This year’s Hall of Fame ballot is full of fascinating questions: Will Tim Raines make it in his final chance? How will Bud Selig’s induction affect suspected PED users, mainly Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens? Do the first-year players like Ivan Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero have a chance?
But the most fascinating overall person might actually be Curt Schilling. Early returns indicate he won’t get elected and, in fact, he probably won’t get near the 52.3 percent of the vote he received last year. Some of that is a crowded ballot and a 10-vote limit. Some of that is Schilling continuinsly giving people reasons not to like him.
Schilling is giving us a new, modern lens through which to consider a potential Hall of Famer: What will voters do when a great player turns into a social-media bully after his playing days? And how will Schilling — an outspoken man, even to the detrainment of his baseball broadcasting career — react as the votes slip away?
So far, the answer is: He’ll be the same ol’ Curt Schilling, calling people out by name and pulling no punches. In a great story at ESPN, Jerry Crasnick examines whether Schilling is tweeting his way out of Cooperstown. And Schilling is as unfiltered as always in his response to the matter (more on that in a minute).
In theory, what happens on Schilling’s social media account shouldn’t matter. But baseball’s Hall of Fame vote includes that character clause, which is what makes baseball’s Hall of Fame vote an annual circus. It’s why we have these debates about Bonds and Clemens and why this year, a number of voters — 14, according to Ryan Thibodaux’s fantastic Hall of Fame ballot tracker — have retracted their support of Schilling. He fell well short of the necessary 75 percent last year, so even though 14 votes isn’t a ton, any downward trend is bad.
Some of the voters who have checked Schilling’s name in the past but didn’t this year cite his November tweet where he endorsed a T-shirt about lynching journalists. Schilling maintains it was a joke. If so, not the wisest joke to appeal to Hall of Fame voters, who are all journalists.
Schilling took aim at some Hall of Fame voters in ESPN’s story, especially the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy and Wallace Matthews of NY Sports Day, both of whom have withdrawn their support of Schilling’s candidacy. Matthews said he would stop voting altogether.
“The Hall of Fame vote, to people like Dan and Wallace Matthews and Jon Heyman, is power to them,” Schilling told ESPN.com. “That’s how it works when you give weak people power. They want to ‘hold it over me’ or something like that? Please. An arbitrary process done by some of the most vindictive and spiteful humans I’ve ever known? One I stopped having control over nine years ago?
“I sleep fine. My three World Series rings, trophies and 20-some years of amazing memories are all mine, and always will be.”
What makes this even more interesting: Schilling is going in a much different direction than Bonds and Clemens, who have gained nine and 10 votes, respectively, in the public ballots thus far. None of them will probably get elected this year, but Clemens and Bonds at least seem to be going in the right direction. In fact, our own Jeff Passan estimates they’ll get in eventually.
But Schilling sees a distinct difference between himself and Bonds and Clemens. He told ESPN they ruined peoples’ lives and he hasn’t.
“I hate bullies, and I hate people who make other people feel bad on purpose. Clemens? Bonds? They ruined people’s lives to keep their legacies, which they eventually lost. I’ve never in my life done, nor will do, anything remotely close to something like that.
“I know who I am, and this has been an amazing teaching opportunity for my children, and especially my three sons. They know me, so when they read about ‘racism’ and the other bulls— people spew, it affords us a ton of opportunity to talk about how the real world works.”
When Schilling, a very proud Donald Trump supporter, was on our podcast earlier this year, we asked him if he had to choose only one thing — getting in the Hall of Fame or Trump winning the presidency — which it would be.
He picked a Trump win. And good thing, because it doesn’t look like the Hall of Fame part will come true this year — and maybe not while Trump is in office.
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