Matthews: Why I’m Done Voting for the Hall of Fame – NY Sports Day


NY Sports Day
Wally Matthews

Matthews: Why I’m Done Voting for the Hall of Fame

Andy Esposito/NYSD

If baseball’s Sabremetricians could come up with a way to quantify character, Curt Schilling’s would be a negative number.

I bring this up today as I contemplate my Hall of Fame ballot for 2017, a task that over the years has gotten to be less a pleasure than a chore.

As if  trying to determine whose numbers are real and whose were inflated by artificial (read: chemical) and therefore illegal means weren’t difficult enough, the Hall has further complicated matters this year by voting in Bud Selig, a  co-conspirator with Donald Fehr and Gene Orza in allowing the steroid era to occur in the first place. (See my column on this from last Monday).

Plus, the vitriol directed at voters from the fans and sometimes, from the players, makes what should be a yearly event a baseball writer looks forward to one many of us have come to dread. The “privilege” of voting for the Hall of Fame has become among the most thankless tasks a ball writer can perform.

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 his slightly-better-than average stats.

But a guy’s personality is not supposed to be the criteria for voting, his performance is. However, voters are human beings and sometimes it is difficult to separate the man from the player.

That is where the question of Curt Schilling’s candidacy comes up for me this year. I have voted for Schilling in the past, based on his superior career WAR (80.7, higher than that of Tom Glavine, Don Sutton, Jim Palmer, Bob Feller, and yes, even Sandy Koufax) and his outstanding post-season numbers.

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 the 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.

But once again, it points up the difficulty and thanklessness of the task of voting for the Hall of Fame in the first place.

Already, baseball has made it impossible for many of us to vote for its all-time home run leader, a 350-game winner (Roger Clemens), a 600-plus home run hitter (Sammy Sosa) and a three-time MVP (Alex Rodriguez) based on the very understandable belief that steroid use violates the Hall’s “character, integrity and sportsmanship” requirement for induction.

And the Hall’s Today’s Game Era Committee further muddied the waters by enshrining Selig, who was either willfully ignorant of the steroid plague in his game, or complicit in it.

Now comes Dan Shaughnessy, the highly-respected Boston Globe columnist, invoking the character, integrity and sportsmanship clause in regards to Schilling’s apparent advocacy of violence against journalists. (Yes, I know he later “apologized,” but please.)

“Count me out on Curt Schilling,” Shaughnessy wrote two weeks ago. “I have held my nose and voted for the Big Blowhard in recent years (11-2 in postseason, ridiculous walk/strikeout ratio), and he was up to 52.3 percent (75 percent required) last year, but I shall invoke the “character” clause this year. Schill has transitioned from a mere nuisance to an actual menace to society. His tweet supporting the lynching of journalists was the last straw for this voter. Curt later claimed he was joking. Swell.”

That seems like sound reasoning to me. And yet, Schilling has the numbers earn him a plaque. What to do?

The same question applies to the steroid guys, and to the guys who might’ve done steroids, and to the guys who chose not to do steroids and as a result fell a little bit shy of what is generally considered to be Hall of Fame performance.

And even that is open to debate nowadays. Is batting average still important, or is it OPS? Do we give credit for 300 wins, or place more weight on ERA+, FIP and xFIP? Is WAR the be-all and end-all?

It seems no matter who you vote for or what criteria you use, someone will ridicule you for being an ignoramus, or worse. And the players you do vote for seem  as likely to ridicule you — or call for your murder — as they are to express their gratitude.

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.



30 Comments

  1. Bill Keane

    December 14, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Dude, if you had set out to write a column to make yourself come across as a self-absorbed, whiny, diaper pin wearing millennial you couldn’t do much worse than this pathetic column. Also, you make yourself sound like you know nothing about baseball by inferring Blyleven was borderline.

  2. Bill Keane

    December 14, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Separately, I do support your decision to admit you are not up to the task of voting for the Hall of Fame.

  3. Brian Sullivan

    December 14, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Define Hall of Fame Performance.

  4. Pingback: Longtime writer Wallace Matthews hates Curt Schilling so much he's quitting Hall of Fame voting

  5. Pingback: Longtime writer Wallace Matthews hates Curt Schilling so much he’s quitting Hall of Fame voting – The Sports News

  6. Pingback: Longtime writer Wallace Matthews hates Curt Schilling so much he’s quitting Hall of Fame voting | Our Ladies and Gentlemen

  7. Slader

    December 15, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Schillings tweet was a joke. Offensive? Sure. But it was a joke. If you literally think he wants to lynch journalists, you lack the mental capacity to be making a vote to begin with.

  8. Pingback: Hall Of Fame Voter Who Wants To Fight Curt Schilling Gives Up Hall Of Fame Vote – DailySportsAddict.com

  9. Wub

    December 15, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    First they came for the Jews, and I said nothing.
    Next they came for the blacks, and I said nothing.
    Next they came for the gays, and I said nothing.
    Next they came for the Mexicans, and I said nothing.
    Next they came for the baseball writers, and I said “BY GOD THE SANCTITY OF THE HALL OF FAME MUST BE DEFENDED!!!!”

  10. Brian Jones

    December 18, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Touche! I agree with you. Those that deride you are the people who cheated on tests in college and highschool and deserve none of your time. The world is worse off for every one of them! They are unAmerican or at least the America that fights Communism and Fascism every day! They can go live somewhere else where cheating is considered normal and everyone lives in poverty as a result!

  11. Shawn

    December 18, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Toughen up, Wallace. You write about sports for a living….and get paid to do it. You go to games….and get paid to do it. In return, the honor of determining a baseball HOFer is a chore, apparently because some athletes are, shockingly, dicks. Its funny when people are critical of what others say for a living, then have issues when criticized. Not funny ha-ha, but funny sad. Baaaaaaaaa!

  12. Pingback: Did Curt Schilling tweet his way out of Cooperstown? -RocketNews

  13. Pingback: Did Curt Schilling tweet his way out of Cooperstown? – infinite news

  14. Pingback: Did Curt Schilling tweet his way out of Cooperstown? - Hombres Mag For Men | Hombres Mag For Men

  15. Pingback: Did Curt Schilling tweet his way out of Cooperstown? | TotallyPopCulture

  16. Pingback: Did Curt Schilling tweet his way out of Cooperstown?

  17. Pingback: Did Curt Schilling tweet his way out of Cooperstown? | YouRulz

  18. Pingback: As he loses Hall of Fame votes, Curt Schilling blasts writers, suspected PED users | MLB Real Talk

  19. Pingback: Schilling blasts writers, suspected PED users (Yahoo Sports) – E Newspaper

  20. Pingback: The press is pretty selective when it comes to judging Curt Schilling’s character | HardballTalk

  21. John Steeves

    January 14, 2017 at 1:50 am

    I could not agree with you more! Bud Selig is a disgrace to Baseball! He did not care about the steroid use in baseball! As long as the home run production was up and attendance increased! If anyone thinks that he did not know, they are fools! It wasn’t until the Media called him out and he was forced to save face and his deriaire! Also, he was called out by Torre and Larusso! Yes, he botched the All-star game! No games, especially All-star should end in a tie!!!!! Well, let’s see what his cousin MANFRIED is going to do! Most likely more of the same!!!

  22. Pingback: Writers Vote Politics, Not Baseball, in Rejecting Curt Schilling for Hall of Fame - New Right News

  23. Pingback: Writers Vote Politics, Not Baseball, in Rejecting Curt Schilling for Hall of Fame - #RedNationRising

  24. Pingback: Writers Vote Politics, Not Baseball, in Rejecting Curt Schilling for Hall of Fame - Live President Donald Trump Popularity Polls

  25. Pingback: Writers Vote Politics, Not Baseball, in Rejecting Curt Schilling for Hall of Fame | ValuBit News

  26. Pingback: Writers Vote Politics, Not Baseball, in Rejecting Curt Schilling for Hall of Fame | Breaking News

  27. Pingback: Massarotti: Baseball Hall Of Fame Voting Trends Show Signs That Standards Are Getting Lax « CBS Boston

  28. Pingback: Writers Vote Politics, Not Baseball, in Rejecting Curt Schilling for Hall of Fame – Breitbart « News and Information

  29. Pingback: Writers Vote Politics, Not Baseball, in Rejecting Curt Schilling for Hall of Fame - Politicians

  30. Pingback: A Q&A with Wallace Matthews on covering boxing, avoiding hot takes and why he stopped voting for the Hall of Fame – The -30-

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *