By STEVEN TRAVERS
Sportswriters used to be a comparatively conservative lot. The great Jim Murray was a Republican and believing Catholic. Many disliked Cassius Clay when he declared himself a Muslim named Muhammad Ali and skipped out on Army service during Vietnam.
But athletes have always faced backlash when they lent their opinions to the affairs of the day. Ted Williams, a sunburned Republican fighter pilot, encountered enmity from the Kennedyites in the liberal Boston press.
In the 1970s, the San Francisco Giants had a disproportionate number of evangelical Christians, several of whom made note that the City was home to the Satanist movement. Latino Catholic players who did not square with the open homosexuality of San Francisco were drummed out of the corps.
But what is happening to Curt Schilling is a disgrace, and more precisely, it is accurate to say it is the kind of thing liberals do to conservatives, but conservatives do not do to liberals . . . which is why conservatives are conservative in the first place. Honesty and decency matter to them. Today a majority of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America are liberals.
They have again denied Curt Schilling entrance to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is not what one would call a “sure fire” Hall of Famer, like for instance Tom Seaver or Sandy Koufax, but his record is magnificent, and if Don Drysdale or Jim Bunning or Jack Morris are Hall of Famers – which they all are – then so is Schilling. For what it’s worth, Drysdale was a personal friend of Senator Robert Kennedy, while Bunning was a Republican Senator from Kentucky. Morris was just plain cantankerous.
Schilling played from 1988 to 2007. The highlights of his career were in 1993 when he was the ace of the Philadelphia Phillies National League champions; 2001 when he and Randy Johnson performed at a superhuman level against all odds to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks to a World Series win that pierced the heart of Osama bin Laden, sure he destroyed America’s will to live a month or so prior; and 2004, when he became a legend on par with Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski in leading the Boston Red Sox to one of the most improbable, insane, legendary and epic comebacks in the history of anything!
He won 216 lifetime games, which falls short of the “300 club” ensuring Cooperstown entrance, but he pitched in the era of analytics in which starters were not required to throw complete games, and it is unlikely we will see any 300-game winners again in our lifetime. He is in the “3,000 strikeout” club, an elite group that includes all Hall of Famers or future Hall of Famers with the exception of Roger Clemens, denied Hall entrance because he abused steroids. Speaking of steroids, several other pitchers on this list were suspected of using “juice” but it could not be confirmed, but Schilling is absolutely not one of them.
He was one of the most outspoken players decrying steroids, testifying to Congress about it in 2005 and adamantly stating that the many players he competed against were cheaters and should not be rewarded. Considering his record was compiled cleanly largely against cheaters, it is not inconceivable that he could have won an extra 20 or 30 games had their been a level playing field.
While his regular season career record is admirable, if there is an argument favoring Schilling it is his post-season performance. In the entire history of baseball he ranks among the most elite stars as a “money” pitcher, a post-season superstar who shone brightest when the most was on the line. This is the highest echelon of sports superstardom, and earns players the greatest adoration from fans and normally the media. It did back then when he did it.
In 2004 Schilling took the mound at Yankee Stadium in a must-win game, the pressure as unbearable as can be imagined in the sports world. All odds were against him. He had torn the tendon in his ankle earlier and was deemed too hurt to play, but had a little-known procedure done to try and keep the tendon from shearing before game six. As the game progressed, the tendon did split, causing blood to seep onto his sock. The pain was excruciating, and the blood noticeable to fans watching on TV or at the game. He pitched through it, leading Boston to victory over the hated Yankees. In the World Series the pain was equally excruciating but he beat St. Louis to help his team capture their first World Series since 1918, thus ending the “curse of the Bambino.”
Schilling’s pure post-season statistics rank with such luminaries as Christy Mathewson, Whitey Ford, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Catfish Hunter, and Orel Hershiser, the very best of the “money” pitchers, but his clutch efforts pitching under the threat of another 9/11 terrorist incident in 2001 and then the insane “bloody sock” game in 2004 propel him in the pantheon above and perhaps beyond all the aforementioned.
The average fan might not quite understand what sports superstardom in Boston is all about, but for Schilling to do what he did in beating the Yankees and ending the “curse” made him a hero beyond athletic status, but rather consider him like Saint Patrick ridding Ireland of its snakes. This is not an exaggeration.
Then, during the post-World Series victory parade through the streets of Boston, the camera panned in on Schilling, who gave a “V for Victory’ sign and stated, “Go Bush.” George W. Bush’s re-election against John Kerry of Massachusetts was just a week or so away.
The first cannon fire came from Ralph Barbieri, a notoriously Left-wing San Francisco sports talk host, who suggested Schilling had faked the injury for sympathy or dramatics, using paint or dye. Schilling’s doctors quickly put the lie to this defamation.
