It appears Curt Schilling’s politics are costing him Hall of Fame votes

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Last year Curt Schilling claimed that he wasn’t getting the same support for the Hall of Fame as John Smoltz because he was a Republican and Smoltz was a Democrat. That was kind of crazy, not least of why because Smoltz is not a Democrat. Either way, it seemed like Schilling was acting paranoid or deluded or playing the victim or some combination of the three.

Whatever was the case last year, however, this year it seems like Schilling is, in fact, losing votes because of his political views and/or public statements. At least that’s the argument Will Leitch, with an assist from the Hall of Fame vote tracking expertise of Ryan Thibodaux, is making. Or, if he’s not actually losing votes, he’s not gaining them at the same rate as everyone else. It’s an interesting analysis.

A couple of takeaways:

If Schilling is indeed losing votes, it doesn’t validate what he said last year about being a Republican. There had not been that much focus on Schilling’s social media habits before this past year, making those comments — and not his status as a Republican — the factor which has caused the damage. Also: being a Republican and holding the views Schilling appears to hold based on his social media posts are not the same thing. Also: there are LOTS of Republican baseball players. A distinct majority, I’d guess. If Schilling’s politics have cost him votes, it’s specific things he’s endorsed and statements he’s made, not his status as a member of the Republican party that has cost him.

A more important takeaway: Schilling should not be losing votes for ANYTHING he says. There is no reason whatsoever for Hall of Fame voters to judge Schilling’s candidacy on his statements or his actions which took place after he stopped throwing baseballs for a living. The character clause is dumb when it comes to PEDs. If the anti-Schilling voters are using it as a justification for not throwing support his way, it’s even dumber.

Of course, it’s possible that they’re not even going through the mental motions of applying the character clause to Schilling but, rather, are just not voting for him because they don’t like him or what he says. That would probably be the dumbest thing of all, even if it’s not unprecedented. Schilling may be the best player to have this happen to him, though. No matter what his vote totals have been the past few years and no matter what is happening to them now, he is clearly deserving of a Hall of Fame plaque.

Happy Hall of Fame week, everyone!

The Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2015 — #25: Curt Schilling’s Year in Social Media

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We’re a few short days away from 2016 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2015. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

Cancer kept Curt Schilling on the sidelines in 2014. Thankfully he fought and beat it and returned to the public eye in 2015. Boy howdy, did he make up for lost time.

In January he claimed that he didn’t get as many Hall of Fame votes as he should have — as many as, say, John Smoltz got — because he is a Republican. Never mind that Smoltz is a Republican too. In March he got praise for lowering the boom on a couple of awful people who tweeted vile and borderline criminal things about his daughter, getting one of them fired and causing a police investigation to be launched with respect to the other.

That stuff, however, was just a warmup for the main event: Schilling posting a tweet that equated Muslims to Nazis. He deleted it, but not before it created an uproar and brought considerable attention to Schilling’s habit of posting controversial political memes on Facebook and Twitter. In the past Schilling’s employer, ESPN, had largely ignored this stuff, but this time they were none too pleased, issuing a statement which said “Curt’s tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company’s perspective.” They immediately took him off of his assignment providing commentary for the Little League World Series.

More significantly, Schilling was suspended from his primary job, providing color commentary for Sunday Night Baseball. Which, while a bad thing for Schilling, was a good thing for Jessica Mendoza. Just days before Schilling’s social media controversy erupted Mendoza, the former Olympic softball player and studio analyst for ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight,” became became the first female in-game analyst for an MLB game on ESPN, contributing to a Diamondbacks-Cardinals game. After receiving praise for that assignment ESPN almost immediately slotted her into Schilling’s place on Sunday Night Baseball where she remained for the rest of the season.

