When it comes to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, it appears it’s in a different space than it used to be. That could be a good thing as far as the wall breaking down to elect those linked to steroids into Cooperstown, but there’s one remaining factor we are still trying to etch away at: Character.
It’s a part the Baseball Writers’ Association of America are instructed to consider when it comes to electing an individual. Basically, it’s something you won't find on Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, or any other statistical website that shows numbers or MLB awards.
“It just seems to me like an easy way to say whether the writer’s like you or not,” The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli said on the latest episode of Balk Talk.
Case in point: Barry Bonds.
“Let’s call a spade, a spade,” Ghiroli said. “If Barry Bonds was more media-friendly -- if he had given more hugs or more interviews, or smiled more, he’d be in the Hall of Fame.”
Bonds fell short of election once again with 61.8 percent of the vote. He has one year left of eligibility before falling off the ballot.
This year specifically, no players were elected to the 2021 class. Not one. It was the first time since 2013 this has happened. However this time, the Bonds’ connection to steroids took a back seat to that of Curt Schilling, who really tested this character dynamic.
The former big-league pitcher, who’s bloody sock during the 2004 American League Championship Series is one of the more iconic images in baseball history, has an impressive resume with six MLB All-Star selections and three World Series championships, one of which he was named the MVP. But … his tweets. It’s what he says in 280 characters or less that appears to be what causes hesitation.
NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole, who has a Hall of Fame vote, said it perfectly: “When I wrote the check mark next to Schilling’s name, I knew of our social, political and philosophical differences. I knew he skewed toward bigotry and intolerance. … I also knew this despicable man was one of the greatest pitchers of the last 50 years.”
Schilling also gave his public support to those involved in the recent U.S. Capitol riots.
He received 71.1 percent of the vote this year -- 16 votes shy of the 75 percent threshold needed to be inducted.
Shortly after the results were announced Tuesday, Schilling requested he be removed from the ballot next year.
Poole and Ghiroli also noted the plaques that already exist in Cooperstown are not short of those who have questionable character, so why start now?