Here's a vote in favor of Hall of Fame election process - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Here’s a vote in favor of Hall of Fame election process

Curt Schilling
Photo credit: Robert Deutsch - USA Today Sports

Curt Schilling’s failure to gain admission to Baseball’s Hall of Fame this week has brought calls to modify the election process. It’s not the process that’s broken. It’s that the candidates have issues.

Schilling received 71.1 percent of the vote. To become a Hall of Famer, players need 75 percent of the vote of 10-year members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He fell 16 votes short.

After the results were announced, Schilling wrote on Facebook that he no longer wanted to be considered for election by the BBWAA and asked that the Veterans Committees should judge him.

Schilling’s case as a player is a strong one. He was a three-time 20-game winner, led the National League in complete games four times and struck out 3,116 batters, 14th most in major league history.

He struck more than four times as many batter as he walked, an excellent ratio, and the 11-2 postseason record with a 2.23 ERA is eye-popping.

Schilling won 216 games. His first win came with the Orioles in 1990. Schilling came to the Orioles with Brady Anderson in July 1988 in exchange for Mike Boddicker.

Thirty years ago this month, Schilling was sent to Houston with outfielder Steve Finley and right-hander Pete Harnisch in exchange for first baseman Glenn Davis, a trade that many consider the worst in Orioles history.

Schilling’s polarizing political views turned off some of the voters. If he had kept his views to himself over the past few years, he would have been elected to the Hall of Fame by now, but he wasn’t going to do that.

He’ll probably remain on the ballot that will be sent to writers late this year. It will be his 10th and final year of eligibility, and his unhappiness about the process practically guarantees he won’t be elected.

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Some fans might say that his views should be ignored and that politics and sports don’t mix. They’ve always mixed, unhappily in many cases.

Discriminatory politics kept Blacks out of Major League Baseball until 1947, and the game has been trying to make up for that ever since.

The Schilling tumult managed to overshadow the annual debate about whether Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be voted in. Bonds (61.8 percent) and Clemens (61.6 percent) have inched up in support but are still well below the 75 percent. They’ll also be on the ballot once more later this year.

The steroid taint against Bonds and Clemens has turned off many voters. Another strong candidate, longtime shortstop Omar Vizquel, was harmed by a mid-December story in The Athletic that revealed charges of domestic abuse against him. Vizquel finished fifth in the voting with 49.1 percent.

Of the top five candidates, only third baseman Scott Rolen had no character issues to consider. Rolen finished fourth with 52.9 percent.

It’s not the electorate’s fault that Schilling, Bonds, Clemens and Vizquel carry troubled pasts.

While I am not yet a 10-year member of the BBWAA and can’t vote, I know many of those who do. Most spend a lot of time considering their ballot and researching it.

The Hall instructs: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

That’s subjective, and voters interpret that in many ways.

We live in a complex and troubling time. The rise of social media and Schilling’s use of Twitter has undermined his case. The revelation of the troubling charges against Vizquel, which came after some voters had mailed in their ballots, raises more questions of character.

Some believe that the vote should be taken away from the writers. Some major newspapers, including The Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, prohibit their writers from voting for postseason awards and the Hall of Fame. Those papers think that reporters should report news, not make it.

Overall, I think the writers have done an excellent job at choosing the right candidates. In the previous seven years, the BBWAA elected 22 players, and each one was worthy of induction.

Since I’m not a voter, I don’t write about who I would have voted for. But I would have voted for Schilling, no matter how offensive his politics may be.

The next ballot will be even more difficult. Not only will Schilling, Bonds, Clemens and Vizquel be on it, but so will Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, both of whom have troubled pasts, too.

Some believe that a panel more like the Veterans Committees should vote on the Hall of Fame. Those committees, which vote on non-players and players whose BBWAA eligibility has lapsed, are comprised of Hall of Famers, baseball executives, historians and media members.

Those committees do admirable work, but I think having 10 years for a group of 400 writers to consider candidates generally rewards the worthy, and the Veterans Committees are there to make up for exclusions.

Baseball’s system is superior to football’s or basketball’s. Voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is done by 48 electors, a group of writers, broadcasters and Hall of Famers. As popular as the NFL is, that voting gets scant attention compared with baseball’s. Basketball’s selection process is secretive. No one discloses who votes.

The Hall of Fame shouldn’t be disappointed that no one was elected. Because of the pandemic, Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller, who were supposed to be inducted last year, will be presented this July in Cooperstown, New York instead.

The Hall also can’t be upset that there’s so much talk about the process. Many voting writers give valuable publicity to the Hall of Fame by explaining their ballots.

