Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire aren't getting into the Hall-of-Fame in because of steroids. Pete Rose isn't getting in because of gambling. And Curt Schilling could miss the Hall-of-Fame because of his caustic comments.
What's sad is that each of these players could have been voted into Baseball's Hall-of-Fame, if they only used their head.
Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, and McGwire used PEDs to pad their statistics. Rose must have suffered from some sort of addiction problem to bet on games as a player and manager. Schilling appears to have avoided shooting up or putting money down on his team, but he still can't seem to find a way to keep from embarrassing the baseball world with his comments. He compared Muslims to Germans under Nazi rule. He made false statements about President Barack Obama, and said baseball players wouldn't submit to drug tests because they don't trust MLB and owners. There's a long list of Twitter targets, from supporters of evolution to liberal politicians. When you get suspended from covering the Little League World Series, you probably need a time out on tweeting.
Bloomberg's Will Leitch writes that those who are making their ballots known are snubbing Schilling for pro-GOP bias. But it's not being a conservative that's costing Schilling. Otherwise, John Smoltz, who is also a well-known conservative who campaigned for very conservative candidates like Ralph Reed, would have been denied a spot in the Hall-of-Fame last year. It's Schilling's below-the-belt, unsportsmanlike comments that are hurting him.
After years of taking starting pitchers like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and the Atlanta Braves trio of Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, you'd think Schilling would get his turn. It's like beauty pageant expert Michael Caine's comments in the film "Miss Congeniality" about the abrasive FBI agent-turned contestant, played by Sandra Bullock: "One shining moment, and then that mouth!"
There are plenty of other deserving baseball players who use a little more self-control when they get in front of a microphone who will get into Cooperstown. Ken Griffey, Jr., and outfielder for the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds is considered a shoo-in in 2016. Catcher Mike Piazza has come close for several years, and might slip into the Hall-of-Fame in 2016 or 2017.
Relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman, one of the game's best at saves, should find his way in, if baseball gets over their bias against closers (ask Lee Smith how he's fared). Alan Trammell has been overlooked by baseball writers, but I bet the Veteran's Committee doesn't make the same mistake. If defense gets more credit in the coming years, we might see Jim Edmonds get a chance.
Schilling is sure to cry bias if he doesn't make it in (he even claimed political voter bias in favor of Smoltz last year, even though Smoltz is also a conservative). But he may not even be the best starting pitcher eligible. Former Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees starter Mike Mussina has more wins (270 to 216) versus a similar number of losses (153 to 146). Sure Schilling has 22 saves, but it's not enough to top Mussina's win total. Both have similar ERAs and WHIP scores. Schilling does have a nice post-season story with the Boston Red Sox, but Mussina has the better "WAR" (Wins Above Replacement) scores, 83 to 79.9, second only to Griffey on the ballot. A.J. Cassavell with MLB.com expects Mussina's scores to start rising. They could eclipse Schilling's, and perhaps eventually make Cooperstown, N.Y. one day. Moreover, Mussina doesn't make headlines that has the entire baseball world saying "he doesn't speak for me." Anything he says would begin with "Hall-of-Fame Pitcher Curt Schilling today said..."
Schilling had talent, a transition from reliever to starter, playoff and World Series fame and the most famous bloody sock in history. It's just too bad that he didn't show any real life sportsmanship after he retired from the game.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.