Close, But Not Quite: Why Curt Schilling Will Just Miss The Hall Of Fame

Michael McMasterContributor IIIJune 26, 2008

In 2004, the curse was broken. The Red Sox could finally forget Bill Buckner, Aaron Boone, and Bucky Dent. It was going to take something heroic for the Red Sox to break the curse. The hero appeared in the form of Curt Schilling.

Today, the bloody sock that Curt Schilling wore is something of legend in Boston. And even after the Red Sox won their second World Series in four years, Curt Schilling is still hailed as a hero.

Schilling’s gritty and tough performance ranks with the greatest in sports history among Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game and Tiger Wood’s unforgettable win at the US Open just last week.

Only disgruntled Yankee fans will contest that it was ketchup in that sock. In fact, Curt Schilling was badly hurt, and his bloodied sock is an unforgettable testament to Schilling’s will to win.

But Curt’s playoff excellence did not begin or end with Game Six of the 2004 ALCS. Schilling first reached the playoffs in 1993 with the Philadelphia Phillies and after winning one game and losing another, he took an eight year break from the postseason spotlight.

In 2001, Schilling would return to the big stage with the Arizona Diamondbacks. His return was nothing short of brilliant and in six games, Schilling posted a 4-0 record with a 1.12 ERA.

His ERA in the 2001 postseason is impressive, but it is even more impressive when taking into consideration the teams that he threw against. In the World Series, Schilling threw against the New York Yankees, who at the time were vying for their fourth consecutive World Series win. The Yankee offense was dominant, and Schilling shut them down.

For the rest of his career, Schilling continued to have great success in the postseason, and he has three World Series rings to show for it.

With surgery now threatening an end to his career, Schilling can look back on a magnificent accumulation of postseason statistics. He is 11-2 in his postseason career and boasts a 2.23 ERA and 120 strikeouts.

One day, Schilling’s 38 will most likely be retired in Fenway and Red Sox fans will always look back and be thankful for what he has given them.

But Curt Schilling is not a Hall of Fame pitcher.

With only 216 career wins, Schilling has not been a consistent starter throughout the regular season during his career. He has been spotty at times, and while he is certainly a great pitcher, there are 10 reasons why he should not be in the Hall of Fame.

All 10 of them are people that played in the same generation as him and deserve to be there first.

1.     Roger Clemens. Roger may never make it into the Hall of Fame because of lingering questions about steroids, but there is no misremembering his accomplishments. Over his long career, Clemens amassed seven Cy Young Awards and an MVP award. He also finished second in the Cy Young voting once, and third in the voting twice. Clemens has won 354 games and has also won a World Series. His career 3.12 ERA is better than Schilling’s 3.46, and Schilling never once won a Cy Young Award.

2.     Randy Johnson. The Big Unit has five Cy Young Awards, a career 3.26 ERA, and 4,692 career strikeouts. Not to mention he was a teammate of Schilling’s on the 2001 Diamondbacks. If anyone deserves to go to the Hall before Curt, it should be his mentor.

3.      Pedro Martinez. Pedro may not be the most likeable guy in the Bigs, but he is one hell of a pitcher. Three Cy Young Awards, a World Series ring, and a career 2.84 ERA. Pedro may only have 211 career wins (five behind Curt), but he as only thrown 452 career games, compared to Curt’s 569.

4.      Tommy Glavine. This is a guy who spent a large majority of his career playing second fiddle to Gregg Maddux with the Atlanta Braves, and he still managed to win two Cy Young awards and compile 305 career victories while maintaining a 3.53 ERA. Glavine has won at least ten games in all but three of years of his storied twenty-one year baseball career; he has been a mark of consistency in Major League Baseball. Two of those seasons were his very first in the league.

5.      Gregg Maddux. This eight time All Star and four-peat Cy Young award winner practically reinvented the strike-zone in the National League. His stuff was never overpowering, but his accuracy was unrivaled. With 350 career wins, Maddux is a sure thing for the Hall of Fame.

6.      John Smoltz. He is probably the most versatile pitcher of this generation. John Smoltz can do it all. As a starter, Smoltz has 210 wins, just a fraction less than Schilling. And as a closer, Smoltz has a 154 career saves. Smoltz has one career Cy Young award, but even that feat is impressive considering the number of years he played under Bobby Cox with Maddux and Glavine.

7.      Mariano Rivera. As a closer, Mo has 64 career wins (A quarter of the way to Schilling’s mark). But more importantly, he is third on the all-time list for saves, with 464. His career ERA is 2.92, and he has at times seemed unhittable. More importantly, Mo’s postseason career is every bit as impressive as Schilling’s. In seventy-six postseason games, Mo has thirty-four saves and eight wins over 117 innings of work. With a postseason ERA of just 0.77.

8.      Trevor Hoffman. He has most career saves of all time with 539. Career 2.79 ERA. He is a sure-fire Hall of Famer.

9.    Mike Mussina. Mussina may not have the postseason success that Schilling has, but his regular season numbers are clearly better. Mussina has 260 wins and just 149 losses. He has also pitched in 50 fewer games than Schilling. If Mussina continues to play, he will probably have 300 wins by the time his career is over. If he accomplishes that feat, he will be a Hall of Fame pitcher.

10.    Andy Pettitte. I am by no means suggesting that Andy Pettitte is a Hall of Fame pitcher, but if Curt Schilling is put into the Hall of Fame, Andy needs to be there too. Pettitte’s postseason pitching has been phenomenal. He leads baseball in career all time postseason wins. His 139 career postseason strikeouts are undeniably impressive. Pettitte is not a Hall of Fame pitcher. He has been great in the postseason, but his regular season performance has not been Cooperstown material. Neither has Schilling’s.

The Hall of Fame is a unique fraternity. It is not a club for really good baseball players. Cooperstown is for baseball immortals. People like Williams, Ruth, Cobb, Dimaggio, Aaron, and Mantle.

But in order for it to maintain the mystique that it still possesses the Hall of Fame needs to be incomparably selective. Players that are being considered for Cooperstown need to be met with extreme scrutiny, and their entire resume must demonstrate their superiority to others in the league.

In Schilling’s case, his resume simply does not separate him from the other great pitchers of his generation. There are plenty of other pitchers that deserve to go to the Hall of Fame before him, and for that reason, he is not a Hall of Fame pitcher.

Curt Schilling was a great pitcher. But Cooperstown is not for the great, it is for the greatest.