Yesterday, I heard another person talking about whether Curt Schilling should be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Everytime I hear that question, or when people ask whether Tom Glavine should be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he retires, I see red.

It’s time to dispense with the niceties.

As a Twins fan, I don’t know how people can talk about Curt Schilling without first talking about the disgrace the BBWWA heaps on itself because they haven’t inducted Bert Blyleven & Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame already. It isn’t that I think Tom Glavine & Curt Schilling aren’t HoF-worthy. It’s that I’m certain that Bert Blyleven & Jack Morris are worthy.

Let’s examine things from a statistical perspective. Bert Blyleven struck out 3,701 hitters over a 22 year career, a figure that’s still in the top 5 all time, even surpassing the great Walter Johnson’s totals by almost 200. He threw 60 shutouts, which still is in the top 10 all-time. He threw 242 complete games, far outdistancing Mr. Glavine’s or Mr. Schilling’s statistics.

That’s before we start talking about his curveball, which, when he was on, was simply unhittable. Other than Nolan Ryan’s fastball, Bert’s curveball was the dominant pitch of his era.

That’s before talking about his 287 wins & his winning 2 World Championships. That’s before talking about all the wins he would’ve gotten had he played on good teams all his career. Had he played on his era’s equivalent of the Yankees or the Braves, you’d likely be talking about adding an additional 50 wins over his career.

Jack Morris is also Hall-worthy. Baseball writers like talking about Schilling being HoF-worthy because of his bloody sock game in the ALCS. There’s no denying that that was one of the great games of postseason history. There’s also no denying that it pales in comparison to Jack Morris’s complete game, 130-pitch, 7-hit shutout masterpiece of the Braves in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. I’ll admit that I’m biased because I’m a Twins fan who watched every pitch of that game. That said, that isn’t Mr. Morris’s only qualification.

Mr. Morris won 3 World Series chanpionships. Each time, he was the ace of the staff. He also finished his career with 254 wins, nearly 70 games above .500.

As much as Mssrs. Blyleven & Morris deserve to induction into the Hall of Fame, they pale in comparison to Tony Oliva’s credentials. Tony O is the only player in history to win the batting title his rookie season. To prove it wasn’t a fluke, he demolished the so-called Sophomore jinx to repeat as AL batting champion.

Tony O was the greatest hitter I’ve ever watched. That’s significant because I watched Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett & Joe Mauer on an almost daily basis. While those names don’t match Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio & Mantle, they aren’t chopped liver either.

To this day, Rod Carew will state without hesitation that Tony O was his hitting mentor. That alone should be Hall-worthy.

That’s before talking about his winning 3 batting titles in his career. That’s before talking about his winning a Gold Glove for defensive excellence.

The reason why Tony hasn’t been inducted into Cooperstown is because, in August, 1968, he suffered a debilitating knee injury. He wasn’t the same since. Nonetheless, he still rebounded to win another batting title. Had they invented arthroscopic surgery before that time, he probably would’ve put up spectacular numbers, possibly even gawdy, numbers.

As it was, Tony O still averaged 170 hits per full season, certainly an impressive figure.

It isn’t a stretch to say that Tony Oliva was one of the top 25 hitters of all time, which certainly should qualify him for Cooperstown alone. Mix in his 3 batting titles & his Gold Glove & you’ve got solid Hall of Fame credentials.

It’s time that the idiots in the BBWWA stopped asking whether Curt Schilling should be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer & finally correct the injustice they’ve visited upon Mssrs. Oliva, Blyleven & Morris.

Anything less is unacceptable.

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4 Responses to “Let’s Dispense With the Niceties”

  • Mr. D says:

    I agree with you — Bert pitched for some really bad teams and that hurt his chances. 60 shutouts is the number that really pops out for me.

    Morris loses support because his ERA is high, but there’s little question that he was the best overall pitcher in the 1980s and one of the best big-game pitchers ever.

    I’d also suggest that Jim Kaat and Tommy John both deserve more consideration than they’ve received.

    No argument on Oliva, either.

    If you haven’t done so, read Bill James’s book “The Politics of Glory,” which is an elegant takedown of the Hall of Fame and the strange standards in play.

  • Gary Gross says:

    I haven’t read Mr. James’ book but I can’t say that I’m surprised.

    An argument I should’ve made with Tony O is the stats. The BBWWA voted Sandy Koufax into the HoF evenb though his career was cut short. They voted for him because of what he did before injuries ended his career.

    How’s that different than Tony Os career?

  • walter hanson says:

    Gary:

    No offense to Tony O, but Koufax when healthy carried the Dodgers to the world series. 63 healthy Dodgers get to world series. 64 hurt dodgers have bad season. 65 despite the dodgers having no offense they win a world serier.

    That’s what reporters remembered. Note the Twins only had one world series which they lost during the streatch of 1964-1970 not exactly a dominating stretch like Koufax had.

    Blyeven and Morris are hurt because the writers are too stupid to realize what a long and consistent career achieved. That’s why Cy Young had so many wins.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

  • Gary Gross says:

    Note that I didn’t say Tony O was better than Koufax. I merely stated that the BBWWA has made exceptions for induction when the numbers weren’t gawdy.

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