While a Red Sox great stirs up controversy on social media, his on-field play is enough to warrant a Hall of Fame bid.
Photo Credit: Jim Davis / Boston Globe
Curt Schilling loves to share his feelings about everything. He talks and talks and talks and I’m not sure he always knows what he’s talking about, but he keeps talking. He has alienated journalists in general and baseball writers specifically — the people responsible for his Hall of Fame fate. I will never understand why he thinks people care about his views on politics, gender issues or anything else, but he keeps talking.
What I do understand is Curt Schilling was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history and belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame. His social media rants have grown tiresome, but should not block his path to Cooperstown. He was never suspended, never linked to drugs, gambling, or anything else harmful to the game. Not being able to control himself on social media should not keep him out of the Hall of Fame.
Naysayers claim Schilling’s 216 career wins don’t pass muster, but wins are not the sole measure of a pitcher’s value. (The Brian Kenny’s of the world will tell you that wins are no measure of a pitcher’s value, but that’s a topic for another day.) Schilling proved to be dominant in most essential categories, ranking 15th all-time in strikeouts. More important in today’s advanced metrics thinking, Schilling ranked third in strikeout-to-walk ratio all-time and 26th in career pitching WAR, tied with first ballot HOF’ers Bob Gibson and Steve Carlton. By not giving away bases or allowing hitters to make consistent contact, Schilling put his teams in position to win as much or more than baseball’s all-time greats.
Doubters are also quick to point out the Cy Young Award missing from the mantle in the Schilling household. Schilling spent his best years in the shadows of teammates Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, but he was one of the best and arguably most dominating pitchers of his era, striking out three hundred batters in consecutive seasons (1997 and 1998 with the Phillies). Schilling was also one of the best money pitchers in baseball history, leading three teams to World Series titles and winning some of the most memorable games in postseason history. He finished with a 2.23 postseason ERA en route to an 11-2 record when the games counted most — yes, wins mean everything in October. Schilling’s playoff heroics started in 1993, when he earned MVP honors in the National League Championship series by throwing a 147-pitch shutout, forcing a Game 6 in Toronto (when Joe Carter hit his memorable World Series walk-off homer).
Schilling was overpowering in the 2001 World Series, giving up just two runs in seven innings before Randy Johnson sealed the deal in the final two innings to end Yankees mini dynasty. Three years later, he held off the Yankees — bloody sock and all — in Game 6 of the American League Championship, leading the Red Sox to their first World Series title in 86 years. He closed out his career with another ring with the Red Sox in 2007.
It’s unfortunate that Schilling’s political and social rants cost him his job with ESPN. He was thoughtful and insightful as a color commentator when he stayed on script on the network’s Sunday night showcase. I’ve heard more than enough of Schilling’s political views and will never vote for him for political office (he has threatened to run for senate), but he gets my Hall of Fame vote.