Through the Looking Glass

Through the Looking Glass

January 30, 2021 0 By Dan Freedman

When I was six years old, I MC’d my elementary school’s production of “Alice in Wonderland.” Memory does not serve if I was afforded that lofty position because I could neither sing nor act, but if the current state of affairs is any marker, both of those analyses would ultimately be proven correct. In any event, and with apologies to Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, and, of course, Lewis Carroll, I don’t think any of them could have imagined the upside down world in which we are currently living.

To wit, for some reason, having the ability to speak on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and consistently having conservative voices be the top ten most engaged posts on Facebook means Big Tech is shutting you down and your First Amendment rights are being thwarted. For reasons that I cannot fully appreciate, wanting the free market (not the government) make decisions means that the government should compel private companies like Twitter and the aforementioned Facebook to allow individuals to say what they want, when they want, to whomever they want. Even with a law school degree, I don’t truly understand how strict constructionists believe that the Constitution applies to non-state actors, but I guess I am just not fully enlightened.

That is why, in some people’s minds, it makes perfect sense to claim fraud against one side, all the while demanding, cajoling, and coercing others to “find” votes for themselves. Or claiming holding one accountable for their actions isn’t a show of “unity,” but claiming the other side “stole” an election is? I just feel like I am back in the North Stratfield Elementary School multi-purpose room all over again, living in a world where left is right, right is wrong, and you cannot believe what you read, because you can only believe what you hear, unless what you hear (e.g., rioters stating: “Trump said to do so”) doesn’t comport with what you want to believe (it was Antifa conducting a false flag operation), so then you just go back to believing whatever it is you want to believe.

Which brings us to one Curtis Montague Schilling. That wind chime you hear in your backyard is from the collective sigh of relief from members of the BBWA whose votes didn’t reach 75% for Schilling earlier this week. Thus they don’t have to permanently regret voting for someone who sympathizes with Nazis and insurrectionists (although, to be fair, if it took the events of post-January 6th to get you off the Schilling bandwagon, maybe you don’t deserve said sigh of relief).

After falling 16 votes shy of induction on this year’s ballot, Schilling penned a lengthy note to the Hall of Fame, which he then posted on Facebook. In it, Schilling extols his many and varied virtues, and conveniently forgets about his many sins. I guess that is normal and typical PR spin. But where this gets all Through the Looking Glass is with regard to specifics.

Based on his letter, Schilling has a great relationship with the Hall of Fame. But they – for reasons that don’t make a whole lot of sense – have nothing to do with the HOF voting. That is the BBWA. And the BBWA, as you know, is made up of writers. And 71% of those BBWA writers thought Schilling was worthy of HOF induction. And yet, when discussing what has been written about him in the past, Schilling claims that “nothing, zero, none of the claims being made by any of the writers hold merit.” Does that include those who voted for him? I am confused.

He states: “The media has created a Curt Schilling that does not and has never existed.” So, when a reporter reports on what Schilling said in an interview, or on his radio show, or what he tweeted, who is it that creating something? When you tweet this:


who is the creator? I just don’t understand. Reporters report. Sure, they have biases like the rest of us, but Schilling is and has been hoisted on his own petard, not some imaginary boogeyman the “press” created out of whole cloth because, to his thinking, they don’t like his politics (more about that below).

Schilling wrote: “I stood at my locker 400+ times after my starts and took every question and answered honestly.” Does doing your job (and admittedly, more openly and honestly than many other professional athletes) give you the right, the permission structure, to call them liars or advocate their death? Should writers just look past his violent rhetoric because he answered a handful of their questions?

Schilling accuses writers of deceit: “Those people who stood there asking the questions KNOW [his emphasis] what they are claiming is untrue yet they quote, re-quote and link to one another story after story that began as lies and grew into bigger ones.” If that is the case, if the writers “know” what they are writing and linking to are false, why hasn’t Schilling filed a defamation suit against any of them? If someone accused me of being a Nazi-lover, or a homophobe, or an insurrectionist, I would be shouting from the mountaintops and suing in courtrooms to get the record corrected. All Schilling has done is confirmed the stories with his big mouth and his twitchy thumbs.

