|Point/Counterpoint: Curt Schilling||| Print |||Send|
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on June 28, 2008
Curt Schilling Isn’t a Hall of Famer
After recent shoulder surgery, Curt Schilling said he will not pitch this season and may never pitch again. His potential retirement has led many media outlets to speculate on whether or not Schilling is a Hall of Famer. He isn’t.
Yes, Schilling is one of the greatest postseason performers of all time. In those games, he has a 2.23 ERA, 11 wins, and 120 strikeouts over 133.1 innings. You can’t quibble with those numbers, especially if you consider his starting three games in the 2001 World Series and the bloody sock game in 2004.
But during the regular season, Schilling was never an outstanding pitcher. Over the course of his career, he was never a Hall of Fame pitcher. He never won a Cy Young Award -- instead, he finished twice four times. He never led the league in ERA, wins, or strikeouts per nine innings. He only finished first in walks per nine innings once. Not allowing walks and striking hitters out is his strong suit.
If you turn to Baseball-Reference.com’s website for Schilling (http://www.baseball-reference.com/s/schilcu01.shtml), you can see his closest comparables are Kevin Brown, Bob Welch, Orel Hershiser, Mike Mussina, and Freddie Fitzsimmons. Those guys were all very good pitchers, but nothing screams Hall of Fame about them.
And nothing screams Hall of Fame for Schilling. If a player is a borderline candidate, it is best to be conservative to make sure the Hall of Fame maintains the crème de le crème, rather than lowering its standards. Schilling belongs in the Hall of Very Good players, though. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
A pitcher is measured by many things - but the thing that will get Curt Schilling into the Hall of Fame is the bloody sock. Over 20 years Schilling has collected 216 wins playing for a variety of dreadful teams, while striking out almost a batter per inning (3261 innings/3116 Ks). Considering that he only was a full time starter for 16 seasons those are very impressive numbers - especially when you consider how bad some of those teams in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and even Arizona were.
But Schilling’s defining moment was game six of the 2004 ALCS and the bloody sock. Nobody that saw that game will ever forget it. With the Red Sox down three games to two, Schilling who had surgery on his ankle just days before, gutted his way through the game against a Yankee lineup that battered him just a few days earlier. Despite obvious pain and against all common sense Schilling came out to pitch and to win. There at Fenway Park, in front of a national television audience, Curt pitched his heart out.
As the cameras zoomed in on his ankle, America could see the blood seeping into the sock, literally turning it into a red sock. And through it all, despite the stitches holding that tendon sheath in place, Schilling stayed focused on his promise of helping break Boston’s 86 year old World Series drought.
It was a legend in the making. And that legend will put Schilling over the top on the first ballot, when the Baseball Writers of America vote on his induction to the Hall of Fame.