This is Bert “be home” Blyleven. He arrived in the majors in the spring of 1970 and pitched until about three months ago. Not really, but man he pitched a lot of years. Bert had a curveball that you had to see to believe, it kind of dropped off the kitchen table at exactly the right time.
In fact, if you saw it once the word that would come to mind is “fluke.” No one can do that, except he’d do it again and again and again. When he was older they juiced the ball and the curves that were flat got beaten to death. In a two year span during this era, Bert gave up 96 home runs! Incredible.
He won 17 and 15 games in those seasons. He also pitched all the damn time. He pitched 241 innings at age 38, a nice bookend to a career that saw him throw 278 innings in his first full season (age 20).
He won 5 WS games, two WS (including the year he gave up 46 homers), struck out a ton and won a bunch. But it’s that curveball I’ll remember.
There’s a thousand stories I could tell you about Oilers past. Ryan Smyth battling in the corner, Glenn Anderson driving to the net, Gretzky passing to nowhere (seemingly) and Kurri entering the zone to rip one past the goaltender. Doug Weight’s reaction to Marchment’s knee on knee, Dave Brown in any of his fights, Mike Grier on the PK, Paul Coffey gathering steam, Mark Messier in a bad mood, Grant Fuhr stopping a breakaway, Andy Moog vs. Montreal.
Any old timey fan can do that for you, the memories roll through the brain and these days I welcome them. This season, 2009-10, more than any season since 1992-93 and 1993-94, it is becoming more and more difficult to find a reason to watch this team.
Gagner’s passes, Pouliot’s career development by sundial, Penner’s inspired moments, Horcoff’s battling through. There’s not much, my friends.
I wish you could have seen Blyleven’s curveball in his prime. Beauty.