(Jan. 27) Baseball writers who refuse to vote for pitcher Curt Schilling for the Hall of Fame are furthering the awful trend of enmeshing sports with national politics.

Schilling frequently expresses right-wing political views not typical conservative views, but extreme views that many people, myself included, consider noxious. But the “character” and “integrity” criteria for elevation to the Hall have more to do with the character and integrity of how players conducted themselves within baseball than with some catchall standard of decency. Otherwise, plenty of major cocaine users, grifters, and carousers who are in the Hall wouldn’t be there.

Of course, the character clause would rule out murderers, armed robbers, and the like. But Schilling’s sin is saying and tweeting awful things. What’s next removing Ty Cobb from the Hall because he (by some accounts) was a racist and a jerk?

Schilling’s case is entirely different from those of players such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Manny Ramirez, who are widely believed to have used steroids. Those players cheated the game itself, using artificial means to give them competitive edges. They made a mockery of the proverbial “level playing field” that is the very heart of athletic competition. They wrecked the game’s integrity, skewed its hallowed statistics, and made it impossible to adjudge their true worth as players while depriving people who didn’t cheat of the full chance to excel.

Schilling, meanwhile, was never suspected of doping, but he nonetheless put up numbers that are clearly worthy of the Hall. We can safely ignore absurd denials of this from the likes of the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy, who bizarrely likens him to players whose “Wins Against Replacement” stats (43.7, 56.0, 67.8, and 57.9) aren’t anywhere near Schilling’s 79.5. Fourteen of the 16 pitchers with 3,000 strikeouts who have been retired long enough for Hall eligibility are in the Hall. Only Schilling and the alleged cheater Clemens have been excluded….

[The full column is here.]


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