff but it really makes him look like an unreasonable buffoon especially considering that he is so adamantly pro-Jack Morris.

    • JM Lattanzi - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:13 PM

      You beat me to it. I was going to comment the irony of his pro-Morris, but anti-Blyleven stand.

  6. BC - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    Heyman is….. wait for it….wait for it………..a chipwich.

  7. paperlions - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    I don’t think Heyman has personal dislike for Blyleven. I think he is just incapable of admitting when he is wrong.

  8. paperlions - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    Heyman is the Christian Scientist of HOF voters. He starts with his conclusions and then starts hunting for the evidence to support those conclusions.

  9. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    I think Blyleven has unfortunately become a symbol more than a baseball player. It seems like modern writers view a vote for him is a concession that the Internet Geeks are right, as opposed to being a vote for a very good player getting his due.

  10. Andrew - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Yes. Blyleven should act gracefully. Mercy.

    Did Hawk Harrelson briefly take over this post?

    • BC - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:20 PM

      Or Roy Orbison.
      Oops. Wait a minute. He’s dead. Scratch that.

  11. IdahoMariner - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    So I went and read the whole thing…wow, again. What an unremitting piece of pomposity. The Blyleven item was so…immature. I am reminded of an eight-year-old who tries to ruin his little sister’s joy at kicking in the winning goal at soccer by saying that the goalie didn’t even try to block it…which is classic eight-year-old/big brother behavior, but is patently ridiculous in an adult, one who is supposed to be a professional. What a complete lack of class.

  12. aformy - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    Look at Heyman’s resolution for Mark Buehrle. Ironic?

  13. Jonny 5 - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Heyman is a classic douchebag, err nozzle, sorry el bravo….

    If I were Byleven, on the very day I’m inducted, I’d find Heyman and kick the living sh!t out of him. Then I’d laugh. Seriously though, Byleven didn’t make it personal, Heyman did.

    ” I will thank the small coterie of Internet zealots who kept calling attention to the value of strikeouts, shutouts, complete games, longevity and durability ”

    What kind of idiot doesn’t vote for a pitcher based on these premises anyway? Along with other facts about performance. Yes, Facts. They don’t lie.

    • woodenulykteneau - Jan 3, 2011 at 2:52 PM

      I, for one, would be willing to supply the milkcrate for Heyman to stand on so Blyleven can look him in the eye and tell him off.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 3, 2011 at 4:27 PM

        You know Burt dreams of a day where he can get away with whooping up on Heyman, and good. If it were the 1800’s a duel would be called for. And Burt has pretty good aim from what I’ve seen.

  14. thelucasjj - Jan 3, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    This article was a softball for Craig. Not only does Heyman make this idiotic comment about Blyleven, but he also throws in a “the best shape of his line” about Fielder.

    This whole piece by Heyman comes off arrogant and makes him look like a pompous a$$.

  15. wonkypenguin - Jan 3, 2011 at 4:13 PM

    My wish for Jon Heyman:
    I will consider myself fortunate to have a Hall of Fame vote, and understand that while I am allowed a place to write, I am not Joe Posnanski or Craig Calcaterra but rather Murray Chass and Joe Morgan, interesting “journalists” and “broadcasters” who were borderline nuts that gained a strange internet following thereby increasing their relativity by 300%. I will thank the small coterie of old baseball guys who kept calling attention to the value of my “having been there,” “own memory,” “gut feeling,” and “longevity allowing me to be a member of the BBWAA” and helped me rise from 14 clicks a day in my second year of eligibility to more than 75 clicks per day and act gracefully upon hearing the expected good news that I will be allowed to cover the Hall of Fame induction ceremony of one, Bert Blyleven.

    • ta192 - Jan 3, 2011 at 5:19 PM

      Sorta sez it all…

    • IdahoMariner - Jan 3, 2011 at 7:00 PM


  16. dondbaseball - Jan 3, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    I concur with Adam that I will be happy when Bert gets enshrined because this will be over and done with. I was on the fence about Blyleven but was swayed by his ERA+ and the fact he achieved all those strikeouts with 3 different types of hellacious curve balls to compliment a slightly above average fastball.

    I also agree with Wonkypenguin that Heyman is sounding more like Chass and Morgan but I am hopeful that he has the capacity to evolve by at least acknowledging that Blyleven does have stats at least equal to (I think much better than) Sutton and Niekro.