Earlier this month, Ken Rosenthal explained his dilemma about voting in The Athletic, and he said it could be his last ballot. I hope he continues voting because he’s the type of informed voter who’s needed, and I hope the process continues as it is. To make the process easier, we just need candidates with fewer issues.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Rob IsraOsFan

    January 29, 2021 at 7:22 am

    In my opinion, Curt Schilling is using good old fashioned reverse psychology to finally get himself over the hump and into the HOF. It’s his last chance to get in so he has to try a new and daring approach. And since he can’t remove himself from the ballot, the voters are going to vote him in (100%) just to spite him. LOL.

    Obviously I am just joking, but stranger things have happened.

  2. CalsPals

    January 29, 2021 at 7:41 am

    If it is such an honor, then why were there 16 ballots turned in blank, those people should lose the “honor” of voting, since they didn’t exercise it…go O’s…

    • whiterose

      January 29, 2021 at 12:41 pm

      why? they were just saying no one on ballot belongs.

  3. BarstoolSleeper

    January 29, 2021 at 7:48 am

    Some of these HOF voters/writers cover hockey, while others have been away from the sport of baseball for decades. The HOF vote for baseball is a joke. One of many issues that is facing this sport. I’m not advocating for or against Schilling, I’m saying some of the guys voting have absolutely no idea about baseball currently and that’s a problem that Cooperstown needs to address.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 29, 2021 at 10:28 am

      Dave, the Hall of Fame changed its voting procedures a few years ago. There is no longer a lifetime voter. Any voter must have been a 10-year member of the BBWAA. If you leave baseball writing, you’re given 10 years to vote. Beyond that, you must prove a current connection to the games. This has actually eliminated some informed voters who covered baseball for 10 years or more, gone on to cover other sports, but continue to follow the game.

  4. [email protected]

    January 29, 2021 at 8:11 am

    Shilling’s political views, if they were a factor for some negative votes, would be an example of “cancel culture” now apparently normalized. I hope that didn’t happen. As to his election to the HOF, in his era he was a hall of fame candidate and I would say yes.

    • VICTORTEE

      January 29, 2021 at 8:15 am

      I assume you thought the NFL’s treatment of Colin K was A-OK?

      • Orial

        January 29, 2021 at 8:27 am

        I don’t think Kaep’s political views were why he was ‘blackballed” from the NFL. He brought a controversial factor that might have hindered the businesses(owners) from selling/promoting their product(team) to the customers(fan base). Customers do tend to shun a product they don’t care for. Political views are protected by the first ammendment BUT they appeal to 50% of their recipients. The owners were talking the bottom line–$$ not making a statement. I sure hope that wasn’t taken as a racist comment it was meant to look at it from a neutral front.

    • jimcarter

      January 29, 2021 at 9:54 am

      Schilling is no different than countless other people over the years. He has an over inflated sense of self, enjoys being the center of attention and thinks he knows all. I don’t care if it’s 1950, 1980 or 2021, these people are simply a*****s. I have no use for them under any circumstance.

  5. Huds1117

    January 29, 2021 at 8:35 am

    So if Schilling was a big Biden supporter he would be in the HOF? His “polarizing political views” are what kept him out – in other words he is not allowed to support the President of the United States and conservatism. MLB/HOF should just come out and state that as their official policy – tell the fans who you really are. Re- read “1984” Mr Dubroff and rethink how HOF voters got it right with Curt Schilling.

    • jimcarter

      January 29, 2021 at 12:41 pm

      There’s nothing “conservative” about ransacking the Capitol and killing a police officer. People who embrace such behavior are radicals, extremists, terrorists and criminal. Schilling is a blowhard who needs to occasionally shut his mouth. We need to return to a time when people kept some things to themselves.

  6. Orial

    January 29, 2021 at 8:35 am

    I agree with RobIsraOsFan. Schilling is using this opportunity to do a little feet stomping,grandstanding. It’s an approach that may or may not work. As far as character issues–I think Ty Cobb’s resume’ would be an interesting comparison. Gee if only Schilling had some of Cobb’s voters to lean on.

  7. Bancells Moustache

    January 29, 2021 at 9:16 am

    That Schilling isn’t in the Hall of Fame is absurd, but I still maintain the political stuff was just the excuse voters used. The real reason, and I’ve said this before, is that the Hall and MLB didn’t want so much as a whiff of controversy on the day they anointed their golden child Jeter with the holiest of oils.

    This dead horse has been beaten to dust, but I will continue to maintain that so long as the greatest pitcher and hitter of all time are left outside, the museum in Cooperstown is invalidated as a Hall of Fame. Just step in front of the steroid era already. Own it. Players, executives, owners, baseball writers and even fans are all culpable in it. Just acknowledge it and move on.

