If recent history repeats itself, on January 22 when the Baseball Hall of Fame announces its new class, odds are Curt Schilling will not be among the new inductees. The reason? Curt Schilling says what is on his mind and doesn’t care about political correctness. That heresy will get you blackballed from much of polite society these days. Welcome to the new McCarthyism of the 21st Century.
Schilling’s playing credentials are Hall-worthy. With over 200 wins, 3,000 strikeouts and a 79.6 WAR (wins against replacement), his lifetime pitching statistics align him well with other Hall of Fame pitchers, such as John Smoltz and Don Drysdale. Those numbers don’t include an 11-2 win/lose record in the playoffs with a 2.23 ERA and a 4-1 win/lose and 2.06 ERA in the World Series. Without Schilling and his bloody sock heroics in 2004, the Red Sox would never have ended the curse of the Bambino, and without Schilling in 2001, the Diamondbacks would have never won their lone World Series Championship. Schilling is a Hall of Famer. Case closed.
What keeps his case open are Schilling’s post-playing days comments. Schilling has said some provocative and controversial things. We know this has impacted his chances to get in, as Hall of Fame voters have openly discussed that they consider his comments a negative when they decide whether to vote for him or not.
The Baseball Hall of Fame, which was established in 1939, has traditionally had a remarkably open mind when it came to its members’ personality flaws. With the exception of Pete Rose and known steroid users who violated baseball rules, the Baseball Hall of Fame voters rarely venture into considering a player’s personal life as part of the criteria. That is all changing as Hall of Fame voters grapple with Schilling’s candidacy.
To put Schilling’s blackballing in perspective, consider that the Hall is chock full of terrific players, many of whom were of dubious character. Raging alcoholics, adulterers, racists, bullies, psychopaths… the list goes on. You’ll find them all in the Baseball Hall of Fame, yet this inn has no room for Schilling because of comments that were made after his playing days were over and weren’t in violation of any laws or baseball’s rules.
Is this the road we really want to go down? A politically correct litmus test people have to pass for things like the Baseball Hall of Fame? From Kevin Hart being booted from the Oscars to prominent senators grilling potential government appointees over their Catholicism, one gets the sense that political correctness has morphed into a monster that threatens us all.
At the rate political correctness is spreading, I’d imagine it won’t be long until Hall of Famers from days past will get the Confederate statue treatment. Remove Cap Anson’s plaque and put it in the basement because he was a racist, same with Babe Ruth because he was a womanizer, Ty Cobb for his toxic masculinity, Ted Williams for his salty language, and Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle because they drank too much. And so on.
My hope is on January 22 when the Hall vote is announced, whether he makes it or not, Schilling’s fate wasn’t determined by political correctness. At a time when seemingly everything has become politicized and polarized in America, wouldn’t it be nice if we could have political-free zones in America. There, items like a baseball player’s eligibility into the Hall of Fame are decided by his merit as a player and not that he failed an arbitrary political litmus test? Hopefully that isn’t too much to ask.
Matthew Kastel is a 25-year veteran of working as an executive in the world of sports, including professional teams, organizations, and some of the largest vendors in the industry. Matt has also written two novels and teaches and lectures at universities on the business of sports. For more information you can visit his website at thirdstrikeproductions.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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