Curt Schilling, a former ace pitcher for teams like the Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox, says he was snubbed in this year’s election to the Baseball Hall of Fame because he’s a Republican.
In an interview with a Boston radio station, Schilling gave several reasons why he wasn’t elected this year while former Atlanta Braves starter John Smoltz made the cut. After praising Smoltz’s abilities, and the “14 straight pennants” his Braves won, Schilling then theorized that “some people don’t really like” that he’s a Republican, and would prefer to vote for a Democrat like Smoltz.
Except the Braves did not win 14 straight pennants (they did win 14 straight division titles), and Smoltz is a also Republican. In fact, the Cy Young winning pitcher has donated to a number of Republican candidates, compared gay marriage to bestiality and was even urged to run for Congress for the GOP in 2010.
The fact is, Schilling’s exclusion isn’t about his politics or even the fact that his video game company’s recent bankruptcy caused Rhode Island taxpayers to lose $75 million. Instead, it’s simply about the dysfunctional nature of the Hall of Fame itself.
Under the current rules, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, the group that selects inductees, can vote for no more than 10 players to be inducted at a time. However, more than 20 players on the ballot this year were probably worthy of being enshrined in Cooperstown. The result has created a major logjam, aggravated by the ongoing debate over whether the Hall of Fame should include known users of performance enhancing drugs. This has meant using players who otherwise would be surefire Hall of Famers, like alleged steroid users Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, have lingered on the ballot and created a roadblock.
Schilling is right to be annoyed he hasn’t made it while Smoltz skated through. By most statistical measures, Schilling had a better career than Smoltz, who benefited from being on dominant Braves teams alongside greats like Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, both of whom easily won election to Cooperstown last year. Smoltz also had the advantage of spending several years as a dominant closer for the Braves, which meant he is the only pitcher in baseball history to accumulate 200 wins and 150 saves.
But Schilling is a strong Hall of Fame candidate and will eventually be inducted in Cooperstown, although it will still likely take a few years for him to make it as the ballot is still packed with candidates for enshrinement. Still, considering that there are no starting pitchers with credible Hall of Fame cases due to be added to the ballot until 2019, Schilling shouldn’t have to wait too much longer.
In the meantime, he should just accept that the holdup has nothing to do with his politics.