The strangest things happened Wednesday.
Roberto Alomar, who was judged not ready for the Hall of Fame a year ago, was resoundingly pushed into Cooperstown.
And Bert Blyleven, who was judged not ready for induction 13 times in 13 years, finally made it on try No. 14.
All of which underscores the uneven process that is Hall of Fame induction.
In five years -- heck, maybe in five days -- there will be little doubt that both Alomar, perhaps the best second baseman of his time, and Blyleven, a dominant starting pitcher over the space of two decades, belong in the Hall.
But in the years of voting that led up to Wednesday's announcement, there apparently was an ocean of room for doubt. A year ago, Alomar got 397 of the 539 votes cast (73.7 percent) and missed out on a first-year entry because the rules say entry goes only to those getting 75 percent of votes cast.
Blyleven, Alomar Elected | Snubs: Bagwell | Palmeiro
In the space of 12 months, Alomar picked up 126 votes and got to the select elevation of 90 percent, a level reached rarely. Frank Robinson and Mickey Mantle had undoubted Hall of Fame careers, but neither got 90 percent of the vote. Ditto Joe DiMaggio, Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell and Sandy Koufax.
Less than 10 percent of those making it into the Hall have gotten 90 percent or more of the vote in his year of induction. Of those 26, Alomar is the only one not to make it on the first ballot.
Did Alomar become a better player in the last 12 months? Not so much. What happened is that there seems to be a cadre of long-tenured Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) members who have reserved first-ballot only for the elite of the elite.
It's a little silly, because once you are in the Hall, whether you make it with 75 percent of the vote or 95 percent, or more, you are in. There is no Ultra Hall for Mays and Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb.
Still, in the 73 years there has been voting for the Hall, voters have acted as if there was one. While life and death have changed the names doing the voting, that first-ballot selectivity hasn't changed in the last seven decades. To pick just one year (1950), Ott, Bill Terry and Jimmie Foxx were all on the ballot. None of them got the required 75 percent needed.
All made it eventually, no one now doubts their credentials, but voters then didn't see them as first-ballot types.
During the last couple of decades of his life, DiMaggio liked -- demanded, really -- to be called the greatest living baseball player, a title accorded him when Major League Baseball celebrated its centennial in 1969.
But he certainly wasn't the greatest living ballplayer in the eyes of the voters, who bypassed him for the Hall of Fame in his first year. (You can make a strong case that with Willie Mays being around, DiMaggio wasn't the greatest living ballplayer in any event, but that's an issue for another day. Mays was still active at the time of the 1969 vote.)
In any event, getting 90 percent of the vote this year after not making it a year ago was something of an eyebrow-raiser, even for Alomar.
"It was real surprising; I didn't expect to get so many votes," Alomar said on the conference call after the voting was announced. "Last year was a little bit disappointing, but then on the other hand, I feel real happy with what happened this year.
"Last year I got so close. I expected that this year I (would) at least (be) able to make it, but I didn't think that I was going to get that many votes.''
Neither did anyone else. What was expected was that Blyleven would finally make it. He got 62 percent of the vote two years ago, then got a huge surge last year and came within five votes of making it. This year got him over the top.
Again, that's kind of strange. He hasn't thrown a pitch in almost 20 years now; why is he getting a push now when he struggled for votes for well over a decade?
Blyleven doesn't know, but he does know enough to not worry about it anymore.
"It's been frustrating over the years,'' Blyleven said. "Some years I would see (my vote total) go down. It wasn't until last year, when I went from 62 percent to 74 percent and being five votes short that I felt I was getting close."
There have been any number of players that are the anti-90 percent crowd. Blyleven joins players like Orlando Cepeda and Jim Rice whose time on the ballot was just about gone when they made it. Every player elected to Cooperstown by the Veterans Committee is one whose time on the BBWAA ballot has come and gone.
They are all Hall of Famers now. How they got there doesn't matter.
Maybe it's time for the BBWAA voters to stop acting like it does.
FanHouse TV's Steve Phillips breaks down what the 2011 Hall of Fame election results mean for those who earned their place in Cooperstown and those who did not.