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 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -After creeping closer to the Hall of Fame, Bert Blyleven wondered why he still has to lobby for his spot.
The right-hander who used a wicked curveball and 3,701 strikeouts to win 287 games over 22 seasons argued again for his place among the game's greats in Cooperstown when relief pitcher Goose Gossage was revealed Tuesday as the only player picked for 2008.
Blyleven was named on 336 (61.9 percent) of the 543 ballots cast, 72 votes short of the 75 percent required for election and the most he's ever had. Last year, he received 47.7 percent. In 2006, he got 53.3 percent. Blyleven will have four more chances, if he keeps at least 5 percent per year.
``The waiting game continues. I guess it's up to the other 40 percent of the writers to hopefully jump on the bandwagon,'' Blyleven said in an interview from his home in Fort Myers, Fla., shortly after the results were announced.
``It's rewarding that it went up,'' he said, ``but it's also disappointing.''
The Hall's group of guardians, 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, has notably strict standards. Gossage became the 199th former major league player and 61st pitcher to make it, and it took him nine years. Blyleven contended that was too long, and said it was a ``shame'' Jim Rice fell short in his second-to-last appearance on the ballot.
Blyleven kept his venting to a minimum, however, because he realizes it doesn't help. Over the next year, the Minnesota Twins television analyst will take some solace in his increasing support and hope for the call in 2009.
``You always find yourself at this time of the year, when you're on the fence, defending your numbers,'' Blyleven said. ``You shouldn't have to. There's so many positives there that it's a shame that sometimes out of these voting things that people have to bring up the negative.''
The argument against Blyleven is this: He was never the dominant pitcher of his era. His career ERA is 3.31, and his record of 287-250 is barely above average.
But as Blyleven, his fans and his voters can quickly cite, he ranks fifth in history in strikeouts and ninth in shutouts with 60. He went 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA in the postseason - contributing to World Series winners in 1979 with Pittsburgh and 1987 with Minnesota.
``Well, you never won a Cy Young. Well, there are a lot of guys in the Hall of Fame that never won a Cy Young,'' Blyleven said. ``I look at it as an honor to go in, but it's not going to make or break me. Of course it's frustrating, but what can you do? I just hope it happens when I'm on this side of the grass.''
It's rare for the honor to take more than a decade, but not unprecedented. Eleven players needed 12 or more ballots to be elected, though Bruce Sutter - on his 13th try in 2006 - was the only one since 1976.
Former Twins World Series star Jack Morris also failed to make the cut. He finished sixth with a personal-best 233 votes (42.9 percent) in his ninth appearance.
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