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Couch: Conservative Beliefs, Not Performance, Are Keeping Curt Schilling From Cooperstown

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I remember the bloody sock game. The nation was watching. Curt Schilling was pitching hurt for the Boston Red Sox. It was October of 2004, and the Red Sox were coming back after losing the first three games of the AL Championship Series to their rival, the New York Yankees.

Schilling had had a tendon surgically repaired, apparently temporarily sewn into the skin around his ankle to hold it in place. So he was able to pitch Game 6. He kept going and going, his white sock bloody. The cameras kept zooming in on it. Schilling was heroic. And as the drama of the night built, you couldn’t help but to wonder one thing:

What does Schilling think about the Iraq War?

Of course, that isn’t true. I couldn’t have cared less about what Schilling thought about anything that night or, for that matter, anything he thinks about tonight. I was just thinking, “Oh my God! How much more can he do? Will the ankle hold up?” It did. He won. And Boston went on to win the World Series and break the Curse of the Bambino.

Schilling is responsible for one of the great and iconic moments in baseball history. He was one of the all-time great postseason pitchers and had more than 3,000 regular-season strikeouts in his career.

Yet tonight, we’re going to find out if he has been passed over for the ninth time for a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s going to be close. About 46 percent of the ballots have been made public and of those, Schilling is getting 75 percent of the vote. That number, 75 percent, is the minimum needed. But in the past, players on the borderline lose a percent or two when the ballots that weren’t made public are added in. 

In other words: Schilling probably won’t make it. And why is that? Because he likes Donald Trump. And because his support of things like what happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6 turns off baseball writers.

(UPDATE: Schilling did not make it. He received 71.1 percent.)

Cancel culture? Yes, if Schilling is canceled. He should definitely be in the Hall of Fame. But the baseball writers who vote on this want to be thought police, too.

This is a big moment for the Hall of Fame, and maybe for the whole idea of cancel culture. The Hall ballot says: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.’’

Voters — longtime baseball writers — have been struggling over the “integrity, sportsmanship, character” part for years. That’s why Pete Rose isn’t in. He bet on the game, which directly affected the integrity of the sport. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, accused in the steroid scandal, will likely not be voted in tonight either. They cheated the game.

But Schilling? He’s being kept out because the writers don’t like how he votes, how he thinks and how he talks. I’m not just guessing either. In the days before the Hall vote the past few years, this year included, writers have explained why they didn’t vote for Schilling.

They basically say that they think he’s a bad guy. I’d go over some of the things he has said, but the truth is, they shouldn’t matter. He’s far conservative.

This is one step too far for the voters. Even if you hate what Schilling stands for, his opinions didn’t affect the integrity of the game in any way. 

He is just accused of not thinking the way baseball writers want him to think. If Schilling didn’t do things like make fun of transgender people or compare Muslims to Nazis, he’d already be in the Hall.

Honestly, some of the things he has said have put me off, too. On the way, he has made himself into a professional victim, turning the vote against him into a cottage industry.

The truth is that the baseball writers have been asked to vote, meaning they’re asked for their opinions on his integrity and character. 

Schilling has basically become the equivalent of a talk radio guy trying to shock people, trying to push his comments as close to the line as possible without going over. He makes fun of people and then pretends that he doesn’t know why they’d be upset about it. It was just a joke, after all.

The First Amendment works great for him. He has the ability to make a living saying what he wants to say and how he wants it. No one is stopping him. 

He has the right to think what he thinks, and the reporters have the right to think what they think. And ESPN, owned by Disney, had the right to fire him when he started saying things they didn’t want associated with Mickey Mouse.

When people say things just to get a rise out of others and then pretend they’re victims because they got a rise out of people, that seems like a racket to me, whether coming from a conservative or a liberal.

But I sure loved watching him pitch.

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Written by Greg Couch

Greg earned the 2007 Peter Lisagor Award as the best sports columnist in the Chicagoland area for his work with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a college football writer in 1997 before becoming a general columnist in 2003. He also won a Lisagor in 2016 for his commentary in RollingStone.com and The Guardian.

Couch penned articles and columns for CNN.com/Bleacher Report, AOL Fanhouse, and The Sporting News and contributed as a writer and on-air analyst for FoxSports.com and Fox Sports 1 TV. In his journalistic roles, Couch has covered the grandest stages of tennis from Wimbledon to the Olympics, among numerous national and international sporting spectacles. He also won first place awards from the U.S. Tennis Writers Association for his event coverage and column writing on the sport in 2010.

37 Comments

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  1. Favre endorsed out for Trump.

    I wonder what his Hall of Fame ballot would look like now compared to 2016?

    I remember reading Peter King fawning over him when he was at SI. I wonder if he still has a man crush on him?

  2. Appreciate the fair minded article. Orlando Cepeda was arrested for smuggling drugs through an airport, for threatening someone with a gun, was tied up in drug cartels, went to prison…and he was voted in. Juan Marichal tried to kill another player with a bat on the field and was voted in. I’m sure there are other stories of HOFers with low character who writers had no issue voting in.

    Curt Schilling pushes back against caving into the demands of mentally ill people demanding we collectively agree to ignore human biology, and he’s unfit to represent mlb. I see. I suppose being rejected by hypocrites who relate well with the insane is technically a compliment.

