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!