Blyleven on Felix

DMZ · August 12, 2005 at 8:00 am · Filed Under General baseball, Mariners 

Nice interview at Baseball Analysts with someone who started out as young and had a great career.


33 Responses to “Blyleven on Felix”

  1. Steve Thornton on August 12th, 2005 8:10 am

    Bert doesn’t think much of pitch counts, does he? Maybe that’s why he’s not a highly-sought-after pitching coach. For every Blyleven who survived the early workload there are several dozen David Clydes who didn’t.

  2. Dave on August 12th, 2005 8:38 am

    Blyleven is obviously of the “prove it to me” mentality. I’d argue (and heck, I have, for the past several weeks) that Felix is an elite major league pitcher right now. If you had to win one game tomorrow, and you were going through the list of possible starting pitchers, Felix would under consideration for that spot.

    Blyleven wants to see Felix win 200 games before he acknowledges his greatness. I say we acknowledge the fact that we experience his greatness every five days from now until he stops pitching.

  3. sodo on August 12th, 2005 8:47 am

    I’m just trying to map out Felix’s next few starts to try and be able to drive up on a weekend (coming from Tri-cities). Here is what I think is probably going to happen:

    Mon. 15 – KC
    Sat. 20 – @MIN
    Fri. 26 – ChiSox

    I know it is too early to know exactly what the M’s will do, but since they have a day off after the projected Minnesota start, they may skip the Harris/Franklin spot in the rotation and pitch Felix on 4 days rest against Texas (25th in Texas).

    I am just kind of wondering what is the probability that Felix starts on the 25th or 26th, because if it is the 26th against the ChiSox at home I will definitely get tickets for that game.

    Thanks for the help.

  4. Rusty on August 12th, 2005 9:06 am

    Very interesting use of pronouns in this comment by Bert:
    I hope there are more 300-game winners in the future for baseball. That means that individual, whoever he or she would be, will have the love of the game to stay at it for a lot of years. That will only help promote baseball in the coming years.

  5. dw on August 12th, 2005 9:07 am

    Blyleven wants to see Felix win 200 games before he acknowledges his greatness.

    A Cy Young would probably do. Besides, if 200 wins == greatness, then why mention Koufax at all?

  6. mara on August 12th, 2005 9:29 am

    Wow, he rubbed me completely the wrong way. I’m all for letting Felix prove how good he is before we judge his career, but Blyleven seemed determined to rain on the parade AND talk himself up at every possible turn.

    I wish I could sit down with every writer that doesn’t vote for me for the Hall of Fame. … My career numbers rank with the great pitchers in the game in every category.

    Thpbbb to him.

  7. Evan on August 12th, 2005 9:33 am

    Blyleven’s right about one thing. He belongs in the Hall of Fame.

  8. Mike L on August 12th, 2005 9:40 am

    If I were Rich I would have kept bringing up more pitchers to compare to Felix. Bert-how do you think Felix compares to Tim Wakefield? How about Terry Mulholland?


  9. Phil on August 12th, 2005 9:56 am

    I agree with #6. He came off as being completely cold about Felix. Was he bitter that his precious Twins had just been destroyed by the King? What a jerk.

  10. petec on August 12th, 2005 10:11 am

    Bert seems to be of the “I walked 10 miles to school each day, unhill in both directions” type.

  11. petec on August 12th, 2005 10:11 am

    Uh, make that “uphill”.

  12. Mike L on August 12th, 2005 10:17 am

    Granted, Blyleven’s right in saying we shouldn’t be so quick to compare Felix to the elites, and he still has a lot to prove. But why so bitter Bert?

  13. sparky on August 12th, 2005 10:20 am

    I think part of the problem is that Rich Lederer has an unnatural level of man-love for Bert that has the effect of constantly encouraging Bert to talk himself up. Don’t get me wrong, he DEFINETLY belongs in the HOF, but it is really bizaare just how openly he campaigns for himself. I’d much prefer to see him take the Tony Olivia (I think) approach, basically saying “if you idiot voters haven’t figured it out by now I want no part of this silly little club.” Oh yeah, and the King is nasty. Can’t wait for Monday.

  14. ballgame on August 12th, 2005 10:42 am

    FYI :: Game-used Baseballs from Felix Hernandez’s MLB and Safeco Field Debut’s up for auction on the Mariner’s site.

