Bert Blyleven is many things. An excellent pitcher, a fair broadcaster and someone who follows through on his bets to name three. Is he also a master of manipulation?
Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press is of that opinion. Blyleven had his head shaved by Johan Santana after betting the Cy Young winner that he wouldn't throw a complete game shutout against the Mets. Santana did just that on Tuesday and Blyleven complied to the terms of the wager. But was there more to it than that?
It was suggested to Blyleven on Thursday that the national attention he has received after losing a good-natured bet to pitcher Johan Santana this week, resulting in a shaved head for the Twins TV analyst, might in some crazy way remind Hall of Fame voters that he's still around - and still not in Cooperstown.
Blyleven isn't buying it.
"I don't think so," Blyleven said. "C'mon; my numbers speak for themselves, not a shaved head. If that's what it takes, then they're not very good baseball people anyway, because I should be in the Hall of Fame. My numbers do speak for themselves."
We're with Blyleven on this one. The fact that the Hall voters haven't seen fit to include him among the ranks of the enshrined has little to do with the fact that he's got hair on his head. It's got more to do with his failure to get to the arbitrary 300 win plateau established for starting pitchers and Bert's bad luck in pitching for some bad teams during his major league career and the lack of a remarkable Cy Young season. He's fifth all-time in strikeouts, ninth in shutouts and won 287 games and two World Series, to boot. Of the 10 pitchers most similar to Blyleven in baseball history, eight are in the Hall and none of them had to shave their head to get there.
(AP Photo/ Courtesy of FSN North)