There has been a lot of talk -- a LOT of talk -- about whether or not Curt Schilling belongs in the Hall of Fame. I am on record saying that yes, I do think he is a Hall of Famer. However, I must admit that by saying that, I could be falling for some of the mass media hype that, in my own small way, I contribute to on a daily basis.
Take two pitchers. One is Curt Schilling. The other is a guy I do not consider a Hall of Famer at all. They are almost exact contemporaries.
Which is which?
Pitcher A: 216-146Pitcher B: 211-144
Pitcher A: 3.46 ERAPitcher B: 3.28 ERA
Pitcher A: 127 ERA+Pitcher B: 127 ERA+
Pitcher A: 3,261 innings pitchedPitcher B: 3,256 innings pitched
Pitcher A: Six-time All-StarPitcher B: Six-time All-Star
Pitcher A: Zero ERA titlesPitcher B: Two ERA titles
Pitcher A: Twice led the league in victoriesPitcher B: Once led the league in victories
Pitcher A: 3-1 with 0.93 ERA in Division SeriesPitcher B: 3-0 with 0.98 ERA in Division Series
Pitcher A: Nine seasons with 200+ innings pitchedPitcher B: Nine seasons with 200+ innings pitched
And so on. Now, obviously I am cherry picking a bit on my stats ... that's part of the game. I could tell you that Pitcher A is 4-1 in the World Series with a 2.06 ERA and a bloody sock, and you would know that's Schilling. I could tell you that Pitcher B is 0-3 in the World Series with a 6.04 ERA, and he was named in the Mitchell Report and you might know that's Kevin Brown.
But my point is that when it came to pitching, actual pitching, Schilling and Brown were probably just about equal when it came to effectiveness. They did it in different ways: Schilling's strikeout-to-walk ratio is off the charts, but he gave up a lot of home runs. Brown did not get nearly the strikeouts, and hitters got on base a touch more, but because of his preposterous hard sinker he gave up 135 fewer homers and induced 137 more double plays.
Sure, you could make the point that Schilling had a bigger impact. He was better in the postseason. and he was clearly a more popular figure in the game. It's funny, we often talk here about what makes a Hall of Famer, but let's face it, the way the thing is set up right now there is a definitive answer: A Hall of Famer is someone who gets 75 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America. And Schilling is in far better position to be become a Hall of Famer based on that standard. I could be wrong, but I don't think Brown will even get enough votes to stay on the ballot for a second year.
The way it works is this: There are overwhelming Hall of Famers -- hitters with 3,000 hits, pitchers with 300 victories, players who so dominate their era that nobody can deny them -- and they will get in no matter what. And then there are the rest, the players who don't hit the magic numbers, the players who had dominant moments but did not sustain it quite long enough, the players who certainly MIGHT be Hall of Famers but, then again, MIGHT NOT.
And if you are one of those, well, it couldn't hurt you to create an aura. Here's a very quick chart:
How to create an aura: ABQ -- Always Be Quotable -- and win a huge game with blood soaking through your sock.
How to not create an aura: Be a sourpuss and sign a $100 million contract which requires the team to include 12 cross country private plane trips for your family.