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May 23, 2008
by Jeff Pyatt
Of all starting pitchers whose careers have started within the past 40 years, zero have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Zero!
And of all those eligible pitchers who have flown under the radar, Bert Blyleven may have the strongest Cooperstown case. Not only did he have the best curveball of his era, but he also had a career line to match: 3.31 ERA over 4,970 innings, 60 careers shutouts, 242 complete games. (By comparison, Roger Clemens, the "otherwise" first ballot Hall of Famer, had a 3.12 ERA over 4,916 innings and only 46 career shutouts and 118 complete games.)
After eleven years of eligibility, what keeps Blyleven from being enshrined? Maybe it's because he never won a Cy Young. Maybe it's because with 287 wins, he never got to 300. Or maybe it's because he spent most of his career playing for small market teams. But it's certainly not because of a lack of personality. This man knows what he likes... in fact, loves: Bert Blylevan hearts farts.
Q: Speaking of pride, what about this T-shirt you've been photographed wearing that says, "I [heart] to fart"?
BB: I LOVE to fart.
Q: What's wrong with you?
BB: I'm honest. Have you ever farted?
Q: One or two times.
BB: And did it feel good?
BB: Probably so. That's why I wore it. I love to fart. I do. When the time is right, I do it. I'm not going to hide it.
Q: You're so blunt about your love for flatulence.
BB: Yeah. Well, someone gave me the shirt because of my history of farting, so I wear it. I LOVE to fart. I think I still have it.
Q: What gets you really gassy?
BB: Anything. The air we're breathing right now.
Q: Should I be ready for something?
BB: I have no trouble. It's not one thing that I eat, it's just passed down from my father. My father was a very good farter. I have a sister who's very good at it, too. Probably better than I am.
Q: Women aren't "supposed" to do that.
BB: Oh, I think times have changed — at least in the Blyleven family.
So even if Blyleven, who in 2008 received 61.9% of the HoF vote (75% is needed to be elected), falls shorts again in 2009, perhaps in 2010 he can rest his induction hopes on courting the farting feminist sportswriter vote.