The hell with the Hall of Fame

The National Baseball Hall of Fame voters have decided, collectively, not to elect anyone to the Hall this year. Curt Schilling came the closest to obtaining the required 75 percent of the votes. He collected 71.1 percent, falling 16 votes short.

Schilling’s exclusion is a travesty. He clearly had a Hall of Fame caliber career. As I wrote last year around this time:

Schilling’s career WAR (wins above replacement player) is 80.5. That’s just behind Bob Gibson and just ahead of Tom Glavine and Carl Hubbell. All three are generally considered upper tier Hall of Famers.

Like Gibson, Schilling boasts an exquisite post-season record. He went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP (walks plus hits over innings pitched) in 19 starts and 133.3 career playoff innings. Schilling won three World Series rings, was named MVP of the 1993 NLCS, and co-MVP of the 2001 World Series (with Randy Johnson).

Moreover, Schilling engaged in no baseball-related misconduct that could justify his exclusion. He didn’t throw games like Shoeless Joe Jackson. He didn’t bet on games like Pete Rose. There is no indication that he used performance enhancing drugs like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Schilling was excluded because of his politics. The Washington Post concedes this.

Joe Posnanski of the Athletic had voted for Schilling’s admission every year since the pitcher became eligible. This year he did not vote for Schilling.

What changed? Not Schilling’s stats. Not his political stances or comments. What changed is the political environment in the most contentious year of the Trump presidency — impeachment, BLM, the election, etc. What changed is the increased audacity of the cancel culture.

Posnanski insists that he didn’t blackball Schilling because the pitcher is conservative. He notes his support for Mariano Rivera, another conservative, who was elected to the Hall unanimously.

This reminds of when anti-Semites used to say, “some of my best friends are Jewish.” Yes, but a certain kind of Jewish. Or, in Posnanski’s case, a certain kind of conservative.

It shouldn’t matter, for purposes of the Hall of Fame, what kind of conservative a candidate is. It shouldn’t matter what his political beliefs and pronouncements are — whether about transgender individuals or anything else.

Anti-Schilling writers cite the language in the Hall of Fame instructions saying that voters should consider the “integrity, sportsmanship [and] character” of candidates. This language provides a basis for excluding Joe Jackson, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and maybe Pete Rose, if voters see fit to do so.

However, if the “character” language is going to be used to exclude some conservatives for their political speech, then to hell with the Hall of Fame.

Curt Schilling now feels the same way. He has asked that his name be withdrawn from the writers’ ballot next year — the last in which he is eligible for election by the writers. Why give leftist sportswriters the opportunity to signal their “virtue” by not voting for him?

The left has marched steadily through our institutions — academia, the media (including sports pages), the corporate world. Now it has marched through the Hall of Fame. Baseball fans should no longer take the Hall seriously. Conservative fans should ignore it entirely.

Ironically, Schilling’s fame will be magnified by the writers’ snub. His name will come up whenever the Hall of Fame is discussed and his credentials frequently will be recited. He will not recede from the public’s consciousness, as he would have had he been enshrined at Cooperstown.

Curt Schilling has achieved baseball immortality.

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