The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown will welcome two new members this summer, as the upstate museum announced that second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Bert Blyleven received enough votes for entry from the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Alomar was both a superb hitter and fielder when the Mets acquired him in the winter of 2001. Unfortunately, his skills depreciated rapidly in Flushing and he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the summer of 2003.
I asked him at last week’s Hall of Fame press conference, held at the Waldorf-Astoria, if he feared that being a bust in New York would irreparably harm his chances of achieving baseball’s highest honor. At first Roberto tried to defend his performance by saying that his 2002 season, when he batted .266, hit 11 homers, drove in 53 runs and stole 16 bases, was still pretty good for a second baseman. He then admitted that things did not go well for the Mets in ’02 and that he and his teammates were always pressing. Clearly he wasn’t happy reminiscing about his tenure in Queens.
Blyleven was always known for a sharp curveball and an even sharper wit. Now a broadcaster with the Minnesota Twins, Blyleven had the press corps in stitches with his one-liners. My guess is that he’ll rival Bob Uecker’s 2003 address for the most laughs in a Hall of Fame induction speech. The only time Blyleven dropped the levity was admitting his disappointment that he wasn’t elected years earlier so that his father, who died in 2004, could have shared this joyous event with him.
Long Island City native and former Channel 4 sports anchor Len Berman has written a new book, “The Greatest 25 Baseball Players of All Time” (Sourcebooks). As you can imagine, a book with this title is going to start all kinds of debates. Alex Rodriguez and Jackie Robinson made the cut while Yogi Berra and Sandy Koufax did not.
I spoke with Len last month about the book, and he made it clear that he was just reporting the recommendations of his blue-ribbon committee.
“Among the people who compiled this list were sportscaster Bob Costas, Brooklyn Dodgers pitching great Ralph Branca and perennial Yankees fan favorite, retired centerfielder Bernie Williams,” he said proudly.
When I asked him if would be returning to television, Len said that he has had numerous discussions but is not interested in working nights as he did for 24 years. He is enjoying commenting on sports and the news on his website, lenbermansports.com
Cable’s FX network went all out promoting “Lights Out,” its new series about an aging former boxing champion trying to make one last comeback, by bringing in former heavyweight greats such as Gerry Cooney, Larry Holmes, Joe Frazier and Lennox Lewis to pose with the show’s cast members at Grand Central Station. The star of the series is Astoria resident Holt McAllany.