Don’t Let Schilling’s Tweets overshadow his dominance

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling walks onto the infield at Fenway Park prior to a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves in Boston, Wednesday, May 28, 2014. The Red Sox honored the 2004 World Series team prior to the game. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Curt Schilling is getting screwed over by Hall of Fame voters.  There I said it.   Not because he is a surefire Hall of Famer, but because he is losing votes this year at a rampant pace because of his social media presence.  Something (social media) that didn’t even exist when it mattered; like when he pitched.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick noted Ryan Thibodaux, who runs a popular Hall of Fame tracker that tallies writer votes, has counted 80 writers who have made their ballots public in advance of the Dec. 31 deadline. Among that group, Schilling has picked up four votes from last year while losing 14, for a net difference of minus-10.

Do I think Schilling is a Hall of Famer? Yes.  But, barely.   His postseason dominance was apparent long before one of his average yet most infamous postseason starts with a bloody sock.   7 innings, 1 run against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.  Prior to that start Schilling had pitched at least 7 innings in eight previous postseason starts, including four complete games in THE PLAYOFFS.  Unheard of nowadays.  He actually performed better in a regular season game against the Yankees seven years earlier, but we’ll get to that later.

From the eye test to me, Schilling was the 3rd or 4th best pitcher of his generation.   Pedro Martinez was the best.  Randy Johnson was 2nd.  Personally, Schilling was 3rd ahead of Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine who all had the luxury of pitching for the Braves Dynasty.  Only Hall of Famer Smoltz comes close to Schilling in terms of postseason excellence.   In the postseason: Smoltz 15-4, 2.67 ERA.  Schilling 11-2, 2.23 ERA.  Smoltz’ team was 17-10 in his starts.  Schilling’s teams were 14-5.  First ballot hall of famer Greg Maddux was 11-14 in the playoffs with a 3.27 ERA.  Maddux started 30 postseason games and his team only won 13 of them.  Schilling started 19 games and his teams won 14.  Tom Glavine was 14-16 in postseason starts with a 3.30 ERA.  His teams were 18-17 in games he started.

The thing is Schilling played on bad teams until he forced his way to Arizona.  Hey Vicente Padilla won 14 games twice for the Phillies.  The Phillies also received Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa and Travis Lee, we’ll they are comparable to the Charles Barkley trade in 1992 where the 76ers received Tim Perry, Jeff Hornacek and Andrew Lang.  You are welcome Arizona.

Schilling didn’t really start playing full-time in the major leagues until 1990.  From 1990 until 2000 when he was traded to Arizona, Schilling’s teams were over .500 just once in 1993.  That team was actually good.  The Phillies won the National League beating the Braves along the way.  You know the Joe Carter year.    That is when Schilling actually kept his mouth shut for the good of the game.    People believe the steriod era began with Bonds, Canseco and McGwire in the mid to late 90’s.  I’m here to tell you the ’93 Phillies were my favorite team ever.  Think the cowboy up ’04 Red Sox but with more testosterone.  I won’t accuse guys, but several players bulked up and had the best years of their careers to never be heard from again.  The dude (Lenny Dykstra) even said in spring training he used some “real good vitamins.”  Thanks to Jayson Stark for that article in 2005.

Schilling known for his mouth and arm didn’t and hasn’t said a word about that team.  Why? To protect the game and his clubhouse.   In 2005, Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro went in front of Congress to talk steroids. McGwire didn’t talk.  Sosa and Palmeiro lied.  Schilling said, “Members of the Committee, do I believe steroids are being used by Major League Baseball players? Yes.”

Since its clear Schilling, who didn’t even begin as a starting pitcher until he was 25, is at least a borderline Hall of Famer on the field (52.3% of the votes last year). Let’s talk about what he’s done off the field.  He is already a Hall of Famer in the ALS association.  You know the disease that’s better known as Lou Gehrig disease.  Not many players dedicate their time or energy to a cause and Schilling is a winner here.

Yes he has said some stupid things and made some unforgivable tweets. But so has our President-Elect and 30 states voted for him.  Schilling may never win the popular vote, but to me he is worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown.

Baseball writers who voted for Schilling in the past and are bailing on him now are hypocrites.   If they wanted to make a stand they should have boycotted voting until accused child molester sports writer Bill Conlin was removed from Cooperstown, instead of boycotting Schilling.

Schilling never cheated.  There is no *.   His resume speaks for itself.   To me he is hall worthy.   Don’t let his twitter account influence your vote.   Go and watch “Schill” pitch for a 68 win Phillies team against a 96 win Yankees team in ‘97 in Veterans Stadium on Labor Day.  Way out of the playoff picture, Schilling went 8 innings, struck out 16 and walked none, his calling card.  He did give up 1 run, but the Phillies won 5-1.   Schilling won 17 games that year, 25% of the Phillies wins.     Not Steve Carlton in 1972, but close.

So if you think Schilling was just a postseason stud, which he was, remember that game, I was there, in the 700 level with my $5 ticket watching a Hall of Fame pitcher dominate a playoff team.

Ryan Walsh is an investigative reporter for WWLP-TV.  For ten years he was a solely a sports journalist where he won several Associated Press awards for his reporting.  In the past three years, he has won two Massachusetts Broadcasters Association awards for sports reporting although his main focus is on investigative reporting.  Ryan has covered two Super Bowls, three World Series and worked in Binghamton, New York covering the Jones family when they were in high school (Jon, Art and Chandler).