Mendoza has gotten glowing reviews for her work in the ESPN booth and, while Schilling is under contract with ESPN for another year, it seems likely that she will continue in that role. For his part, Schilling has been shifted to studio work and continues to post controversial things on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

One gets the sense that, after his contract expires in 2016, he’ll have a lot more time for Facebook and Twitter. Which is sort of ironic, as his Twitter handle — Gehrig38 — is a tribute to Lou Gehrig while his social media habits got him Wally Pipped from his broadcasting job.

 

Curt Schilling likely getting subpoenaed today for his Rhode Island shenanigans

Curt Schilling
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At the outset, it’s probably worth noting that a state authority in Rhode Island can’t enforce a subpoena sent to a person in Massachusetts. And, even if you’re the most adamant Curt Schilling critic on the planet, it’s hard to argue against the notion that the overarching investigation from which this subpoena is coming seems to be some pretty obvious political grandstanding. They would’ve prosecuted him for something if they could’ve come up with something, but this, now, is a political body trying to make political hay out of a fat target, even if he is an understandably tempting one.

All of that said, it’s funny to imagine what sorts of tweets and Facebook posts Schilling will fire off once the subpoena actually comes to his door:

Rhode Island House Speaker Nick Mattiello will sign a subpoena Monday compelling Curt Schilling, founder of the failed video game company 38 Studios, to testify before the House Oversight Committee, which is examining the state’s $75 million deal with the company.

The committee voted unanimously Thursday to issue the subpoena, and Mattiello’s office confirmed Friday he will sign it next week.

Given his track record I expect Schilling to compare Rhode Island with various communist and/or fascist regimes or perhaps the Galactic Empire. Too bad he’s blocked me on every social media platform this side of Friendster. Someone tell me if anything good comes of it.

Curt Schilling is still Curt Schilling-ing

Curt Schilling
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You’d think a guy who got smacked down by his employer for making controversial and politically-charged tweets on social media would cool it on social media for a while. But it’s Curt Schilling here, and no one is gonna tell Curt Schilling what to do.

During last night’s Democratic debate, Donald Tump was live-Tweeting the proceedings because, hey, this is where we are in 2015. He did an OK job of live-Tweeting, actually, adding to my suspicion that he’s really just acting like a psychopath in the campaign for the yuks and, in reality, is going to be quite content to go back to being just a moderately loudmouthed BusinessTainment person soon. Time will tell.

At one point, Trump asked for people’s opinion about who was winning the debate. Hillary? Bernie? Webb? Those other two dudes who, God love ’em, ain’t gonna be around come February? Schilling weighed in:

 

Per that stuff about the anti-Chase Utley signs at Citi Field yesterday, I’m going to rule that this, likewise, is in the realm of actually somewhat darkly funny comedy. Sure, the person with the signs didn’t actually believe that Utley supports ISIS and Schilling probably believes what he’s saying here, but that’s not a big deal. The net effect of it all is a laugh, so that distinction is not really important.

But one does wonder how ESPN feels about Schilling continuing to beat his drum like this. And, for that matter, whether Schilling doing so is itself a way of challenging them to do something about him like, say, making him some sort of free speech martyr who will command handsome speaking fees at the sorts of meetups where people who think your employer being displeased at you for something you say is an actual violation of your First Amendment rights.

For now, though, ESPN is not commenting. They’re probably too busy moving the “Jessica Mendoza: Sunday Night Baseball” graphics from the “temporary” directory to the “permanent” directory.

Curt Schilling to return to ESPN for the postseason

Curt Schilling
AP Photo/Steven Senne
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ESPN has confirmed that Curt Schilling — suspended in late August for a tweet equating Muslims to Nazis — will return to the network’s airwaves for postseason coverage on Baseball Tonight. He will not be in the booth for ESPN’s live broadcast of the American League Wild Card Game.

They do not broadcast any other postseason baseball.

Schilling has one year left on his contract with ESPN and told reporters Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway that he doesn’t expect he’ll be moving on over the winter. But it’s not clear whether Schilling is going to return to Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts in 2016 or remain in a studio role.

Jessica Mendoza has been filling in with Dan Shulman and John Kruk. She seems pretty popular.