CHAT TRANSCRIPT: Blyleven talks Twins and more

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Events_Moderator: Okay everyone! It's time to begin! Let's welcome Bert Blyleven to the chat! Hi Bert, welcome to Lycos Live Events! What's up?

bert_blyleven: I am doing well, thank you!

Annakfan: Bert what did you as daily training when you were pitching ?

bert_blyleven: My daily training was a lot of distance running. And if I lifted weights, it was light weights.

scooma: Who is going to be the Twins' closer?

bert_blyleven: Right now, its going to be Eddie Guardado. But also Troy Hawkins has some closing experience, and also Mike Jackson is a non-roster player invited to spring training, and he has a lot of closing experience. The key to Jackson is to stay healthy.

textrey: IF the Twins are to be saved from contraction, do they need a new stadium?

bert_blyleven: I believe that they do. A new stadium will create the necessary revenue to compete at the major league level.

wallace_the_dog: The Twins whacked the payroll and then fielded a pretty good team. Why don't more MLB teams show this kind of financial restraint?

bert_blyleven: Actually, Montreal had the lowest payroll, the Twins were second to the last in the A.L., yes. They have been believers in the last few years to build within their organization, and that has allowed the Twins to keep a low payroll. Baseball has to come up with some type of revenue sharing or salary cap to get to the next level.

mroblaz2: Who was the toughest hitter you ever faced? Who gave you the most trouble?

bert_blyleven: Anybody with a bat!! (laughs)At times! I always went into each game knowing that there were three or four hitters that would probably give me trouble, and I hoped I could get through those three or four hitters. I never looked at one individual as someone I couldn't get out, but I knew there were three or four hitters.

scooma: Is Doug Mientkiewicz the real deal?

bert_blyleven: Yes, Mientkiewicz is a very solid defensive first baseman. He won the 2001 Rawlings Gold Glove Award for the AL as a defensive first baseman. Plus, last year he hit .306 and really carried the club in April. He will be a very consistent first baseman offensively and defensively. Doug Mientkiewicz is probably the best first baseman since Kent Hrbek in Twins history.

Annakfan: What do you think is preventing you from getting in the Hall of Fame??

bert_blyleven: Good question! The writers! I don't know. I honestly do not know. My numbers speak for themselves.

scooma: Is Rick Reed going to stay in Minnesota?

bert_blyleven: I believe Rick Reed will stay in a Twins uniform. Why? He demanded a trade, and he becomes a free agent if the Twins do not trade him, he sacrifices his guaranteed contract. And I believe that will not happen. If I'm the Twins, I call his bluff and do not trade him.

schwartzra: The bullpen seemed to cause the Twins the most trouble last year. Will we see LaTroy Hawkins again this year?

bert_blyleven: Right now, Eddie Guardado is penciled in to be the closer under new manager Ron Gardenhire. Until Eddie falters, he will be the closer.

wallace_the_dog: Bert, how will the team be affected by all the talk of folding the team?

bert_blyleven: I believe the word contraction has rejuvenated these young players into a better team. I believe this young ball club will have a very successful season because of the word contraction. These young players came up through the Twins organization, and they are all friends. And the word contraction upset a lot of them. That's why the Twins, I feel, will have a successful season in 2002.

hotathlete18: Assuming the Twins avoid contraction, do the have the payroll to hold onto their young stars?

bert_blyleven: I believe they do, temporarily, until a new stadium is voted upon in Minnesota, or private money is raised to support the building of a new stadium. With a new stadium, creates the necessary revenue to increase the salary of this young team.

hotathlete18: Where do you think Tom Kelly ranks among all-time managers?

bert_blyleven: Tom Kelly was an outstanding manager for the Minnesota Twins for 15 seasons. Being the manager on the 87 and 91 World Series teams has helped Tom. But a manager is only as good as his players. Tom Kelly, in my opinion was a very good baseball manager. Where he ranks, I guess that would be up to the baseball gods!

schwartzra: Does it seem strange to be entering a Twins season without Tom Kelly at the helm?

bert_blyleven: No. Because that's the game of baseball. And Tom Kelly decided to step aside to allow someone like Ron Gardenhire to have the opportunity to fulfil his dream of managing at the major league level.

textrey: What youngster in the Twins organization will be a super star in the next few years?

bert_blyleven: I believe you have to look at Cristian Guzman at shortstop and Luis Rivas as the two youngsters in the Twins organization who have the most natural talent.

