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.