Letâ€™s suppose, for the sake of discussion, that Curt Schilling has pitched his last game in the major leagues.
Hey, I donâ€™t want to write him off for 2009. But he will be 42 next season, coming off shoulder surgery. Even players as tough as he is eventually find an obstacle they canâ€™t overcome. Heâ€™ll probably try rehab and see how that goes before making a final decision.
But if his career turns out to be over, a question arises: Should Curt Schilling be elected to baseballâ€™s Hall of Fame?
The reason I bring this up is because Schilling pitched in Greensboro in 1987, going 8-15 with a bad team, posting a 3.82 ERA and leading the South Atlantic League with 179 strikeouts in 189 innings.
Only one player who has worn a Greensboro uniform through the years has ever been named to the Hall of Fame â€“ Johnny Mize. Now, when Mariano Rivera retires, heâ€™s a lock. And I like Derek Jeterâ€™s chances.
But Schilling is an interesting case. Thereâ€™s a five-year waiting period after a player retires before his name goes on the ballot. And Schillingâ€™s stats will be thoroughly dissected in that time. So letâ€™s have some fun and start here.
Schillingâ€™s record is 216-146, a winning percentage of .597 with a career ERA of 3.46. He ranks 14th on the all-time strikeout list with 3,116. His 216 wins are tied for 79th all-time. He won 20 games three times but doesnâ€™t have a Cy Young Award. His post-season numbers are sterling â€“ 11-2 overall, 4-1 in the World Series with a 2.06 ERA.
There are merits in that record. But I think you have to put his career in perspective, first with some retired starting pitchers and then with his contemporaries.
There are four retired guys who arenâ€™t in the Hall of Fame that many people think should be â€“ Bert Blyleven, Tommy John, Jim Kaat and Jack Morris. None of them ever won a Cy Young.
Blyleven compiled a record of 287-250 (.534 percentage) with a 3.31 ERA and ranks fifth on the strikeout list with 3,701. He won 20 games once. His postseason record was 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the World Series.
John went 288-231 (.555) with a 3.34 ERA and won 20 games three times. His postseason record is 4-1 overall, 2-1 in the World Series. He missed the 1975 season after the ligament replacement surgery that now bears his name. He was 124-106 (.539) before the surgery and 164-125 (.567) after.
Kaat piled up a 283-237 mark (.544) with a 3.45 ERA. He won 20 games three times and went 1-3 in the postseason and 1-2 in the World Series.
Morris is a personal favorite of mine. He went 254-186 (.577) with a 3.90 ERA. In the postseason he was 7-4, including 4-2 in the World Series. He won two games in the 1984 Series with the Tigers, both complete games, and two more in 1991 with Minnesota against the Braves. His Game 7 effort of 10 shutout innings to beat the Braves is the best postseason game Iâ€™ve ever seen pitched (I remember, but didnâ€™t see, Don Larsenâ€™s perfect game).
Now letâ€™s look at some current players. To me, Greg Maddux (350-220, .614, 3.12 ERA), Tom Glavine (305-202, .602, 3.53 ERA) and Randy Johnson (288-156, .649, 3.23 ERA, second all-time in strikeouts) are first-ballot selections. As for Roger Clemens, his numbers are off the charts but itâ€™s an understatement to say thereâ€™s a lot to sort out before the final decision is made.
Three other current pitchers are certainly in the discussion â€“ Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Mike Mussina.
Martinez probably should go in the same class as Maddux, Glavine and Johnson. His record of 211-94 has produced a .692 percentage with a 2.84 ERA. He has won 20 games twice and has collected three Cy Youngs. Heâ€™s 6-2 overall in postseason, 1-2 in the World Series.
Smoltz, who will also try to come back from surgery next season, is 210-147 (.588) with a 3.26 ERA. In addition, he has 154 saves, years that kept his win total down. He ranks 16th all-time in strikeouts with 3,011. He won 20 games once and has one Cy Young Award. Heâ€™s 12-12 in postseason overall with a 2.65 ERA, 1-4 in the World Series with a 2.47 ERA.
So, how does Schilling stack up against these candidates?
Iâ€™m not taking one side or the other right now. I can be persuaded either way. If you would like to weigh in with an opinion, send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
ALUMNI NEWS: Last week was tough for former Greensboro folks who were coaching in the majors. When the Mets fired Willie Randolph, they also axed first base coach Tom Nieto, who managed the Bats in 1997 and â€™98. Exactly how the Mets will benefit from a new first base coach remains to be seen, but Nieto apparently was a â€œRandolph manâ€ and had to go.
Then the Blue Jays gave the pink slip to manager John Gibbons and three coaches, including hitting coach Gary Denbo, who managed the Hornets in 1989 and 1993.
Bill Hass has watched and covered minor league baseball in Greensboro since 1979.
*****Above article from Bill Hass, read more from Bill at gsohoppers.com*****