Annakfan: Bert what was the hardest part about pitching when you were 40 plus??

bert_blyleven: Nothing was ever hard about pitching. To me, health was probably the hardest, when my shoulder went bad it wasn't as much fun as it was when I was 19. But I was able to play a kids game at the major league level for 23 years, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

textrey: Which current pitcher in the MLB most reminds you of yourself?

bert_blyleven: Hmmm ¿ Roger Clemens. Tim Hudson, with Oakland. Mike Mussina with the Yankees. Because they are workhorses.

mroblaz2: What was it like to play with Willie Stargell and the "We are family" Pirates?

bert_blyleven: Pops was one of the greatest individuals on and off the field I ever had the opportunity to play with and to be around. Another person that comes to mind is Harmon Killebrew.

bs4nu: Was Jim Kaat a big help when you started out?

bert_blyleven: Jim Kaat was a HUGE help, along with Jim Carey, Luis Tiant, and Dave Boswell were all big factors in my maturity as a teenager at the major league level. Jim Kaat being a fellow Dutchman, took a liking to me back in 1970 in spring training, and I will never be able to thank him enough.

classicman1: Bert, You mentioned that you would be a good pitching coach selection for the Twins, why is that ?

bert_blyleven: Good question! To be a good pitching coach, I believe you have to have the ability to communicate with the current day players, and also have the art of teaching young pitchers to develop into consistent starters or relievers. The knowledge of pitching can be only accomplished by hard work and dedication to yourself, and to your team.

schwartzra: Is it true you were the king of the hotfoot trick? Who was your easiest victim?

bert_blyleven: (laughs) First of all, do not play with matches. The hotfoots that I gave were all in fun to my teammates and others, they were never intended to harm anyone. And it created a lot of laughs. And burned shoelaces.

hotathlete18: Bert, the Twins made strides over the last couple years, are they ready to make a serious run at the World Series, or what pieces do they need?

bert_blyleven: I believe the Twins will have a consistent year and hopefully go to the playoffs in the Central Division of the A.L. From there, hopefully good things will happen in the playoffs, and eventually the World Series as they did in 87 and 91. This team has two main forces to allow them to be consistent. They have very solid starting pitching, and an outstanding defensive club.

textrey: Which team has the most fearsome hitting lineup in the majors this year?

bert_blyleven: In the A.L., again you have to look at the Yankees. Because they are able to move players like O'Neill and Martinez, and go out and get a Jason Giambi. To fill what they lost. In the N.L., I would have to say the New York Mets are going to be one of the most potentially offensive clubs — best offensive clubs — in baseball. The key to the Mets offense will be Mo Vaughn.

hotathlete18: Mr. Blyleven, which team do you think has done the most over the offseason to improve their chance of winning it all?

bert_blyleven: I believe the Texas Rangers have improved their ballclub to compete against the Seattle Mariners in the Western Division of the A.L. The key to the Rangers is Carl Everett having a healthy year.

Events_Moderator: I hate to say it, but we have to wrap this up in a few minutes. Our time with Bert is almost up! We'll take a few more questions & comments.

classicman1: Bert, how do you feel about the comments that the Chicago White Sox have recently made about the Twins chances of doing well again this year?

bert_blyleven: There has been this rivalry between the Twins and the White Sox that has been generated over the last two years, because of things said from the Twins side and the Sox side that should make the A.L.'s Central Division very interested. With the Cleveland Indians cutting their payroll and losing some key players, this should allow this division to be very competitive with the Twins, White Sox and the Indians all looking to win the division.

bs4nu: Where would you rank Tony Oliva among the hitters you've seen?

bert_blyleven: I would rank Tony Oliva as in the same category as far as offensive hitters as Rod Carew. I believe that Tony Oliva will one day be in the Hall of Fame. It's a shame his career was shortened because of so many knee operations. Tony Oliva is a class man that deserves better by the media, and now the veterans committee of the Hall of Fame. And his numbers over a short period of time rank with the game's best.

textrey: Bert, are you EVER home By Eleven?

bert_blyleven: (laughs) I am ALWAYS home by eleven! Are YOU home By Eleven, thank you Chris Berman!

Events_Moderator: Of all the things you have done in your career, what was your most memorable?

bert_blyleven: Being part of the 1979 World Series Pittsburgh Pirates, and being part of the 1987 Minnesota Twins World Championship team. Baseball is a team effort, and when you're able to be on a team that wins it all, it's the most satisfying factor in why you play the game.

bradhasbrouck: Bert, with the events of September 11th tragedy, do you think "God Bless America" will continue to be sung during the 7th inning stretch for this upcoming season?

bert_blyleven: I hope so. I believe that the tragedy of September 11th has united our strong nation closer together than it ever has before. Baseball is just a small part of the American pastime. And I hope and pray that God Bless America will continue to be sung throughout ballparks everywhere.

Events_Moderator: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us this evening, Bert. It's been fun! We'll have to do this again sometime!

bert_blyleven: I want to thank all the people that asked the questions, I want to thank everyone for being baseball fans, for loving the greatest game in the world. God Bless America, and God Bless you!

classicman1: Thanks Bert.

Events_Moderator: Great questions everyone. Y'all are the best!! I hope everyone had fun!! We sure did!!

Tagged: Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, Indians, Twins, Yankees, Athletics, Mariners, Rangers, Astros, Mets, Pirates, LaTroy Hawkins, Jason Giambi, Tim Hudson

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