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Right Wing Pitcher Loses Hall Of Fame Bid

Lorianne DiSabato via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

For the last few years now, the political right in this country has reveled in the slogans “shut up and dribble” or “stick to sports” with those terms invoked to silence athletes of a liberal bent from using their fame to advocate for progressive causes.

It’s interesting, perhaps even humorous then, to witness what is happening with former pitcher Curt Schilling. 

The right hander, who got his big league start here in Baltimore, came up four percentage points short of being voted into the Hall of Fame when ballots cast by baseball writers were tabulated last week.

By numbers alone, Schilling would seem to be a lock for enshrinement in Cooperstown. He’s a six-time All Star and three time world champion, sharing World Series Most Valuable Player honors with Randy Johnson when the pair helped lead Arizona to the title in 2001.

Schilling is one of only 16 pitchers in baseball history to strike out 3,000 batters for their career. Only two players on that list who are eligible for the Hall of Fame are not already there.

One of them is Roger Clemens and the other is Schilling. Both came up short when voting was released last week, but for very different reasons.

Clemens, who has won a record seven Cy Young Awards, has been suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs, rendering his candidacy toxic for many voters. 

Schilling, on the other hand, finds himself on the perimeter of baseball immortality because of his seeming inability or unwillingness to keep his opinions in check,

Six years ago, Schilling compared Muslims to Nazis in a tweet that drew a suspension from his ESPN analyst job.  A year later, Schilling let loose with a meme and Facebook posts that were anti-transgender.

Schilling was fired from the worldwide leader and set out on a victimhood tour, claiming that he had been made a scapegoat for having views that were anti-PC.

Schilling has kept to that stance even up to the present day, when he tweeted out support for the mob which attempted to overtake the U.S. Capitol last month.

His views were posted after Hall of Fame voting closed, but a number of voters who cast ballots for him asked to have their ballots back, presumably to cross Schilling off their list.

After the voting was announced, Schilling contended that the writers were unfairly holding his career accomplishments hostage to his opinions and that he would rather be evaluated by a panel of former players.

Next year will be the 10th and final year of Schilling’s eligibility before the writers and he will likely get his wish to face his former peers. 

Schilling’s gamble that players will look past his faults and judge him strictly by the numbers is a cynical play that likely won’t work.

He’s put the onus on men who likely won’t want to be associated with someone who brings shame and dishonor on them, regardless which side of the political fence they’re on.

Curt Schilling tweeted recently that the media has created a person that "does not and has never existed." 

You can blame a lot of things on the media these days, but Curt Schilling has apparently never needed help being a jerk. 

And that’s how I see it for this week. 

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Twitter: @SportsAtLarge

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.