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Finally today? Bert Blyleven to the Hall of Fame?

ALSO: Dayton to act on federal health aid — and ponders state casino; Klobuchar active in Senate rules fight; and a nice reward for a good deed.
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Finally today? Bert Blyleven to the Hall of Fame?

Major developments in the serious business of government and Medicaid withstanding, today will be a very special day for Minnesotans if, as expected, Bert Blyleven is finally voted into the Hall of Fame. ESPN’s Jayson Stark writes: “Holy schmoly. After all these years, his time has finally come. Blyleven missed getting elected by five votes last year. No player in history has come that close one year and not gotten in thereafter. So this looks like The Year, finally. In his 14th try. As I wrote last week, no candidate in the history of the universe has benefited more from the invention of sabermetrics than Blyleven. Now that we have sources like Baseball-Reference.com to tell us that Blyleven ranks 13th among all pitchers in history in wins above replacement (ahead of Christy Mathewson and Bob Gibson), those nay votes get pretty much impossible to justify. So a man who was still getting just 70 votes as recently as 1999 is about to become the first full-time starting pitcher to get elected to the Hall of Fame in a dozen years. I wonder whether he’ll thank modern mathematics in his speech.” I’m betting Bert will make reference both to his birthday and his facility with California math.

Says Tom Verducci on Sports Illustrated’s website, after chronicling several of Bert’s less distinguished moments: “There is a reason Blyleven needed 14 ballots: he wasn’t a classic ace. What eventually filters through for enough voters, however, is that Blyleven took the ball so many times and struck out so many batters over so many years that his enshrinement will be well earned.”

Says USA Today’s “Daily Pitch” blog: “Blyleven has 3,701 career strikeouts (ranking him fifth all-time), 60 shutouts (ninth) and 242 complete games (91st). His shutout total is greater than that of eight Hall of Famers. According to FoxSportsNorth.com since 1966, only Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Tom Seaver have more shutouts than Blyleven. Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski also found that Blyleven won more 1-0 games than any pitcher in the last 90 years.” More importantly … he’s Bert, damn it.

Today is also the day Gov. Mark Dayton will officially repeal his predecessor’s ban on so-called “Obamacare” benefits. Rachel Stassen-Berger posts at the Strib’s “Hot Dish Politics” blog: “The Dayton executive order will ‘remove the ban on requests for federal assistance to improve the availability and quality of health care in Minnesota, rescinding Executive Order 10-12,’ his office said. But what Pawlenty banned, Dayton is welcoming. Dayton will also sign an executive order Wednesday to sign Minnesota up for a federally-funded Medicaid program, which Pawlenty also opposed.”

Jacob Kittelstad of Duluth’s Fox21 adds: “The Medicaid expansion will basically replace General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC), a system some Northland users describe as broken after extreme cuts reduced the number of eligible hospitals. The hospitals were cut down to only four, all of them in the Twin Cities. Dayton’s decision would create a program that could be used at most greater Minnesota hospitals. ‘It’s $1.2 billion and from my understanding, right now, we’ll be reimbursed at 50 percent of the rate until the whole reimbursement starts in 2014 and then we would be reimbursed at 100 percent by the federal government,’ said advocate Beth Olsen. ‘It’s a real plus for our region,’ said St. Louis County Commissioner Steve O’Neil.”

Warren Wolfe at the Strib writes, “Advocates say the change also will bring about $1.4 billion in federal money to the state and help create 25,000 health care jobs. Republican lawmakers, however, say the shift may benefit the state financially in the short term, but is not good long-term policy. Under federal law, in 2014 Washington will take over Medicaid costs for people with incomes below 133 percent of the poverty level. ‘That’s going to be overwhelming,’ said state Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, new chairman of the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee. ‘The country can’t afford it, and Congress may come to its senses and change the law. We’re counting on mythical money — money that may not exist — and adding 95,000 people to Medicaid will just make it worse,’ he added.” But, you know, better for the 95,000.

Simultaneously, Dayton is pushing into very tricky territory with traditionally DFL-friendly American Indians. Mark Sepic of MPR reports: “Dayton says if Minnesota expands gambling, a state-owned casino would be the best way to go about it. Horse track owners have long sought to add slot machines. But the new DFL governor says so-called racinos will not produce as much cash for the state at a time when it’s desperate for new revenue.  ‘I’m not a fan of gambling myself, but I recognize a lot of people want to do it,’ said Dayton. ‘I propose one state-owned and operated casino at the Mall of America, or possibly at the airport or downtown Minneapolis. Somewhere where the state would derive maximum financial benefit.’ “

Jeremy Herb of the Strib files on Sen. Amy Klobuchar getting on board with the push to bring change to the Senate’s gridlock-inducing filibuster rules, heavily, um, “employed” by the Republican minority over the past two years. Writes Herb: “[New Mexico Sen. Tom] Udall plans to introduce the proposed filibuster rule changes on the first day of the new session Wednesday. Without an agreement with the GOP, however, Democrats plan to use a procedural tactic to stretch the ‘first day’ over several weeks. Udall wants to maintain the option of passing the rule changes with a simple majority rather than a two-thirds vote, which he argues is allowed because the Constitution says Congress sets its rules at the beginning of a new Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada plans to use a procedural tactic to keep the Senate’s ‘first day’ in session beyond Wednesday, giving Democrats time to reach a compromise before the Senate reconvenes Jan. 24.” Expect death throes-like howling from the loyal opposition.

The AP has a story about a Minnesota man rewarded with a free stay at a luxe Colorado condo for returning a ring he found. Follow the details here: “Virtue may be its own reward, but the chance to stay at an exclusive mountain development while on a Colorado ski vacation isn’t bad, either. That’s what Mark Epple of Minneapolis and his family received this Christmas for returning a valuable ring he found at the Eagle County airport last February on his way home from skiing. The ring was a [12-carat] yellow diamond crafted to commemorate the 30th wedding anniversary of Roger and Janis Ward.” … TWELVE carats? I know my wife’s is a lot bigger, because that’s the kind of guy I am, but still …