Curt Schilling Doesn’t Care If His Politics Cost Him Hall of Fame Votes
For the fourth straight year, Curt Schilling likely isn’t going to receive enough support to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame when the voting results are revealed Wednesday evening. That’s apparently fine by him.
In an interview with WEEI’s Rob Bradford Tuesday, Schilling expanded on his thoughts about the Hall of Fame voting process. Unsurprisingly, he has strong feelings on it.
“It is the most subjective thing I’ve ever been around,” Schilling says. “I read an article the other day about a writer who didn’t vote for me because I only had 216 wins. But then John Smoltz he voted for because he had 214 wins. And then he said, ‘270 wins for [Mike] Mussina, but wins are a meaningless stat.’ But that’s how it is. I’ve made peace with that a long time ago.”
Schilling is right to point out the hypocrisies of many voters, who often have inconsistent standards and seemingly change their opinions on a yearly basis. For example, Schilling received 39.2 percent of the vote last winter after garnering 29.2 percent in 2014. Though his career numbers obviously didn’t change, he mysteriously experienced an uptick in support.
It doesn’t appear as if Schilling’s candidacy is gaining any additional momentum this time around. Out of the 176 writers who have opted to make their ballots public, Schilling’s net gain—votes he’s picked up this year—stands at +12. That’s far below many of his peers, including Mike Mussina, who’s ranked one spot behind Schilling on Jay Jaffe’s JAWS ratings, which attempts to put a numerical value on each player’s Hall of Fame resume.
Net gained votes through 169 ballots: Edgar +30 Mussina +25 Bagwell +22 Trammell +20 Raines +14 Walker/Bonds +11 Piazza/Smith +10 3 @ +9
— Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs) January 6, 2016
Bloomberg’s Will Leitch hypothesizes that Schilling’s bombastic brand of right-wing politics may be hindering his Hall of Fame candidacy. In a radio interview with WEEI last year, Schilling joked his political affiliation is costing him votes.
But given the curious lack of support behind Schilling this year, he may have been right. The burly hurler has been involved in numerous social media mishaps recently, including tweeting a meme that compares radical Muslims to Nazis. ESPN suspended Schilling for the rest of the baseball regular-season shortly thereafter.
“I’m not going to change who I am to make people think differently of me. I can’t do that,” Schilling tells Bradford. “I’m passionate about what I believe in. If my mouth keeps me out of the Hall of Fame, then it’s a flawed process if that’s the reason people don’t vote for me.”
Indeed. Though Schilling’s right-wing conspiracy theorist musings may be outlandish, they shouldn’t keep him out of the Hall. He’s one of the greatest postseason pitchers ever, posting an 11-2 record with a 2.23 ERA in 19 playoff starts and winning three championships. No starter since 1960 who’s thrown at least 100 innings in the postseason owns a lower ERA. In addition, Schilling’s 3,116 strikeouts rank 15th all-time and his 4.4 strikeout-to-walk ratio is the highest of any pitcher since the start of the 19th century.
Schilling’s inflammatory comments on social media may define him as a person, but they don’t define him as a baseball player. But given his curiously low vote totals so far, it’s fair to ask whether some writers are letting his Twitter and Facebook memes cloud their judgment.