Why Curt Schilling has only himself to blame for falling short of baseball’s Hall of Fame | Opinion

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I am one of the 401 voters who cast a 2021 ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

I voted for Curt Schilling — yet am glad he fell short and didn’t get in when results were revealed Tuesday night.

This may seem odd, but it is a conflict many voters feel in the time of virulent politics, steroids and the “character clause” that voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America are free to let steer their vote, or to ignore.

It is a weird and winding road that can lead a player to the shrine in Cooperstown, New York, or block his path. It happens when you ask a consensus of hundreds of voters who bring different criteria to the ballot. The continuing denial of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens is a classic example of how voters can judge one player so differently.

Now, so too is Schilling.

In the case of the pitcher with 3,116 career strikeouts who rose so big on postseason stages, I voted for the baseball player and for what he accomplished on a mound — but rooted against the person, the offensive, intolerant man.

The pitching great also happens to be the far-right zealot who opposes same-sex marriage, wrote an anti-transgender Facebook post and shared a meme advocating the lynching of journalists. The unrepentant walking dumpster fire eventually got fired as an ESPN analyst for the accumulation of off-putting outspokenness on social media.

Then came January 6 and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building, the mayhem for which former President Donald Trump is now being impeached for inciting. The mayhem that resulted in five deaths and myriad and ongoing federal arrests.

Schilling came out in support of the rioters committing the insurrection.

Hall ballots were required to be postmarked by December 31 (yes, the BBWAA still uses snail mail to count the votes). One week before the Capital riot.

Schilling’s support of the insurrection had crossed a line for me.

I emailed the BBWAA and asked that my vote for Schilling be rescinded (I bet others did, too), but was told a ballot mailed is a ballot cast. Hence, I voted for Schilling, regretted it, and so was glad he fell short with 71.1 percent of the vote, or 16 votes shy of the mandatory 75% threshold.

Schilling was the leading vote-getter in what marked only the fourth time since 1960 that no new inductees were voted in by the BBWAA.

Right behind him, denied again, the “steroid guys”: Bonds with 61.8% and Clemens with 61.6%.

Bonds and Clemens will be back on the ballot next year for a 10th and final chance, but are unlikely to be voted in. Some guys who are close enjoy a sympathetic bump in voting in their final year of eligibility, but the faces of baseball’s Steroids Era seem unlikely to engender such goodwill.

Schilling will be back for a 10th and final shot next year, too. Maybe. Tuesday night, conveying a sore-loser gene after falling short again, he asked the BBWAA to remove him from the 2022 ballot. He would then rely on the erstwhile veterans committee to induct him, the last hope for players denied by the BBWAA.

(The veterans committee’s latitude with borderline candidates is notorious, as when it inducted Harold Baines in 2019 after Baines had failed to earn more than a scant 6.1 percent of the vote — around 1/12th of the required amount — on the regular ballot).

I never voted for Baines, who plainly should not be in the Hall.

I do vote for Bonds and Clemens, because their numbers are so all-time-great towering and would be Hall-worthy even if diminished by the time of their PED boost. I also respect those voters who draw a hard line in banning all steroids-tainted guys.

The dichotomy of voters on that issue will arise anew next year when appearing on the Hall ballot for the first time will be one Alex (A-Rod) Rodriguez, an admitted former cheat but one who — unlike Bonds and Clemens — has been contrite and worked hard to repair his public image.

Let’s see if that resonates with voters. I put A-Rod on that same elite, historic echelon as Bonds and Clemens ... but I also doubt 75% of my voting brethren will agree. At least not right away.

As for Schilling, who has asked to be removed from the ballot?

May he get his wish.

May the man turned away at the doorstep of baseball immortality understand very well that he as only himself to blame.

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