I like Bert Blyleven. I was one of his biggest fans when he played on the World Series teams with the Twins in 1987 and 1991. In fact, I liked him so much that I enjoyed a couple of beverages with him at a bar in Milwaukee back in 1997. Nice guy and very funny.
But when it comes to his job as color commentator on Twins television broadcasts, I’m not impressed. And I haven’t been for a number of years. He misspeaks, misidentifies, and regurgitates mind numbing statistics non-stop.
This past weekend it became even more obvious when a vacationing Blyleven was replaced in the booth by Tom Kelly. Kelly is the crusty, soft spoken, old-school former manager of the Twins. For many years he spouted cliche after cliche. And did his best to keep everyone on the outside from knowing what was happening on the inside.
Until he stepped into the TV booth. Over the span of four games, TK unleashed more baseball knowledge on Twins fans than Blyleven has in more than a decade. It was inside baseball at its finest. I probably watch more baseball than a normal person should, and I feel like I know quite a bit, but TK told me things I had never known.
Late in one of the games there was a shot of Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire in the dugout. He pointed at his own eyes and then pointed out to the field. It was one of those gestures you see repeatedly throughout a game but don’t know the meaning of. As if on cue, TK casually mentioned “Gardy is telling Danny Valencia to watch for a bunt.” He also spent the weekend introducing us to a bunch of new baseball terms, such as diamond cutter and ugly finder. And my favorite TK comment came early in the Sunday game with the White Sox. The early strike zone appeared to be quite large as dictated by the home plate umpire, which produced this exchange:
TK: It’s the last day before the All-Star break, and the hitters better be swinging the bats.
Dick Bremer (Play by play guy): Are you suggesting that the home plate umpire is in a hurry to move this game along?
TK: I’m not suggesting it…I’m telling you it.
It was must see TV. Everything he said was very interesting or funny. And oftentimes it was both. I hope Bert takes some more time off this Summer.