Thank goodness spring training and the baseball season is upon us because the bad taste left from the recent Hall of Fame voting results lingers.
When pitchers and catchers report to camps in preparation for what is scheduled to be a 154-game campaign, perhaps the unfair and unreasonable ramifications of the HOF revelations might dissipate.
No one was selected to enter Cooperstown season by the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who vote each year.
You always can make arguments on the merits of the contenders. But there’s one player who has gained ground each year only to fall short. And he fell short by a slim margin again this time.
His name is Curt Schilling. And to many writers who make up the panel, and I’m certain to many in the public, he’s unlikeable.
That’s because he speaks his mind. Often forcefully. And what he says doesn’t fit with the beliefs of the writers, who decide who gets in and who does not.
I’m trying not to be political about all of this, but I know I’m going to miss the mark.
First, let’s discuss Curt Schilling’s resume.
He won 216 games in his 20-year career, a good deal of it with mediocre Phillies teams. He struck out 3,116 batters.
He was a big part in a pair of memorable World Series triumphs by the Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox.
He is an outspoken Conservative, and as we know, that rubs the media the wrong way.
This is not a matter of conjecture. It is fact. To claim that is not the case, is simply ignoring the obvious. You can dislike, even hate, anyone who holds political office. You can disagree with policy all you want. That is anyone’s right.
It is also anyone’s right to express their opinions. It’s called freedom of speech.
Curt Schilling’s views may be appalling to many. It’s their right.
But it is not right to decide the fate of a player’s performance to be worthy of the Hall of Fame on that basis.
The writers who vote, should vote solely on a candidate’s credentials, not their personal thoughts.
On that basis, Schilling should be admitted.
As a post-script, Schilling has requested his name be removed from the 2022 ballot, the final year of voting.
His admission would be left to the veterans committee, which the pitcher claims are in a better position to judge a player.
I agree that former players are better judges for the Hall of Fame than the media.
This brings us to those who have been shut out because of their use of performance-enhancing drugs.
There are several who fit this category. Some of those have been giants of the game.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and Alex Rodriguez to name a few.
Because they cheated, they should not be in the HOF.
For many years, I’ve contended that there still might be a way of recognizing their greatness, and they were great players despite their illegal actions, by noting on their plaques that they performed during baseball’s steroid era.
The plaque is the significant symbol for every player in the Hall of Fame.
That would duly recognize them, and put in perspective their status, for all the youngsters who visit the Hall, curious to what the athletes achieved on the field.
Taking illegal drugs was not the primary reason these players were among the greatest of all-time.
They were among the best, in any case, in my view.
Brady Anderson, for example, who played center-field and hit leadoff for several teams including the Orioles and Indians took performance-enhancing drugs and hit 50 home runs one season. In the nine seasons surrounding that year, with 430 at bats or more, Anderson averaged 17 home runs a season.
Not measuring his career solely on home runs, Brady Anderson was still not Hall of Fame material despite getting assistance.
Finally, the Pete Rose situation.
Rose was one of baseball’s most exciting players and collected more base hits, 4,256, than anyone in history.
But after his playing career, which spanned from 1963 through 1986, he became the manager of the Cincinnati Reds.
Rose was declared permanently ineligible from baseball, including induction into the Hall of Fame, amidst accusations he gambled on games while he played for and managed his own team.
After years of denial, Rose admitted he bet on baseball and on the Reds when he managed them.
Again, my views center on youngsters visiting the Hall of Fame shrine in Cooperstown, NY.
When they ask their fathers who had the most base hits in history, there should be recognition of Pete Rose’s major league performance. It was Hall of Fame quality, and then some.
It was in his role as a manager that Rose went off the rails.
Still, it can be argued, that what he did as a manager affected the integrity of the game.
Why would taking illegal substances be worse?
The entire subject of baseball Hall of Fame eligibility is worthy of discussion.
My opinion is that the great ones, and we know who they are, should be recognized as members.
Their time-honored plaques would tell the story. The good and the bad.
And it should include Curt Schilling, who’s bad side, to some, may be his views on the world, which have nothing to do with what he accomplished on the field.
Now, let’s play ball!