    I will however still agree that sometimes, you need to see players on a day to day basis to get a feel for who is truly great and who is just a stat compiler. Sutton/Niekro were stat compilers just like Biggio was and he will get lots of support though I believe Kent to be better.

    • largebill - Jan 3, 2011 at 11:25 PM


      You among others say compiler as though it is a dirty word. Compiling stats merely means accomplishing a lot during one’s career. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the accomplishments of players with an extremely high peak who don’t last forever (Koufax, Pujols if he retired tomorrow, etc.), players who are good and durable for a long time but never the very best in the game (Sutton, Brock, Matthews, etc) , and players who were close to being very best and close to hitting milestones.

      What I’m saying is quantity has value in a different way than quality is valued. Koufax is a legitimate HoF pitcher. Blyleven contributed much more over the course of his career. Koufax had a few better seasons and Blyleven had a much better career. Koufax had more black ink & Blyleven had more gray ink. One was at the top for a short while the other was near the top for a much longer time frame. Koufax gave his team 2,300 innings of 131ERA+. Blyleven gave his teams 4,900 innings (more than twice as much) of 118 ERA+.

  17. Glenn - Jan 3, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    Let’s put Heyman and Skip Bayless on an island and let them fight for each other’s attention.

    • Adam - Jan 3, 2011 at 11:57 PM

      Can we just put them on an island…and leave?

  18. cjvirnig - Jan 4, 2011 at 11:31 AM

    Jon Heyman just isn’t that good of a baseball writer. I read most of his columns but usually wind up disagreeing with what he says a lot of the time. Part of my dislike is that Heyman is one of those through and through east coast bias guys. Being that I grew up a Twins fan in Minneapolis, and now live in Los Angeles, it’s very easy to see pro-Yankee writers from a mile away. Heyman writes in a Yankee-centric frame of mind, i.e. the baseball universe revolves around the Yankees and any story, no matter what it’s about, can (and usually is) brought full circle to include the Yankees somehow.

    The other thing that I dislike about Heyman is that he injects too much politics into his writing. And I don’t mean just the annual Hall of Fame discussion (where many writers inject politics). Heyman clearly has his likes and dislikes in terms of teams and players and he makes damn sure you know about it in his columns.

    He’s a talented guy with a lot of sources, but he’s just not particularly enjoyable to read.

  19. lampdwellr - Jan 4, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    There was a post here on HBT a few days ago about Blyleven and the way he’s been read by the media throughout his career. I’m looking at old NY Times articles (many by Murray Chass) about various things about Blyleven, and hating the guy seems to have been a kind of standard view of the era.

    Here’s a paragraph from when he was signed from the Pirates by the Indians:

    “Blyleven, *who has never performed up to expectations,* had a 8-13 record last season. But he was unhappy all year, having left the team for 10 days in April [complaining about being hooked too early]. The Indians will be his fourth team in his 11-year career, and they will pick up a contract that has four years to run.”

    Here’s a paragraph from “The Pitching Prime of Bert Blyleven of Indians,” April 22, 1981. Note what his TEAMMATES say.

    “‘I’d have to say the biggest difference in the staff this year is Blyleven,’ Spillner said. ‘He wants to go out and win and pitch a complete game doing it. We’ve all caught his spirit. His competitiveness.'”

    Now notice what the press say. Same article.

    “Although Blyleven has won a great many close games, he has lost perhaps more than his share. And over the course of his career, Blyleven, unlike most of the top pitchers of today, has a worse overall percentage than the teams he has played on.”
    (This particular statistic was actually not false, but it wasn’t very accurately portrayed)

    It goes on with a quote from Rod Carew (noted for threatening to boycott if Blyleven isn’t elected) about how you can adjust to Blyleven’s tempo…but he was probably talking about Bert as a rookie/first-few-years pitcher.

    The press just did not understand this guy.

  20. Adam - Jan 4, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    I just noticed this awful piece in his article:
    “Zack Greinke. I will give 100 percent every time out now that I am part of a team trying to win this year. And I will refrain from saying anything bad about the Royals because ultimately they did right by me.”

    When is he saying that Greinke gave up on the Royals? He hasn’t said anything negative about the Royals (other than their time line for winning doesn’t match his) and, from all I’ve seen, gives it his all every outing. That’s some shoddy writing, even for him.

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