Schilling received 52.3 percent of the Hall vote last year from the BBWAA and appeared on his way to eventual induction. Then he opened his mouth again and again and again, and now his Hall chances appear totally shot.
But while numerous baseball writers have decided to withhold their votes from Schilling in the future, Wallace Matthews, formerly of ESPN and now of NY Sports Day, is taking things a step further. In a column published Wednesday, Matthews announced that his struggle over whether to vote for Schilling is causing him to give up his vote altogether.
The piece is fiery right from the start:
If baseball’s Sabremetricians could come up with a way to quantify character, Curt Schilling’s would be a negative number.
Schilling has said numerous disgusting things over the past year, but what particularly irked Matthews (among many other Hall voters) was the suggestion on Twitter that lynching journalists was “awesome.” Matthews was so perturbed by this comment that he offered to fight Schilling.
His personal views have often troubled and at times offended me — he is an unabashed collector of Nazi memorabilia — but I have kept that out of my thought process.
Until, that is, about a month ago, when he retweeted a photo of a man wearing a T-shirt advocating the lynching of journalists, with the comment, “OK, so much awesome here . . .”
Beyond the offensiveness of any reference to lynching, which is profoundly racist in itself, is the threat to men and women in my profession. That is something I take personally and if Curt Schilling really wants to “lynch” journalists, he can start with me, in a boxing ring with 10-ounce gloves on. That will put an end to his sick little fantasy.
Here’s how Matthews column ended:
Which brings me to this year’s ballot. I can’t bring myself to vote for a player who advocates — or at least thinks “funny” — a call to violence against me or any of my brethren.
And I can no longer bring myself not to vote for proven cheaters when the person who was supposed to be policing them will soon have a plaque in Cooperstown.
So it seems as if there’s only one solution: I’m giving up my “privilege” of voting for the Hall of Fame.
The Hall, of course, will go on quite nicely without my vote.
And I will be able to sleep soundly without the headache of having to face an “honor” that these days feels more like a curse.
Matthews also backed up his decision to quit Hall of Fame voting with a criticism of the recently elected Bud Selig as well as with this anecdote, which seems to be referring to Bert Blyleven (though it could perhaps be Goose Gossage):
I thought I had reached my breaking point a couple of years ago when, while covering a Yankees road game in a Midwest city, a pitcher who had recently been voted into the Hall of Fame — he was a borderline candidate at best but I voted for him, I must admit, under pressure from some colleagues — came upon the Yankees beat crew waiting for the elevator down to the post-game clubhouse.
This borderline Hall of Famer looked at the group of people, many of whom had voted for him, and turned to a companion. “Look at all the sheep,” he said, derisively. Then he began making ridiculous bleating noises. I couldn’t decide whether to belt him in the mouth or refer him to a psychiatrist. All I know is in that moment, I was profoundly sorry I voted for him and slightly-better-than average stats.
It’s a shame that the Hall of Fame conversation has become so toxic. It’s a shame there’s so much criticism and condescension directed at the writers. It’s also a shame that Schilling is so vile that writers can’t bear vote for him, despite his obvious Cooperstown credentials.