Bert Blyleven on pitching inside

I don’t always understand the idea behind hiring ex-jocks to provide general commentary. I mean, does Bert Blyleven really have any greater insight into the pennant races than you do? But when properly deployed, guys like old Bert can be really valuable, such as in this post, where he talks about the art of working inside:

I was 39 years old, pitching for the Angels and nearing the final stages of my career. It was my 21st season in the big leagues, and I have to admit that my shoulder was killing me.

A’s slugger Jose Canseco didn’t feel much sympathy for my shoulder, which was fine. But it wasn’t fine the way he stood there and watched the ball after smashing a homer off me. I mean he took forever. So I yelled at him: “Run you (expletive)! Run!”

Next time he comes up I hit him with a pitch right in the chest. The ball rolled out toward me and I walked up, picked it up, and told him “that couldn’t have hurt you, you’re so (expletive) strong.”

I can read that kind of stuff all day.


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Nick Steiner
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Nick Steiner

Awesome.

Alex
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Alex

Looks like the game in question was July 25, 1990:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/OAK/OAK199007250.shtml

Canseco hit a 3-run homer off of Blyleven in the 1st; Bert plunked him the next time he came up in the 2nd. What Bert doesn’t mention is that Canseco took him deep again in the 4th. Whoops.

Alex
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Alex

okay, my bad, Bert doesn’t mention that. Note to self: read full article before you snark.

Jacob
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Jacob

Great article.  Thanks for linking to it.

Ben2009
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Ben2009

Ahh, the celebration of mindless violence.  You know what a better way would have been to get revenge on Canseco?  Stike him out next time. 

Atheletes are real morons sometimes.

Jeff Mathews
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Jeff Mathews

The real question is, did he Cadillac around the bases after that homer in the fourth, or did he put his head down and run?

obsessivegiantscompulsive
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obsessivegiantscompulsive

So are baseball fans:  a hitter, particularly one like Canseco, will hardly remember that you struck him out after a homer.  What type of revenge is that? 

However,he will most certainly remember that you plunked him in the body with a pitch if you hit him right after he hit a home run off of you…

kardo
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kardo

“Well, in the next at-bat he goes deep off me again, a rocket to straight-away center field. But at least this time he ran around the bases.”

Bert made his point 😀

Ray
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Ray

Great point, Ben2009.  A pitcher should always get revenge by striking out the better the next time, because pitchers, especially 39 year old pitchers with bad arms, always strike out batters when they intend to, right?

Ben2009
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Ben2009
MKD, that’s my problem with the story.  If Bert had hit Canseco to give Canseco an incentive to stop doing something to give himself an unfair advantage in the game, like stealing signs, I wouldn’t have a problem (or at least not as much of one).  But Bert intentionally hit him – in other words, Bert intentionally put a runner on base helping the A’s chances of winning and the helping his own team’s chances of losing – because Bert felt embarrassed.  Bert put his own feelings ahead of his team’s.  That might be understandable and certainly isn’t unprecedented.  But… Read more »
Bob Rittner
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Bob Rittner

As a matter of fact, it did lead to a run which made the score 5-0. The HBP came with a man on first and 1 out. A walk followed and then a sacrifice fly.

Ben2009
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Ben2009
No Ray, of course pitchers can’t always strike out batters when they intend to.  But if Bert couldn’t K Canseco, then I guess he wasn’t as good as Canseco.  That’s the point of sports, right?  To see who’s better?  Plus, Bert didn’t even try to get Canseco out.  He intentionally put him on base, thus hurting his team for the sake of his personal pride.  When Rickey Henderson did things like that, he got raked over the coals. Where’s the line?  So it’s OK – in fact, it’s laudable – for Bert to throw a ball at Canseco as hard… Read more »
Michael
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Michael

Right now, somewhere, Bob Watson’s face is twitching just from the existence of this story.

mkd
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mkd

The point is that if Canseco had hit the home run and just headed out off his trot it would have been no big deal. Blyleven didn’t plunk Canseco for being better, he plunked Canseco for showing him up. Which, well, don’t be a dick and you won’t get hit by stuff. That’s the point.

(and ben, it doesn’t say anywhere that Blyleven was throwing “as hard as he could”)

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