Schilling’s Numbers Are Not Hall of Fame Worthy

Curt Schilling is no stranger to controversy. In recent years, the former Red Sox ace has found trouble over the way he expresses his controversial beliefs. The debate has increased since becoming eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013. Most Bostonians would vote for Schilling’s induction in a heart beat, but it’s not up to us. It’s up to the Baseball Writers Association of America and right now they’re not too fond of Schilling. I wouldn’t vote him in because Schilling’s numbers don’t warrant induction.

Much of the debate swirling around Schilling centers on his behavior. Many argue that hisSchilling's Numbers reputation for being hard to work with as well as his hardline political views are keeping him out of the Hall of Fame. That very well may be true. For me though, my opinion that he doesn’t deserve induction isn’t based on who he is or what he thinks. It’s the fact that his numbers, while strong, aren’t stellar enough to deserve induction.

Schilling has respectable numbers. He struck out over 3,000 batters, won more than 200 games, and played on three World Series-winning teams. Being a six-time All-Star, a World Series MVP, and winning 20 or more games in a season three times isn’t anything to forget about either. These numbers and accolades reflect an extraordinary career but fall short for many reasons.

First, there’s plenty of other pitchers that aren’t in the Hall of Fame who posted much stronger career stats than Schilling’s numbers. Luis Tiant, another former Boston ace, had more 20 game-winning seasons and retired with a lower ERA. Jim Kaat not only played in four different decades, but also racked up 283 wins and 16 Gold Glove Awards. Then there’s Tommy John, a four-time All-Star whose name is synonymous with career-saving surgery for pitchers. While none of these three men topped 3,000 strikeouts, or played a key role in winning a World Series, their contributions to baseball outweigh Schilling’s.

Going back to Schilling’s numbers, it’s his post-season stats that most people focus on as justification for induction. He won eleven games in the post-season, was named the 1993 NLCS MVP, and the 2001 World Series MVP. There’s also the bloody sock! Again, these stats are amazing, but no so much that they merit a place for him in Cooperstown. Additionally, Schilling isn’t the only one to accomplish such great feats (except for the bloody sock, that WAS an amazing). Jack Morris, who won four World Series titles, was the 1991 World Series MVP after throwing 10 innings in Game 7 to win it for the Minnesota Twins. By the way, Morris had much better numbers than Schilling and he’s not in the Hall of Fame either.

Schilling’s Numbers Don’t Warrant Induction

Schilling is a long ways away from crossing the necessary 75% threshold for induction. He received only 38.8% of the votes in 2013, and 39.2% last year. He might gain more votes if he decided to tone down his political views, but he’s entitled to say what he wants.  However, he can’t control the way others respond to him, including the Hall of Fame voters. If he had stronger numbers, voters might choose to shrug off his views and vote him in. But Schilling doesn’t have the numbers.

Playing Major League Baseball is for the exceptional. But induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame is for the elite. Curt Schilling was no doubt an exceptional player.

But among the elite? No.

Seeing Luis Tiant Outside Fenway Always a Treat

I love seeing Luis Tiant outside Fenway Park on game day. One of my most favorite things to do when I get to Fenway is to see if Tiant is hanging out at his concession stand appropriately named El Tiante. Seeing the Red Sox pitching legend on Yawkey Way not only excites visitors, but cements his status as an ambassador of inspiration for the Red Sox Nation.

I started going to Red Sox games often after moving to Boston in 2014. Seeing Luis TiantSeeing Luis Tiant Outside Fenway outside Fenway Park at El Tiante for the first time was exciting, especially since it’s rare for most fans to get that close to a retired all-star. I first heard about Luis Tiant after watching Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary on PBS in 1994. I immediately became a fan of the Cuban-born pitcher after watching footage of him pitching in the 1975 World Series. I even tried to mimic his unusual pitching style, which often led to throwing the ball over the backstop. Needless to say, my pitching career was never going to go anywhere.

Luis Tiant played in Boston from 1972 to 1978, longer than any other team he pitched for in his 19 year career. He was a four 20-game winner and twice led the American League in ERA. His best years, however, were with the Red Sox. Not only were three of his four 20-game winning seasons with the Red Sox, but he won two games against the Reds in the 1975 World Series, both complete games with one being a shut out. Tiant even managed to hit a decent .250 with two runs scored in the series. While not a great average, it’s not bad for an American League pitcher who hadn’t had an at bat for a few years. Why he isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame remains a mystery. Let’s hope the Veteran’s Committee picks him when they meet in 2017.

Before coming to Boston, injuries and lack of offensive support almost forced Tiant’s career to end prematurely. Leading the league with 20 losses in 1969 made almost everyone assume that his career was finished. Boston, however, took a chance on him. He was named Comeback Player of the Year in 1972 after leading the American League with an astounding 1.91 ERA and 15 wins. Luis Tiant is now a living example of what it takes to overcome the challenges life places before us, and he inspires so many in the Red Sox Nation, including this writer. He’s a big part of what makes us continue to root for the Red Sox, especially after two losing seasons. He’s proof that it’s possible to come back stronger than ever.

Let’s hope we get to see Luis Tiant outside Fenway Park for years to come!

Red Sox Unveil “Franchise Four”

Around the MLB, teams unveiled their “Franchise Four,” the 4 best players in franchise history as voted on by the fans. For the Red Sox, David Ortiz, Ted Williams, Pedro Martinez, and Carl Yastremski were chosen.

All of those guys have their merits, and all of them are legends in their own right, but the Red Soxone player that I would question is David Ortiz (no, this isn’t about him being sent home Sunday). We all know what he’s done with his bat, especially in the playoffs. He had a number of clutch hits in 2004, helping the Red Sox break the “Curse of the Bambino.” In 2013, he was a one man wrecking crew in helping the Red Sox top the Cardinals in 6 games that year. This is all subjective, but I would question the wisdom of putting him ahead of guys like Luis Tiant, Carlton Fisk and other such Red Sox legends. My main reservation is that he hardly ever played defense, but you could make the reverse argument for a Luis Tiant and a Pedro Martinez, who only pitched and hardly ever hit.

But, again, this kind of thing is always subjective and people will always have their own thoughts on this. Ultimately, David Ortiz’s impact on this team in the past decade plus is undeniable, and he does have a strong case to be up there. Without him, we don’t win 3 championships in a decade and break the Curse. He also is making a push for 500 home runs this season, which would be huge for him.

For me, the other guys are no brainers. Ted Williams was the only guy to hit over .400 in a season, Pedro Martinez is one of the greatest pitchers in Red Sox history, and Yaz finished his 22 year career with the Sox with 452 home runs and a .285 career average. But, it is hard to narrow the Red Sox Mount Rushmore down to 4 guys, and everyone will have their own opinions on who should be up there, especially with so many guys to choose from.