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Let's Go to the Videotape: The Dry Wit of Bert Blyleven, 1988

Today Let's Go to the Videotape returns to the 1988 baseball preview produced by NBC Sports, which we've looked at a few times already. (To refresh your memory: It's the one that uses The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" as bumper music for some bizarre reason.)

With Bert Blyleven once again a candidate for the Hall of Fame, there has been quite a bit of debate about his credentials on the baseball-related interwebs lately. In general, stat-minded folks have been pushing his HOF worthiness, while more traditional media types don't consider him as deserving a candidate as Jack Morris. The refrain of the latter is, often, "You had to be there"--that if you were watching baseball during their respective heydays, you too would favor Morris over Blyleven.

So I thought it would be instructive to showcase some video of Blyleven displaying his prodigious talents. You will not see any footage of him pitching in this clip, but you will see some hefty use of his dry wit.

Some context here: Going into the 1988 season, the Minnesota Twins were the reigning World Series champions. No one expected them to make the postseason in 1987, let alone win it all. Their success was considered something of a fluke (in retrospect, a not entirely unfair assessment), and they were not expected to repeat in a division with the rapidly rising A's.

Therefore, the Twins remained for the most part a humble bunch of blue-collar lugs (despite having future HOFer Kirby Puckett, ace lefty Frank Viola, and HOF hopeful Blyleven). That's the main idea behind the clip below. It begins with a somewhat embarrassing segment of World Series MVP/future Met Viola being trailed by Disney's lovable Goofy (inspired by the then-ubiquitous series of sports-related ads with the tagline "I'm going to Disney World!"). I swear you can see Marv Albert lose a year off his life from the humiliation of trying to transition out of this silliness.

The segment then interviews a few of the Twins on their relative anonymity. Skip ahead to 3:10 to get Blyleven's take on being shown the proper respect as a champion, particularly at home.