Why Is It Acceptable To Hold A Baseball Player’s Mainstream Politics Against Him But Not His Lack of Versatility?
Nobody wanted to be the Neanderthal voter who said a pitcher should throw more than one inning every couple of days. But they were okay identifying their politics on their sleeve.
Last Tuesday Mariano Rivera became the first member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame to be unanimously inducted.
Since it is now public record how writers cast their ballots, perhaps the petty jealousies of former writers who might hold back a vote against a worthy player for whatever reason, including “nobody has ever made the Hall unanimously and I’ll be damned if this guy is,” is eliminated when the ballot is not hidden.
Rivera is the all-time saves leader and therefore deserves enshrinement. But he’s hardly the greatest player to every put on a baseball uniform.
What is also revealed are the political leanings of writers and therefore the media covering the game. Perception believes Curt Schilling is being held out of the Hall because of his conservative political leanings.
Evidently, the crusty curmudgeon baseball writer who always believed it was better in a previous era is a thing of the past. Dick Young would have voted for Schilling based on his political leanings alone.
Today, the new breed of baseball writer is very statistically orientated and often seemingly very liberal. Look at nbcsports.com’s Craig Calcaterra, a former attorney who has publicly written he “detests” the Cleveland Indians’ historic “Chief Wahoo” logo and complained the display of Old Glory at Sun Trust Park in 2017 was too political.
Calcaterra doesn’t vote for the Hall of Fame, but with the game’s modern popularity seemingly stemming from the northeast and the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox does anyone think his views aren’t shared by much of the media shaping the game and sports in general in 2019?
Mike Mussina making the Hall of Fame instead of Schilling seems inappropriate. True, Mussina won more games, but it never seemed that he was considered the better pitcher when the two played.
Schilling has a lower lifetime earned run average, a better WHIP, FIP, and strikeouts-to-walks ratio and allowed fewer home runs. Furthermore, Schilling was the last pitcher, with the possible exception of Madison Bumgarner, whom a manager could rely on for a complete game.
Schilling’s 15 complete games in 1998 is the most any pitcher has thrown for the last 32 years. Nobody’s thrown more than his 268 2/3 innings since 1991. To do these in the National League for the Philadelphia Phillies and not the American, where pitchers are routinely pinch-hit for, is even more impressive.
Back in 2001, Schilling and Randy Johnson were named the Sports Illustrated Sports Persons of the Year instead of Barry Bonds, who had only had perhaps the greatest season a hitter ever had to in breaking the single-season home run record with 73 despite being walked 177 times.
Imagine Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa NOT being the Sports Persons of the Year in 1998, and that’s the kind of slight Bonds received.
But Bonds was surly with the media, the allegations of Performance Enhancing Drug use were rampant, and, besides, the Arizona Diamondbacks winning the World Series and ending the Yankees’ streak of three straight World Championships made Johnson and Schilling popular alternatives.
Ironically, it was Schilling who started that game and pitched more than seven strong innings before Rivera, in his most famous game, lost a 2–1 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Yet it is Rivera who is now unanimously in the Hall of Fame, and Schilling is on the outside looking in.
Yet whereas Schilling was once the man the media could turn to so that they could be saved from honoring Bonds, today it seems he is the player modern media champions keeping out to champion their own personal politics.
Much has changed in a generation spanning 18 years.
For with the ballot public, a non-vote for Schilling is seemingly a statement not that 216 victories aren’t enough for Cooperstown, especially since Roy Halladay was enshrined with 203.
It’s rather a statement of a voter publicly championing his politics.
No, I haven’t checked the voter registration of every Hall of Fame voter who didn’t vote for Schilling. I don’t have to. Perception is reality.
And if the perception created by the media is players with political views differing from their own are unwelcome, then that will be felt by potential fans.
Is it any wonder then the game is losing popularity, with an average fan age of 53?
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