MLB Hall of Fame…Should what’s outside effect who’s inside?

This will not be a particularly long blog today, because the more wordy I make this blog, the more likely it is that I will taint or sway your opinion. That is not what I am shooting for here. I am just trying to encourage some thought. Here we go…
There has been some buzz among the baseball faithful that Curt Schilling was hurt in his quest for the Hall of Fame by his personal political leanings. Maybe he was, and maybe he wasn’t. Curt Schilling has extremely conservative political views. How did that play with the HOF voters, who are generally more left-leaning and liberal? Let me stop here for a quick disclaimer. I am NOT endorsing either side in the liberal or conservative debate. I am leaving my personal politics out of this, and this is EXACTLY my point. Curt Schilling’s political bent, be it Democrat or Republican, Independent or Libertarian, should have absolutely nothing to do with answering the basic question of whether or not Curt Schilling is a Hall of Famer? Do his career accomplishments meet the criterion for induction? Yes or no? The BBWAA will need to wrestle with this question in the next few years.
Let’s expand this thought by a step. If we are speaking of someone’s political leanings, we are then speaking about things that occur outside of the field of play, and that my friends, opens up a whole can of hurt. Let’s examine for a moment the on and off the field attitudes of a true baseball icon, a player for whom exclusion from the Hall of Fame would be unthinkable. I am speaking of Ty Cobb, The Georgia Peach. He was one of the greatest players in major league history, and was feared and hated at the same time for his fire and competitive spirit. But he was also an overt racist. I will give you that Ty Cobb played in a different time from the microscope of today, but that does not excuse it, nor does it make him any more right. He was a racist. Even though he began to change his tone after he retired and actually came to support baseball players of all races playing together, this was not the case when he was playing, and that is what the Hall of Fame considers. If this racist was held to the same scrutiny that players are held to today, would Ty Cobb have been inducted into Cooperstown? It is a good question.
Let’s take another icon. This player was considered simply the Greatest Baseball Player of All Time. The Sultan of Swat. The Bambino. Babe Ruth was all of that, but he was also a notorious womanizer and carouser. Who can count how many trysts he had? Is it possible to account for all the booze he drank? Should it make any difference? Who cares how many women he bedded or how much gin he drank? Did he do any of that on the playing field of Yankee Stadium? No? Of course not! The bigger point is that if it didn’t happen on the field, then it should not be open for debate by the Baseball Writers. There are no career statistics for how many N-bombs were dropped in a 9-inning game, and I am reasonably sure that there is no statistic to measure how efficiently a hotdog and a beer were consumed against left-handed pitching.
The point of this exercise is simply that Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth did much more than have conservative political leanings, yet they are glorified and are Hall of Fame members, while Curt Schilling is vilified for being a Republican? Does this make absolutely no sense?!? It does not. If the Baseball Writers are using this as a platform for their own political views and are punishing Curt Schilling, or anyone else, by not voting for a player based on his personal beliefs, then Houston, we have a problem. This is wrong, and it should never be. The problem is that it is impossible to prove. The vote of the Baseball Writers is an opinion. That is all it is. You cannot prove that a writer did or did not vote for a player for one reason or another. It is an impossible task. It would be like trying to prove a religious belief. It cannot be quantified.
I wanted this blog to induce some thought. It certainly caught my attention two days ago when Curt Schilling offered that his political views may have hurt his chances. Now Curt Schilling may be a tireless self-promoter, but he is allowed to be. It is not a crime, although it can be a little grinding after a while. Do I think that he should have said anything if he thought that he was being discriminated against because of his political stance? It isn’t important if I think he should have said anything, because the fact is that he did. I hope for Curt Schillings sake, and for the sake of the integrity of Baseball, that the reason that he didn’t gain induction had nothing to do with his personal beliefs.

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2 thoughts on “MLB Hall of Fame…Should what’s outside effect who’s inside?

  1. I am commenting on my own post for the purpose of full disclosure. There is always the possibility that Curt Schilling was just trying to be funny. Okay, maybe he was, but sometimes satire is also commentary. I chose to look at his comments as if he were serious. I do not believe that the BBWAA are a bunch of looney-left liberals, and I do not believe that all Republicans are members of the ‘radical right’. Curt Schilling made a comment, and I wanted to examine it on it’s face. Thanks for reading and listening!

  2. I think it is important to though to recognize Schilling is living in a different time than Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, etc. Today one can easily tweet, post, get on tv stating their politics (or avoid it, which seems much smarter), and Curt has been one to take advantage of this accessible media. I think that makes somewhat of a difference, since back then one’s personal life wasn’t being thrown all over, but now it can be, and doing that will impact people’s impressions of not just that player, but the sport. Like how the NFL has taken the heat for Ray Rice and other incidents, MLB will be accountable to a degree for media actions of its players.

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