Whether any other Hall of Fame voters actually called officials in Cooperstown about rescinding their votes for Curt Schilling in recent weeks, I was not one of them.
I did vote for Schilling, as I have in previous years. And if I was filling out the ballot today, I would vote for him again, despite his apparent support for the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, what seems like a gross misunderstanding of the First Amendment, open hostility toward much of the news (especially sports) media and all the generally stupid stuff he spouts from his Twitter account and other platforms.
The reason is pretty straightforward: Six All-Star seasons, three Cy Young runner-up finishes, the best strikeout-to-walk rate of anyone with 3,000 strikeouts, a good ERA in an era of high-octane offense, a great WAR, more than 200 wins, three World Series rings, a fourth World Series appearance, and a career postseason record for the ages: 11-2, 2.23 ERA in 19 starts (averaging seven innings a start).
Schilling is a Hall of Fame pitcher, and unlike some of his peers he appears to have done it without performance enhancing drugs (in fact was an outspoken advocate for ridding the game of steroids and other PEDs).
That the man might be a QAnon conspiracy believer, domestic terrorist sympathizer who equates the Capitol invasion with the summer’s racial-justice protests, and all-around crackpot who sometimes engages in inflammatory, potentially dangerous, rhetoric — that’s certainly at least debatable.
It’s also irrelevant to the Hall of Fame vote — even the part of the criteria that includes the instruction to consider “integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”
It’s long been established that a lot of bad people lacking anything close to high character have been elected to the Hall of Fame over the decades.
But that precedent also is irrelevant as a cover for any subsequent vote.
For example, I don’t vote for PED cheaters regardless of what other cheaters might already be in the Hall of Fame.
In fact, that speaks to the Schilling issue as much as anything.
PED users cheated the game, compromised its integrity and performed, by definition, with anything but sportsmanship and character during their careers. That’s what I believe. Other Hall of Fame voters don’t, and Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds continue to receive votes. So does Sammy Sosa (but that’s another column).
I covered several of Schilling’s starts in his career, including in the postseason, but I never covered his teams, and I don’t know him personally.
I don’t think I’d like him, but who knows? I know I watched players in other clubhouses openly mock him for being a look-at-me phony. And I know I don’t like what he purports to stand for. Plus there’s that whole jokes-about-hanging-journalists thing.
But who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame isn't about me, beyond trying to exercise best judgment on the player and the “sportsmanship and character” as it relates to teammates, opponents, effort and the integrity of the game.
What the guy does after he’s done playing and the fool he chooses to play off the field has nothing to do with it.
He might even get in this year — it’s possible he could be the year’s only selection — when the vote is announced Tuesday.
But then again how will any of us convince him that election wasn't rigged, too? A bunch of lib journalists voting for an alt-right, second-Amendment, Dem-baiting "patriot?"
How would he explain that one?