Football icon John Madden was beloved; pitcher Curt Schilling isn’t. Here, I make the case for both of them. (Links to full pieces embedded in the headlines.)

John Madden’s Raiders were a guilty kind of fun (Dec. 29): NFL legend John Madden, who died yesterday at 85, had such an outsize presence as broadcaster, analyst, and video game maven that his actual coaching legacy gets almost lost in the retelling.

Yet, as Madden eulogies dominate the sporting news, what cannot be separated from the man is the unique, unforgettable personality of the team he coached.

Yes, the Raiders reached the Super Bowl shortly before Madden became their coach, and they won two Super Bowls shortly after he retired. So it’s not as if he himself built a dynasty or innovated. Yet it was during Madden’s 10 years at the helm that the enduring image of the Raiders was cemented into public consciousness. The 1970s Oakland Raiders, perennial contenders and onetime champions, were a collection of rabble-rousing rowdies, alien to the NFL’s then-carefully crafted image….

Curt Schilling overwhelmingly belongs in the Hall of Fame (Dec. 30): Curt Schilling should be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should not. Anyone who says the opposite is a logical and moral midget.

No offense meant to people whose stature rather than sense is tiny. In a way, though, the modern fetish for being offended is what this is all about.

The topic arises now because all ballots by Hall of Fame voters must be postmarked before midnight on New Year’s Eve. Schilling, Bonds, and Clemens, all of them controversial, are each in their final year of eligibility for the Hall….Then there’s Schilling, who did not cheat. Schilling’s career statistics are easily good enough to qualify for the Hall, with an almost identical number of wins, strikeouts, and “Wins Against Replacement” as first-ballot inductee Pedro Martinez and significantly better stats than 2019 first-ballot inductee Roy Halladay. His postseason performances were legendary. As top baseball writer Joe Posnanski (author of The Baseball 100) accurately notes, “an argument can be made that he’s the greatest postseason pitcher in baseball history” ….



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