Curt Schilling, friend of the Sports Chowdah, came up roughly 5% shy of induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. Derek Jeter and Larry Walker were the only members of this year’s class. Jeter was a no-brainer (no qualm with him not being unanimous), Larry Walker is a nice player, numbers are better than I remember, I’m happy for him getting in on his final year on the ballot.
But was Larry Walker better than Curt Schilling? Absolutely not.
I realize that performance on the field isn’t the only thing that’ll coax votes from the crotchety baseball writers, who take time away from grumbling about stirrups and the lack of complete games, to vote for enshrinement.
Schilling is a lightning rod for political controversy, but next year the lightning rod might be the only beacon in a smog of thin ballots in 2021.
The top vote getters returning next year are Schilling, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. Nobody else could close the gap enough to get inducted a calendar from now. First ballot candidates? I’m glad you asked, but sorry to tell you the cupboard is pretty bare.
How does Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Aramis Ramirez and Torii Hunter grab you?
Writers don’t have much of a choice, it’s either induct Schilling by himself, give him a live microphone for the entire ceremony or give him some friends to join him. Namely Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. If that happens then how far as we from Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez? Not too far, I’d imagine.
Because what baseball cannot have is what they had in 2013, when the fathers of Cooperstown inducted 3 from the veterans committee and ZERO from the modern day ballot.
How fun, sit out in the hot summer sun for 5 hours and watch people wax philosophical about an owner, an umpire and a player, each of whom passed away before WW II. (No offense to Jacob Rupert, Hank O’Day and Deacon White of course.)
The voters are in a tough spot and if history has taught us anything, it is that they’ll likely make the unpopular decision over compromising their complex set of morals. Schilling will get in (finally) and Omar Visquel and Todd Helton will probably make inexplicable leaps into the hallowed halls.
You know, so Schilling doesn’t get too much attention or too much time with that live mic.
By Sterling Pingree