Curt Schilling hasn’t thrown a pitch since Game 2 of the World Series for the Boston Red Sox on Oct. 25, 2007, but he’s been aging like fine wine. At least that’s the way the people who vote on candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown see it. They believe Schilling has been pitching up a storm in retirement.
But Schilling has been raising some political hell along the way, too, and some of the ink-stained wretches from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America have their shorts in a bunch because of it.
Consequently, those voters are embarrassing themselves more than usual.
Curt Schilling put up some respectable numbers
Right-handed pitcher Curt Schilling did his best work with the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks. Still, he is probably remembered at least as well for winning two World Series rings with the Boston Red Sox.
Schilling’s regular-season numbers include a 216-146 record and 3.46 ERA. He went to half a dozen All-Star Games, but Schilling never finished higher than second in Cy Young Award voting. Schilling picks up points, however, for his postseason performance. He was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in 19 starts. In five elimination games, he was 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA.
Thirty years ago, it would have been virtually unimaginable to consider a starting pitcher for Baseball Hall of Fame induction without something considerably closer to 300 wins. However, the days of 300-inning seasons by rotation pitchers are long gone, and home-run hitters are here to stay. So, Schilling’s numbers are worthy of consideration for Cooperstown.
Support has been building for Curt Schilling, but …
The BBWAA will announce its annual Baseball Hall of Fame results on Jan. 26, 2021, and Curt Schilling is seen as a strong candidate to finally snare the 75% of the votes needed for enshrinement. Schilling picked up votes on 39.2% of ballots in 2015, his third year of eligibility, and he has climbed to 60.9% and then 70.0% the past two years, according to USA Today.
If he does not make it this year, the 2022 ballot will be his last chance to make the Hall of Fame through the most common path.
Now, voters have a problem. That’s because Schilling has long leaned to the right when it comes to his views on politics. He turned up the heat during the 2020 political season, continuing to show support for then-president Donald Trump. The BBWAA voters seemed to be able to look past that, but Schilling’s views on the chaos at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 may have changed that.
A Chicago radio station columnist tweeted this week that multiple voters had asked to re-submit their ballots, presumably because they wanted to cross off Schilling’s name. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that only one voter asked for a do-over, according to NJ.com.
Still, the idea that something Schilling said or did 13 years after retirement could sway even one voter is preposterous. It’s another sign of inconsistency by an organization that gave Schilling 29.2% of its votes in 2014 and 70.0% last year.
Hall of Fame voters have always been illogical
History is littered with dozens of examples of odd decisions by BBWAA voters determining who gets inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 1979, for instance, 23 of the 432 voters left Willie Mays off their ballots. In 1966, Ted Williams got the same treatment from 20 of 302 voters.
Most recently, Derek Jeter missed unanimous selection in 2020 by one vote. Because the balloting is secret unless individual BBWAA members release their choices, baseball fans will never know who holds a grudge against the New York Yankees shortstop.
Also in 2020, Larry Walker was able to sneak in with 304 of a possible 376 votes in his final year of eligibility. Just one year earlier, Walker’s name showed up on only 232 of 425 ballots. And he only made it onto 144 of 422 ballots in 2018. Tim Raines’ selection in 2017 followed a similar path.
That’s every bit as illogical as the way Curt Schilling’s candidacy has progressed in recent years. The logic will grow worse if Schilling misses this year and sees his support slip in 2022 because of his politics, which have nothing to do with his baseball.