  15. Deanna on August 12th, 2005 10:49 am

    Interesting interview.

    4: I agree. The use of “he or she” really struck me as odd, but cool.

    12: Well, if you had to spend your lifetime going around being known as “probably the best pitcher who isn’t in the Hall of Fame”, or the answer to obscure trivia questions like “What pitcher gave up the most home runs in a single season?”, you’d be bitter too.

    Maybe Bill James needs to write a new book about the politics of Cooperstown, but tilt it to be “Why the heck isn’t Bert Blyleven in the Hall of Fame?” rather than “Why the heck is Phil Rizzuto in the Hall of Fame?”

  16. J.R. on August 12th, 2005 10:56 am

    Did Bret come across as cocky to anyone else?

    He made excelnt points and I agree with most of them, but the way he worded things really made him sound like a cocky bastard to me.

  17. Mike L on August 12th, 2005 10:58 am

    15: If I had the privilege to spend my life playing the game I love, I wouldn’t be bitter. Boohoo Bert.

  18. DMZ on August 12th, 2005 11:02 am

    What if he doesn’t love playing baseball?

  19. Mike L on August 12th, 2005 11:10 am

    He played 22 years and is now broadcasting the sport. I bet he liked it.

    I would say he could have been a politician, but he hasn’t done a good job of convincing people to vote him into the HOF.

    He could have always been a beekeeper.

  20. John in L.A. on August 12th, 2005 11:15 am

    That interview seemed to be much more about Bert Blyleven than Felix Hernandez.

    I’m with Dave on this one. The Hall of Fame seems to have consumed his brain… so the only way he can think to measure greatness is longevity.

    No reason on earth Felix can’t be considered “great” right now.

    Doesn’t guarantee his career will pan out for twenty years… but he’s great right now.

  21. Nick on August 12th, 2005 11:23 am

    From in an article about Felix’s fantasy value for next year:

    Manager Mike Hargrove said Hernandez will get nine more starts this season, barring injury.

  22. Rich Lederer on August 12th, 2005 11:26 am

    Bert loved to play baseball. More than anything he loved to pitch. During the interview, he told me “I was a pitcher that loved to throw that baseball.” I think that is an honest assessment. He pitched in the big leagues for more than 20 years, overcoming a couple of arm problems during that period. In fact, he once threatened to retire when he felt that Chuck Tanner, his manager on the Pirates, was taking him out of games too early. Bert enjoyed pitching in the A.L. because the DH allowed him to pitch that much more.

    Bert wanted nothing more than to be given the rock every fourth day and an opportunity to throw a complete game every time out.

  23. DMZ on August 12th, 2005 11:28 am

    My thought was “would it be okay for him to do these things that annoy you if he didn’t like it?” rather than “perhaps Bert does not like baseball.”

    I should have been clearer.

  24. Raymond on August 12th, 2005 11:36 am

    that almost read like a Joe Morgan interview. I don’t have a problem with “waiting” to proclaim Felix as the “BESTEST PITCHER EVAR!!!1”, but what’s wrong with trying to compare him to other players? sheesh.

  25. ajp on August 12th, 2005 11:47 am


    Oh yea? Well, in my day, we had to walk clear across the living room to change the channel on the TV!

    Times change.

  26. Gary on August 12th, 2005 12:38 pm

    Well, when I was a kid we had to make our baseball shoes out of cardboard boxes and for shoelaces we had to use our own tendons! Plus you could get a heart transplant for $45.00!

    Blyleven has always been an egoistical pain in the butt (how’d you like to be teammates with a guy whose idea of a good joke is to set fire to your foot?) but he does meander toward one potentially defensible argument.

    I presume we all know not to get our hopes too high on career results because of potential arm injuries, and the game has definitely changed, but he might have a point about pitch count in the minors being set too low to build up sufficient arm strength. Any studies on that?

  27. DFC on August 12th, 2005 1:35 pm

    Maybe I read a different interview than some of you. Blyleven was clearly impressed with what he saw from Felix. He answered 5 or six questions about the King’s fastball, changeup, curveball, makeup/poise and had nothing but nice things to say. He isn’t ready to compare him to Bob Gibson. He does seem willing to say that he’s a promising young pitcher with great stuff. Is that unreasonable?