Schilling claims what a great teammate he was (and, I have no doubt that is true). He talks of all the different types of people he has played with, including gays. If that isn’t the “I have many black/Jewish/gay friends” argument, I have no idea what is. I hate to deliver this piece of obvious news, but being a great teammate to a gay person does not give you license to be a homophobe.

Schilling feels he is being unfairly maligned and lumped in with cheaters or other scofflaws. I think he is (shockingly) being narrow-minded. Writers can hold two thoughts in their minds at once. They can choose not to vote for players for a multitude of reasons. It is highly likely that Clemens and Bonds are not in the HOF because of their respective PED allegations. And it is very possible that Omar Vizquel’s vote tally fell because of the domestic violence claims by his wife. And we can assume that Schilling has fallen short because he is an asshole.

In his letter to the HOF, Schilling points out all the humanitarian awards he has won, many of which were voted on by writers. “Do those awards and 22 years absent of a single validating event to support their claims define me?” he asks. Schilling is a bright guy. There is no world – outside of Wonderland – that he does not see that his words and actions over the past decade have had a deleterious effect on people’s view of him. Schilling wants his HOF election to be solely about his actions on the field: “I’ll defer to the veterans committee and men whose opinions actually matter and who are in a position to actually judge a player.” But it is those same players who have been exceedingly quiet in his defense. One might turn that deference on its head and ask: Do those players want to be lumped in with this particular reprobate who gets post-career attention being a right-wing troll and social media flamethrower? Do they want to share a stage with this man? Or a drink on the porch of the Otesaga? Do they want their HOF credentials tarnished by his admission? I don’t know the answer to these questions; and if he gets 16 additional votes next year, none of us ever will.

Schilling would have you believe that he has been excluded due to his conservative politics. He states – without any evidence, ahem – that most of the BBWA are “left-leaning.” If what he avers was true – that writers are lefties and won’t vote conservatives into the HOF – then the Hall would be a lonely place. Oh, and has been pointed out repeatedly, this guy got 100% of the votes a few years ago (the guy on the right, in case there was any confusion).

But, in the upside down world, Steve Carlton’s politics weren’t too conservative for the BBWA, but Schilling’s are?

I don’t – and won’t ever – have a vote for the Hall of Fame. But I am what some people call a “Big Hall” guy. It is a museum of the history of the game, and that history – warts and all – should be on display. And I find it a bit hypocritical to have Bonds, Clemens, and Pete Rose prominently displayed in exhibits upstairs, while refusing to give them plaques downstairs. As I have written before, I think these guys should get in on their merits, and then all the facts should be included on their plaque – not just their stats. Like “…In addition, Rose was banned from baseball for betting on Reds games when he was their manager.” Or “In addition, Bonds’ records are viewed as dubious due to his rumored use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout the second half of his career.” Schilling’s could say, “In addition, Schilling came under fire for his racist, homophobic, anti-democratic screeds after his career ended.”

But I would also add another wrinkle (Mina Kimes referenced part of this wrinkle the other day, and whenever you can be in the company of Mina Kimes, you are doing something right). Each ballot should have two boxes:

  • Induction
  • Induction Weekend

Writers would be able to vote for induction, but they could also vote to do so without the pomp and circumstance of induction weekend. The player doesn’t get the right to be on stage for the ceremony; and he doesn’t get the platform to spew anything. He doesn’t ride, go to the dinner, or hang out with the other players drinking scotch and reminiscing about the “glory days.” It will be confirmed that he is and was part of the fabric of baseball, and his career merits the honor of being in the Hall of Fame, but his actions – on and/or off the field – do not comport with what the Hall wants represented on their most hallowed weekend.

If we could do both – have the plaques state the whole truth and have the weekend not tarnished by their presence – I would vote for Rose, Bonds, Clemens, and maybe even Curt Schilling, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

But asking for that amount of change from two pretty stodgy organizations is something that could probably only happen to Alice, in Wonderland.