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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  1. Ben2009 said...

    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.

  2. Jeff Mathews said...

    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?

  3. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    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…

  4. kardo said...

    “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 :D

  5. Ray said...

    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?

  6. Ben2009 said...

    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 it shouldn’t be celebrated.

    Also, again I ask – would Canseco have been justified in charging the mound?  We all seem to like it when pitchers throw at hitters, but never when hitters fight back.

  7. Bob Rittner said...

    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.

  8. Ben2009 said...

    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 as he can with full intent to hit Canseco in the chest (a location containing a little something called the heart; pretty important body part and, although well protected, not exactly impervious).  Would it be OK for Bert to tackle Canseco on his way around the bases?  Or punch him in the face?  How about Canseco?  Given that Bert threw at him intentionally, would it have been OK for Canseco to charge the mound to fight Bert?

    Kardo, what “point” did Bert make?  That he, at 39, was nowhere near as good as Canseco?  What if Bert’s beanball fired Canseco up, giving him extra juice (pun intended) go hit a homer in his 3rd AB.  Was Bert’s “message” worth giving up at least one run, hurting his team?

  9. mkd said...

    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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