  3. To be clear, he did not compare all Muslims to Hitler, or to anyone for that matter. His comparison was of extremist Muslims (the ones who like to blow up buildings and have publicly stated they want to kill all Jews and Christians) to Nazis. This is why conservatives don’t trust liberals or the liberal media. They distort the actual words to the point where now people walk around thinking he said all Muslims are Hitler, which was not at all what he said

  4. THE FOLLOWING PLAYERS SHOULD EARN INDUCTION TO THE BASE BALL HALL-O-FAME IN THIS ORDER OF PRIORITY: ROSE, BONDS, CLEMENS, SCHILLING. ‘INTEGRITY’ CLAUSE BE DAMMED (sic). The Hall isn’t a club for former Boy Scouts. Major League Baseball is a *grown man’s* game and, despite the prickly/boorish personalities of R/B/C/S, you can’t accurately tell the story of MLB between 1960 and 2010 without those four players. THEY’RE ALL HALL-OF-FAMERS, if you ask me…😐

  5. Hall of Fame voting has gotten beyond stupid. Virtue signaling “journalists” who think their vote is about themselves more than the players that actually played the game. It should just be a fan vote. At the end of the day, the HoF is supposed to just be fun.

  6. The media can push the narrative that Muslim terrorist, Iran, Iraq, Syria, etc is the biggest threat to Americans. I cold heartedly disagree, left-wings liberals are our biggest threat.

    They are evil, intolerant, vicious and vile human beings who won’t rest until they destroy anyone who disagrees with them and their ideology.

    • It’s been done in other sports. In motorsports for example there are several different halls of fame. Also there’s a United States Hockey Hall of Fame that is just for American athletes. It’d be pretty easy to start a United States Baseball Hall of Fame. Some southern state with easy tax laws and a good labor base could pull that together fast!!

  7. It’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Morality. These nutjobs that are on the committee now need to lose their privilege to vote. I think it’s funny that, during their playing careers, players were voted into the All Star game by the FANS. Now, I don’t always agree with who gets in because it’s mostly a popularity contest and we’re voting on who had a good 1st half of the season, not the entirety of the season, but, why don’t the fans at least get a say as to who might get into the Hall of Fame? Shouldn’t the voting go equally to the media, ex-players and coaches and the fans? Just a question I have and my humble opinion

    • Saying Schilling was using hate speech. It was an opinion that those on the left didn’t agree with. It’s whatever. Sports has always been my passion/hobby/happy place, but it’s starting to turn me off a little

  8. Put him in the Hall of Fame and asterisk him, just like Bonds and Rose. Put up a plaque as to why he was asterisk’ed and let the fans decide if they want to honor him by taking a selfie with his bust. In 20 years, that plaque will probably look pretty stupid.

  9. i would love to hear any democrat describe exactly one bad policy by Trump? One!!!? Kurt Schiling doesn’t need the HOF.

    Trump will go down as the greatest POTUS in history; every move he made, made America better. explain what conservatives are wrong about?

    Trump’s biggest mistake appears to be letting Dr Fauci and his girlfriend dr Birx, run that daily media virus show. now the highest paid federal employee is saying wear two masks. he is 80 and Biden now works for him.

    HOF in all sports are screwed up and will get worse if race and politics continue to divide.

    a very small loud minority of social media milenial women are running our popular culture. and they don’t watch sports or care about competition.

    OJ is in the football HOF. Still SMDH

  10. Curt Schilling should point out how many newspapers are closing because of this politically correct crap in sports and “journalism” today. The HOF is irrelevant to me. I grew up a reader and purchaser of newspapers, especially the Sunday one. I haven’t for years and don’t miss them because theyre almost all leftist rags. If Schilling is left out of the HOF it’s because the modern HOF is as irrelevant as a Nobel Peace Prize.

  11. To me, the baseball HOF is becoming as irrelevant as the Rock n Roll HOF. There are voters who don’t respect certain types of music (i.e. progressive rock) and fail to induct great bands, yet overrated bands with the correct political positions get fawned over (i.e. Green Day). Same with baseball now.

  12. There are a few guys I’d agree with that shouldn’t be in the HOF because of their actions on the field (Pete Rose, or the ones taking roids)

    But if your HOF vote now is based on how the guy’s politics makes you feel rather than his merits on the field…you’ve lost all credibility.

  13. That’s where we’re at now. To be voted in the HOF you better have the stats and you better not say anything to piss off a woke sports writer. I’m guessing Schilling is giving them the middle finger.

    • To think ink stained wretches who spent their time in journo school learning how to tear down people and create perception determines whether or not you were one of the greatests players on the field is pretty laughable.

  14. How evil leftist politics was allowed to infect sports is mind boggling. The terrorist cult known as the DemocRat party poisons and destroys everything it touches. Athletes, coaches and owners becoming fake protesting communist drama queen bitch cowards has all by ruined my enjoyment of sports. I quit the communist Chinese shitshow NBA a few years ago. Baseball is just a blip. My interest in the NFL has been reduced to just watching Charger games with the volume on the divisive shitbag announcers turned way down. Hockey hasnt been quite as bad as the others. Golf has preety much steered clear of the Hitler/Stalin/BurnLootMurder/Big Tech criminal crowd.
    We need to completely remove the poison of politics out of sports or I quit.

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