The thing I love about Curt Schilling is that he has lived up to his name better than any ballplayer since Home Run Baker. (I can’t speak to how well Zip Zabel lived up to his name). If there’s one thing Curt can do even better than pitching, it’s shilling.
And in announcing his retirement via blog, Schilling left a not-so-subtle reminder that he should be invited to Cooperstown.
Four World Series, three World Championships. That there are men with plaques in Cooperstown who never experienced one — and I was able to be on three teams over seven years that won it all — is another “beyond my wildest dreams” set of memories I’ll take with me.
Hmm. Angling for anything there, Curt?
Fortunately for Schilling, a number of people who have a say in the matter are going to take up the banner for him. In fact, I have yet to find anyone who has said “Hell no.” ESPN’s Rob Neyer wrote about how Schilling has evolved from an outsider to a HOF lock in his book. FanGraphs Baseball also calls for Schilling’s enshrinement.
I’m not here to say that Schilling doesn’t belong, but I would like to say this: If you put Curt Schilling into the Hall of Fame, you better move him to the back of the damn line. Because there is no way you can put Schilling into the Hall without first recognizing the accomplishments of Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven. (And I’m not even a Twins fan.)
Here’s a look at each pitcher’s respective resume:
Schilling: Career Record: 216-146; 3.46 ERA; 3,116 K’s; 6 All-Star appearances; Once led NL in wins; Once led AL in wins; Nine times in Top 10 strikeouts; 0 Cy Young Awards
Postseason Record: 10-2; 2.23 ERA; 3 World Titles
Morris: Career Record: 254-186; 3.90 ERA; 2,478 K’s; Twice led AL in wins; Eight times in Top 10 Strikeouts; 6 All-Star appearances; 0 Cy Young Awards
Postseason Record (played before advent of Division Series): 6-1; 3.80 ERA; 3 World Titles. Won Game 7 of the 1991 World Series with a 10-inning complete game shutout of the Braves. (Think about that last sentence. Because you’ll never see anything like it again.)
Blyleven: Career record: 287-250; 3.31 ERA; 3,701 K’s (5th All-Time); 15 times in Top 10 Strikeouts; 2 All-Star appearances; 0 Cy Young Awards.
Postseason Record (Also pre-Division Series): 4-1; 2.47 ERA; 2 World Titles
Each pitcher has an argument over one of his counterparts in each given category here, but to me it basically boils down to the same overall body of work. The strongest argument everyone uses in favor of Schilling’s enshrinement is his postseason work, but clearly Morris and Blyleven were no slouches in October. If you gave any of these three the ball, you were probably going to win.
The only advantage Schilling has is that he played in an era of mass media coverage, which was further inflated by his own ability for self-promotion.
I certainly won’t begrudge the voters if they decide to put Schilling into the Hall five years from now. He’s got the vitals. But if Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven aren’t already on the stage to greet him, it will be a bloody shame.