    To say that Blyleven demands that Hernandez “win 200 games before he acknowledges his greatness” is a straw man. Actually, Blyleven says, “let’s see how Felix does in his next start and how he finishes the season. Baseball has always compared this player to that player. Hernandez has made only two major-league starts. It’s not fair to him to start comparing him to Gooden or any other pitcher.” I imagine that he hasn’t followed the Mariners minor league system like some of you. He doesn’t have Felix’s MLE’s. He hasn’t been to a bunch of Everett and Inland Empire games and talked to scouts about Felix’s stuff. He saw one game, and liked what he saw. I don’t think it’s outside the bounds of reason for Blyleven to want to see how Felix does against a few (real) major league hitters before he calls him Doc, or Johan, or Bert.

    Also, Blyleven answered questions about Felix, and questions about his Hall of Fame candidacy. He didn’t hijack a USSM thread proclaiming the Second Coming of the King. He didn’t interrupt Rich Lederer’s questions about Felix to pimp himself for the Hall.

  28. Steve Thornton on August 12th, 2005 1:55 pm

    There’s not a damn thing wrong with Bert Blyleven. He’s just from a different time.

    I love the expression of the frankly idiotic idea that today’s players are only in it for the money, they don’t play for the love of the game, that’s why people don’t win 300 games anymore, yadda yadda. A complaint which in one form or another has been uttered by some old timer or another every year since 1876. The sight of Rickey Henderson still trying to fight his way back to the majors, for no money at all, when he’s already got enough money to last several lifetimes, should be enough to disprove that. Careers tend to be much longer now than before.

    What it really takes is not heart or desire or joy in the game, but a high level of talent, avoidance of injury, starting early, and staying late. Randy Johnson probably won’t win 300, not because he’s been lacking in any way, but because he didn’t pitch seriously in the majors until he was 25, and didn’t start pitching at a HoF level until he was 29. Likewise there are many, many great, great pitchers who haven’t or won’t make it because they can’t pitch into their 40s.

    Felix of course has a shot at it; starting as a teenager is a huge help. But he’s got a long way to go. That much, Bert has right.

  29. Paul Covert on August 12th, 2005 2:19 pm

    One interesting difference between Blyleven and Felix is that Blyleven was very much a flyball pitcher (430 career HRA, including 50 in one season– though he made up for it with great K-BB numbers), while Felix so far seems to be an extreme groundballer (as discussed on this site yesterday).

    (Trivia question: Bert Blyleven allowed the fewest career walks of any pitcher with at least 3508 strikeouts [the Walter Johnson number]. But who has both the most strikeouts-minus-walks and the highest K/BB ratio in the nine-member “3508 club”?)

  30. Rusty on August 12th, 2005 2:55 pm

    I was wondering if any pitcher matched K’s in one game with his age. Here it is…

    Hall of Famer Bob Feller, struck out 17 batters in a game as a 17 year old in 1936.

    I think with pitch counts, etc., that it will be difficult for Felix to match this with 19 this year or 20 next year even with an extraordinary game, because he probably gets pulled from the game before he gets close.

  31. Deanna on August 12th, 2005 3:08 pm

    29: Randy Johnson (2979, 3.23)

    The web makes these things too easy 🙂

  32. Paul Covert on August 12th, 2005 3:13 pm

    Too easy? Yeah, true… but I still was amazed to find it out, having lived through Randy’s wild-thing years in the early 90’s.

    (Maddux, having hit 3000 last month, now has the best ratio in the 3000+ club at 3.36. Pedro and Schilling are on top among the 2500+, with 4.31 and 4.25, respectively.)

  33. A's Fan on August 12th, 2005 7:27 pm

    Just an A’s fan reading about your great pitching prospect. the discussion is interesting as everyone seems to really want him to be the savior of the team which is understandable. For reference, Harden was called up about this time two years ago, was lights out for the first few starts, then got rocked for much of the remainder of the season as major league hitters picked up his pitches. Last year he made adjustments and improved. He was probably the best pitcher on the team at the end of the season and this year he is the best pitcher on the team. He seems to be much the same type of pitcher as Hernandez.