Despite no connection to steroids, Curt Schilling has become one of the most controversial players on the Hall of Fame ballot. It’s not his stats that makes him a contentious candidate — it’s his mouth.
As the Baseball Writers Association of America showed Wednesday, the things you say after your career is over has little to no bearing on your Hall of Fame chances. Schilling ultimately came up short for the Hall of Fame in 2018, but he was among the players to see gains in the voting.
Schilling finished with 51.2 percent of the vote, falling short of the 75 percent threshold. That’s a slight increase over 2017, when Schilling saw his vote total tumble to 45 percent.
That’s all water under the bridge now for voters. After a year of being punished by the electorate, the voters have essentially restored Schilling to his prior standing. The pitcher received 52.3 percent of the vote in 2016.
Considering Schilling’s gains, perhaps it’s worth revisiting what caused him to lose those votes in the first place, and what he managed to do to win voters back in 2017.
• Aug. 25, 2015: Schilling tweets out a meme comparing extremist Muslims to Nazis. He deletes it shortly after posting it, but is suspended by ESPN. Schilling takes responsibility on Twitter, saying he needs to “think a bit before acting on that one.”
• Aug. 26, 2015: Schilling is temporarily removed from Sunday Night Baseball for sharing that meme.
• Sep. 5, 2015: Schilling is suspended from Sunday Night Baseball for the rest of the season after clarifying why he posted that meme in a letter to Awful Announcing. ESPN was unaware of Schilling’s plans to send that email, and suspended him.
• Oct. 13, 2015: Schilling says ISIS won the presidential debate.
• March 1, 2016: Schilling says Hillary Clinton should be “buried under a jail.”
• April 19, 2016: Schilling defends sharing an anti-transgender meme on his Facebook page. He blames the media for making a big deal of his comments in a post on his personal website titled “The hunt to be offended…”
• April 20, 2016: Schilling is fired from ESPN after repeated violations of their conduct policy.
• Oct 13, 2016: Schilling makes some really weird comments while trying to defend Donald Trump saying, “I’m going to be dating her in 10 years” in reference to a 10-year-old beauty pageant contestant.
• Nov. 7, 2016: Schilling replies “Ok, so much awesome here …” to Twitter picture featuring a t-shirt advocating lynching journalists.
• Jan 3, 2017: Schilling says he would be in the Hall of Fame if he said “lynch Trump.”
• Jan. 18, 2017: Schilling sees his Hall of Fame vote total drop from 52.3 percent to 45 percent. He says he’s fine with not making the Hall because he has rings, trophies and memories. He then argues with a fake Sidney Ponson account on Twitter.
• May 4, 2017: Schilling says Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is lying about hearing racial taunts while playing in Boston. He says, “I think this is bulls–t. I think this is somebody creating a situation.” The Red Sox apologize to Jones and start cracking down on racist behavior from their fans.
• May 18, 2017: Schilling refuses to take Jones at his word, saying, “If [Jones] wants to maintain the lie he made here, that’s fine.” He claims Jones is lying because he “has an agenda.”
• Dec. 29, 2017: Schilling’s podcast with a congressional candidate who has ties to white supremacy is deleted as Breitbart attempts to distance itself from that candidate. Schilling called himself “a fan” of the candidate during the interview.
Voters opted to punish Schilling for his comments last year, but he somehow found a way to get back into their good graces in 2017.
With four years of eligibility left on the ballot, Schilling has a decent shot to get in eventually. That used to come with a caveat warning that Schilling could sabotage himself with his words, but the voters showed in 2017 that no longer applies.
– – – – – – –
Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik
More Hall of Fame coverage from Yahoo Sports: