Curt Schilling is hurt. The stress is too much on his family, which has serious health concerns. But he wants to express his “gratitude and sincere appreciation’’ and. . .
Hold on a minute. Curt Schilling? Schilling didn’t get into the Baseball Hall of Fame Tuesday night, and I wrote earlier in the day why I felt he should be in and why voters were unfairly about to leave him out.
But suddenly, his personality changed, and the tough guy who pounds his political beliefs down everyone’s throat and doesn’t care who he steps on along the way — doesn’t care who he makes the butt of his jokes — suddenly made a pitch for sympathy. He has just one shot left at the Hall, next year, before he is handed over to the veterans committee.
“I will not participate in the final year of voting,’’ he wrote in a 1,200-word letter to the Hall of Fame. Schilling shared that letter on Facebook. “I am requesting to be removed from the ballot. I defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player.’’
I’m sorry, but no. I mean, yes, Schilling should be in the Hall of Fame. Yes, I’m sorry his family has health issues. Yes, I just wrote to defend him as a player.
But no, I’m not willing to feel sorry for him.
The stress on him and on his family from the Hall of Fame votes is something he is responsible for, not the baseball writers who vote for the Hall of Fame.
Look, Schilling was clearly a good enough player to be in the Hall, surpassing the magic number of 3,000 strikeouts as well as being a dominant big-game pitcher, including the famous bloody-sock game in the AL Championship Series. They had to sew his ankle tendons in place so he could pitch. And he did pitch. Brilliantly. With blood oozing onto his sock. It was a great moment in American sports history.
The writers don’t like him because he likes Donald Trump and because he is so forceful and at times uncaring in the way he displays conservative beliefs. It is not the way the media want their baseball players to think.
Most infamously was his tweet of a t-shirt that said “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required.’’ And one comparing Muslims to Nazis. And one making fun of transgender people.
Yet he wrote that he was “Never malicious’’ and that he never “willfully or intentionally hurt another person.’’
He’s entitled to his beliefs, and those personal beliefs shouldn’t keep him out of the Hall of Fame. They didn’t affect the integrity of the game the way the steroid cheats did. He can believe what he wants and say what he wants, but if you’re going to run over people, don’t come back later looking for sympathy.
“The game has made it clear it does not want me back and that’s fine,’’ Schilling said. “(T)he game owes me exactly nothing. It gave a billion more times than it took and I’ll forever be deeply in debt to it. My desire to work with and teach young men the art of pitching will be tucked away.’’
He talked about the pain of seeing his wife “go through the grueling soul crushing process of chemotherapy and see her hurt every time some idiot writes another hit piece . . .’’
“But to see the hurt I’m causing my wife and to have my children read and hear this stuff and then look at me and try and match a public ‘image’ that in no way aligns with the man their father is has been something I never considered.’’
Schilling got 71.1 percent of the writers’ votes when he needed 75 to get in. He said he wrote that letter to the Hall on Monday when he realized from those votes that had been made public that he wasn’t going to make it.
He is right about being wronged by the writers. And now baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and the sport will be able to celebrate its hero, Derek Jeter, at the next induction ceremony without having to worry about Schilling stomping all over things and creating controversy.
Jeter was voted in last year, but COVID delayed the ceremony. So now Jeter will be in and Schilling won’t. And neither will suspected steroid cheats Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who also didn’t get in Tuesday.
So I don’t know if the baseball writers will actually allow Schilling to be removed from the ballot next year. They should have voted him in already. He deserves it.
That much I’ll give him.