    • Shamus

      January 29, 2021 at 4:41 pm

      Once again Bancells has nailed it.. and by the way Jim Carter, there are plenty of a holes and blowhards in the HOF

  8. TxBirdFan

    January 29, 2021 at 9:43 am

    Regardless of politics, Curt Schilling just doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. If 300 wins guarantees a trip to the Hall he wasn’t even close with 216 wins. A good comparison is Mickey Lolich who won 217 games back in the day, mostly with the Tigers. Lolich never got more than 25% of the votes needed to get in. Let’s stop watering down the legends who had outstanding careers without steroids by crowding the Hall with good players.

    • BarstoolSleeper

      January 29, 2021 at 10:33 am

      Tx, I challenge you to find anyone close to 300 wins currently pitching. Closest is Verlander and he’s got 228 at age 37. The day of the 300 win pitcher is long gone. The game has changed and no one will have 300 wins moving forward. Pitchers don’t start enough games or throw enough innings for that to happen. So should we put no more pitchers into the Hall ever? Again, not saying Schilling should or shouldn’t be in. My argument is simply that 300 wins is no longer a mark that any pitcher

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 29, 2021 at 10:38 am

      Mr. Lesher, starting pitchers are used in different ways than they were during Lolich’s era. If you look at Schilling’s Baseball Reference page, you’ll see that the 10 most similar pitchers to him were Kevin Brown, Zack Greinke, Bob Welch, Justin Verlander, Tim Hudson, Orel Hershiser, Freddie Fitzsimmons, Milt Pappas, Mark Buehrle and John Smoltz. Of those, Smoltz is a Hall of Famer. Verlander will be, and I think Greinke will be, too.

      Lolich won the Detroit Tigers the 1968 World Series, the last year without additional playoff rounds, but Schilling was an important pitcher for three World Championship teams. He struck out a lot of batters, but his strikeout to walk ratio was 2.58, his sinning percentage was .532, and his WAR was 48.0. Schilling was far better in each of those categories.

      Thank you, as always, for contributing to the site. Always nice to hear from my Texas friends.

    • TxBirdFan

      January 29, 2021 at 11:22 pm

      Rich – You helped prove my point that nobody with stats similar to Schilling is in the Hall except John Smoltz, but that’s not a fair comparison since he turned into a terrific reliever late in his career with 150 saves!

      I do agree that Verlander will likely be in the Hall. Who would you rather have on your team – Verlander or Schilling?

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 30, 2021 at 9:04 am

      Verlander because Schilling hasn’t pitched in 14 years.

  9. whiterose

    January 29, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Agree with Rich 100%

  10. willmiranda

    January 29, 2021 at 11:28 am

    I find it at least inconsistent that people who still rage at the blackballing of Hollywood types for their Leftist, even Stalinist, politics of the 1950’s are perfectly comfortable with blackballing today anyone who is not of Leftist sympathies. I also don’t believe the player Schilling used baseball as a tool to further his ideology. True, his reputation as a player later gave him name recognition exploited by ESPN and others, but his broadcasting career was separate from his playing days. I can understand his not being voted into a Mainstream Media Hall of Fame. But the Baseball Hall of Fame? Not so much. Mr. Schilling doesn’t have issues; the voters have issues.

  11. Birdman

    January 29, 2021 at 11:32 am

    The average statistical peak performance age for major league players is 28-29. Very few players peak after the age of 32. Schilling had the peak performance years of his career when he was 34-37, during the early 2000s … Interesting.

    • CalsPals

      January 29, 2021 at 12:05 pm

      That’s why you have averages, some are above it, some below…go O’s…

      • Birdman

        January 29, 2021 at 1:15 pm

        true … but somehow, during the 90s and early 2000s, a disproportionate number players (including Schilling) managed to beat the averages and have their best seasons in their late 30s, something that was almost unheard of previously … just saying

    • CalsPals

      January 29, 2021 at 1:58 pm

      I guess the part that bothers me is that Bonds NEVER tested positive, am I a fan, nope, just saying I thought you were innocent until proven guilty…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      January 29, 2021 at 1:59 pm

      I’m sure Tom Brady is doing something illegal as well, lol…go O’s…

  12. Stadiumzone1

    January 29, 2021 at 11:53 am

    Personally, I think it’s a slippery slope when a group of “journalists” start passing judgment on someone’s character because of their political or religious beliefs. Aside from the issue of betting on your sport, I truly believe the ONLY thing that should matter in the determination of Hall of Fame qualification is what you accomplished on the field, as long as it was accomplished fairly.

  13. Mikepete73

    January 29, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    curt schilling has no issues and should be in. I can tell you agree he shouldn’t be in because of his political views. please all you idiots combining sports and politics get out you have ruined ever sport

  14. dlgruber1

    January 29, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    Some believe that the vote should be taken away from the writers. “Some major newspapers, including The Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Atlanta Journal-Constitution, prohibit their writers from voting for postseason awards and the Hall of Fame. Those papers think that reporters should report news, not make it.”
    That might very well be the single most hypocritical statement I’ve ever read. Wow!!

  15. Steven

    January 29, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    Re: those who get to vote: Hank Aaron was not a unanimous choice. Which voters chose not to vote for him? Should their rights to vote be taken away because they were inept?

    • CalsPals

      January 29, 2021 at 12:53 pm

      I’d say no because they voted for someone, blank ballots should lose the right to vote…go O’s…

      • BirdfanVA

        January 29, 2021 at 6:07 pm

        Why should writers that voted for no one lose their right to vote? Perhaps those writers didn’t see anyone on the ballot they thought was HOF worthy. Should the writers vote for someone/anyone just to say that they voted?

    • dlgruber1

      January 29, 2021 at 1:39 pm

      I have to assume that since Mariano Rivera was the first, and only still, player to receive 100% of the vote that Ruth, Cobb, Gehrig and others also didn’t receive 100% of the vote. If they didn’t get 100% then no one should. I agree that a ballot turned in empty should automatically revoke that persons privilege to be a Hall of Fame voter.

    • CalsPals

      January 29, 2021 at 2:45 pm

      :)…go O’s…

  16. BirdsCaps

    January 29, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    As per general rule, I am ecstatic that the bar to get into the Hall is so high. This is what separates the baseball hall from other sports. However, I am disappointed that Schilling did not get into the Hall. If his stats are as comparable (to those already in) as I have heard, than he should be in. I remember his dominant performance for the sox and he was a major factor in getting them to reverse the curse. However, in this day and age where it is best to not put political opinions on social media (if you don’t want at least a subset of the population to dislike you), this is the expected outcome.

    • dlgruber1

      January 29, 2021 at 3:00 pm

      You’re partially correct. We live in a day and age where it’s best not to put “conservative” political opinions in social media. It’s absolutely fine, hell, it’s deemed heroic practically, to put any leftist/socialist garbage on social media.

      • Birdman

        January 29, 2021 at 3:58 pm

        You mean like Kapernick? Guess he didn’t face any consequences for expressing his political opinions, except the loss of his professional career.

    • dlgruber1

      January 29, 2021 at 5:54 pm

      Birdman, the reason Kapernick is not in the NFL is because HE rejected the 49ers offer. He is clearly, quite frankly, not good enough. NFL teams will sign ANYONE if they believe he’ll make them a better team. Now let me ask you something. If he were not the black man that he is do you honestly believe he’d have gotten the multi-million dollar contract that Nike gave him? I’ll give him this. He has learned how to play the race card and he’s become a millionaire because of it. I don’t wanna hear any garbage that he’s not in the NFL because of his politics.

  17. BirdfanVA

    January 29, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    I’m SURE that everyone already in the baseball hof is a saint…right! It’s funny that a racist (Cobb) is in the hof as well as a drunk (Mantle). I’m also sure that NO ONE in the hof ever cheated on his wife. Again…right! The baseball hof is exactly that, it’s the hof for great baseball players. The hall of fame for good, moral people is called Heaven. Personally, I believe that if steroid cheats such as Bonds, Clemens, etc. are eventually voted into the hof, then Pete Rose should be inducted as well. Who’s to say that one crime (steroids) is a lesser offense than another (gambling). Also, MLB now partners with gambling institutions such as Bally’s, and we all know that everything with that relationship will be on the up-and-up.

    • dlgruber1

      January 29, 2021 at 6:32 pm

      Agree completely with everything you said, I’ll just add that I’m sure that EVERY BBWAA voter is a paragon of virtue.

  18. Letsgetmikey

    January 29, 2021 at 11:55 pm

    When I got to the end of Rich’s article the box said 39 comments. 39 people who could offer any opinion they pleased without ant consequences. Why shouldn’t Curt Shilling be given the same courtesy?

    • willmiranda

      January 30, 2021 at 11:03 am

      Why? Because every journalist isn’t as classy as Rich Dubroff.

  19. John Crawmer

    January 31, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Seems simple, Bonds, Clemens, Vizquel, apparently missed because of a standard, broke a rule, PED, domestic violence. Schilling’s crime? His personal beliefs. BBWAA voters no longer worthy in my opinion.

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