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I wasn’t planning on writing about this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame vote results in this space, but then, something wonderful happened: some voters reportedly reached out to Cooperstown in the hopes of having their ballots changed so that they no longer were voting for Curt Schilling. The last straw, as it were, via Matt Spiegel, came because Schilling supported those storming the Capitol back on January 6:
Source: Numerous National Baseball HOF voters have reached out to the Hall hoping to amend their ballots, removing their votes for Curt Schilling after he supported the seditious acts in Washington D.C. 2 weeks ago. HOF officials are concerned about the precedent this could set.
— M@ (@MattSpiegel670) January 21, 2021
Is it wonderful because Schilling is truly scum, a vile, hateful man who also happened to excel at baseball, and the latter shouldn’t justify the former? Is it wonderful because there is maybe some long overdue growth and reflection from some writers who are finally reckoning with the actual weight of the responsibility that casting a Hall of Fame vote, which includes character in its decision-making process, entails? Is it wonderful because Curt Schilling getting extremely, heart-explodingly mad online about being punished and denied entry into Cooperstown for openly supporting Qanon and white supremacists is one of the funniest things I can imagine? The answer to all of the above is a resounding yes, with varying degrees of laughter attached.
We can, of course, argue about whether the writers should have known that Schilling is truly scum, vile, etc. well before he was openly cheerleading a bunch of Neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists who were stress testing what they could get away with with police right there. After all, the “Here’s Curt Schilling’s Nazi Memorabilia” story ran in the Boston Globe over five years ago, and he’s spent all of the time in between then and now doing nothing but making his public defense of all of that — “uh, I just like history is all” — less convincing by the day. Has everyone forgotten that Schilling was fired from ESPN nearly five years ago for openly transphobic social media posts? That at the beginning of the last decade he briefly ran a video game developer that hid the fact its workers’ healthcare had expired, which sure was a surprise to a pregnant staffer making a visit to the doctor, and to the wife of an executive who needed a bone marrow transplant? That his defense of the implosion of his studio was that the governor of Rhode Island, a state which had loaned him $75 million to put his studio there and had expected to recoup $110 million from repayments which they did not receive, had an anti-Schilling political agenda?
Schilling making himself the victim, the oppressed one, is not new. It’s who he is, who he has been, and it’s always been to the detriment of others. There has obviously been escalation in what he feels he can say and find support in, but nothing about this is new. He’s just, like his current heroes, louder about it than his old heroes were.
I sense a pattern there — and am certainly far, far from alone in that — and sensed it long, long ago, but it’s clear that Schilling’s public support of people who wanted to murder the vice president for not backing up their would-be monarch as the end of his term neared is what finally made some voters ashamed of their support for his Hall of Fame candidacy. It’s obvious that they’re very late to that game, for one reason or another, but late or not, if they want to make a change now before Schilling is elected, and take what they’ve learned from the experience and apply it to other candidates and potential inductees going forward, then at least some progress is being made. Later than it should have been, but hey.
Whether Schilling’s Hall candidacy happens or not, whether this petition to change ballots goes down or mathematically eliminates him from induction, he will act as if he’s been wrongfully attacked by voters. Which is even more reason to not fear his reaction to a no vote or to a request to change a vote. He’s going to say he’s a patriot doing and saying what he believes in, anyway, and it was four years ago that he wore a shirt with instructions for lynching journalists, so it’s not like you are currently on his good side, anyway. Huh, I guess I could have mentioned that above as one of the reasons voters should have realized Curt Schilling is an awful piece of shit well before now. Live and learn.
The Baseball Hall of Fame asks voters to recognize character as one of the many reasons a player should or should not be forever enshrined inside. Schilling has failed whatever character test you could possibly drum up for him, unless you stick specifically to his on-the-field accomplishments and behavior, but even then, there is a whole lot of stretching of the imagination that needs to happen. Do you think Schilling’s belligerent, racist, victim-complex attitudes never impacted his relationships with other players who weren’t in line with him? That he was able to box that part of him off perfectly like so many voters do or want to do while considering a vote for enshrinement? It seems unlikely, but feel free to dream if it helps you get through the day.