If you love the Red Sox and love Curt Schilling, the good news is that Schill is getting into the Hall of Fame one year from now.
As long as he does not do something incredibly stupid.
Take the man’s phone away immediately. Bar him from any form of social media over the next 12 months. Schill is officially on the threshold of baseball immortality. Results of the 2020 election demonstrate that Schilling is a lock for 2021 as long as he doesn’t make it impossible for voters to honor him.
Derek Jeter and Larry Walker gained admission into Cooperstown Tuesday. Jeter got 99.7 percent of votes cast and Walker — in his 10th and final year of eligibility — crossed the line with 76.6 percent (a candidate needs 75 percent of votes cast to enter the Hall) and will be inducted in late July alongside Marvin Miller and Ted Simmons, who were elected by the Modern Era Committee in December. Nick Cafardo will receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award posthumously and Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson will be honored as the Ford C. Frick Award winner for excellence in baseball broadcasting.
Schill — one of the most dynamic and controversial figures in Red Sox history — will have to wait another winter. In his eighth year on the ballot, the Big Lug garnered 70 percent of the vote, 5 percent and 20 votes shy of induction. This means that Schilling one year from now will be the top vote-getter and stroll into Cooperstown.
Schill’s case for the Hall is complex. The myth of him not getting into Cooperstown — a fable Schilling prefers — is that he is being denied because of his “political opinions.’’
Bogus. Schill’s latter-day, off-the-rails rants and social media posts are not singularly what has kept him out. He is simply not a slam-dunk Hall candidate.
Schilling is not in the Hall yet because he is a borderline candidate in terms of baseball achievement. Put Schilling’s numbers up against those of Luis Tiant and Orel Hershiser. Tiant and Hershiser are not in the Hall of Fame. Is Schilling clearly better than them? No, he is not.
Schilling was a starting pitcher with a sparse 216 career wins. Sorry, but only guys such as Sandy Koufax (165 career wins) and Pedro Martinez (219 wins) get into the Hall with that kind of win total. And Schill is neither Koufax nor Pedro. Schilling’s win total is fewer than that of Jerry Reuss (220). His ERA (3.46) is higher than that of Kevin Brown’s (3.28). None of those pitchers are in the Hall of Fame.
Go to Schilling’s “page” on the trusty Baseball Reference website. In the “similarity scores” section, Schill is compared with pitchers with equitable numbers. None of the first nine listed (including Bob Welch, Brown, and Hershiser) are in the Hall of Fame.
Schilling gets bonus points for being 11-2 in the postseason (opportunity was greater in his era — that’s how Bernie Williams got to be the guy with the most postseason homers for a while). Schilling also was quite possibly the greatest strike machine of the 20th century (his walk-strikeout ratio is off the charts), but he is by no means a Cooperstown lock. He has not been denied because of his “opinions.’’ He has been denied because he is a bubble candidate.
And as a borderline candidate, he has given “on the fence’’ voters reasons not to give him the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t help when you call Adam Jones a “liar” because you don’t believe any fan at Fenway would drop the “N-word” on Jones. It doesn’t help when you state that a tweet that favors lynching journalists is “so much awesome.’’ It doesn’t help when you get fired from ESPN for offensive comments and tweets. It doesn’t help when have to explain your Nazi memorabilia collection.
But that isn’t likely to matter next year. Next year, his ninth on the ballot, Schilling will be the returnee with the highest number of votes from the year before. And there are no Hall-worthy new candidates on next year’s ballot (Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter, Barry Zito, Aramis Ramirez). This means that BBWAA members who vote for the best 10 players on the ballot (misguided voting, in my view) — rather than the true Hall of Famers on the ballot — are going to check the box next to Schilling’s name.
He is getting in next year. Unless he sets himself on fire.
Curt Schilling will be honored in Cooperstown.
Think I’ll sit this one out.
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