The fact is that a large majority of white American athletes are Republicans. black players less so (but still probably close to 50 percent). Schilling could be excused a little partisanship here and there. Perhaps Schilling’s greatest mistake was not merely being Republican, but being a smart one, and an outspoken smart one at that.
In Philadelphia he was known for calling in to talk shows, defending himself against detractors but openly advocating a conservative point of view. He stated Hillary Clinton “should be in a jail somewhere,” which is so true a fact as to be rendered near-Gospel. He wrote “the media sucked,” also Gospel truth. He has always been a fierce defender of the American military, which brings up a strange dynamic. One of the heroes of the infamous Black Hawk Down incident in 1993 was a man named Dan Schilling. A documentary was made including interviews with the participants. Dan Schilling was the splitting image of Curt Schilling. On top of that, he spoke exactly like Curt. Surely they were related, and probably twins, yet an Internet search finds no confirmation of this fact. Why? The relationship would be beneficial to both Curt and Dan, association with a fellow hero whether on the baseball or battle field, yet if they are related they keep silent about it. What does this say about Curt? That he does not need the adulation, does not seek it out, and surely does not need to grift any glory off a soldier in battle, regardless of his relationship to him.
Curt Schilling is a devout Christian, an “evangelical.” Curt’s wife has battled cancer. One famed photo shows the husband hugging her after chemotherapy, her head shaved bald. Then Curt beat throat cancer, caused by years of “dipping” snuff tobacco. He went on a crusade warning kids against doing the same. He also claimed to have lost $50 million on a failed video game venture. Somehow this engendered zero sympathy from the media. LeBron James can spout off about anything he wants because as a black Democrat he is a “sacred cow.” Schilling is an “oppressor” who believes the Holy Bible.
Schilling declared himself opposed to gay marriage, is pro-gun, adamantly against abortion, and opposed to men wearing dresses urinating inches away from little girls in public bathrooms. Of course so is most of America. Then the “fit hit the shan.” Schilling was an ESPN baseball analyst when he compared Islamic Jihad to the Nazis.
This immediately earned him dismissal from his job, which he was absolutely great at. Genial, talkative, intelligent, he could break down the art of pitching like nobodies’ business. But the remark is worth some study. First check out archives of the History Channel for “Nazi Jihad,” which details how, when Adolf Hitler came to power and then sent the Wehrmacht into North Africa, the Muslim world saw him as a savior who would rid the Middle East of the Jews. After the Russian Revolution they had moved to Jerusalem and within a few short years were more successful and prosperous than the Muslims who had lived there for centuries under murderous Ottoman rule.
Otto Skorzeny, Hitler’s number one S.S. special operations man, was assigned to organize Muslim S.S. units to fight the English, the Americans . . . and the Jews. Many Muslims were flown to Germany for special training and they carried out numerous missions in support of the Afrika Korps. They were led by the vicious Palestinian nationalist Amin al-Husseini, an ardent admirer of Hitler’s (who admired him with equal fervor).
After the war Skorzeny continued to work with the Muslims to destroy the state of Israel, as well as organize Nazi colonies in South America. The rhetoric of Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and a plethora of Muslim terrorist organizations not to mention states, most notably Iran, profess a variety of Apocalyptic desires to literally wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. Iran’s leaders have often expressed a desire to destroy Israel if they ever – as the Biden Administrations seems bent on letting happen – acquire nuclear weaponry, even if this means blowing themselves up in the process. Somewehere in the Koran somebody called “the Mahdi” has been advocating this and Muslims have been using it as a source of inspiration at least since Great Britain was in the Sudan in the 19th Century.
In other words, the only thing that prevents Islamic Jihad from doing as much damage as the Nazis is the United States, Israel, and a handful of allies, not letting them do it! (When Republicans are in power, we are better at preventing them from doing it; when Democrats are in power, less so.)
Or, more precisely, Curt Schilling was 100 percent accurate! That earned him dismissal from ESPN.
Then came January 6, 2021. Schilling expressed initial support for the people who stormed the Capitol and agreed with President Donald Trump that the 2020 election had been stolen from him. This, of course, is a capital offense according to the Left, but several things must be noted. When all the facts about what happened inside the Capitol came to light Schilling’s support of them diminished. He remained as many of the Right continue to be, mildly amused at what occurred. As for the election, much of what we now know was not known on January 6. What did we know? Or to be more precise, what did Curt Schilling know?
Well, we knew that the media had Trump down about eight points with no shot at winning, an obvious lie by the media and the pollsters to affect the outcome. We know that around midnight California time on Election Day, the Las Vegas oddsmakers, who are as serious as cancer, projected Trump as the winner by 90 percent! We know that in every swing state, Trump was winning, sometimes by four or five points, with 99 percent and even 100 percent of the precincts counted, only to have those outcomes mysteriously overturned in the dead of night over the next days. We know he carried a fair amount of GOP Congressional candidates over the finish line, which does not happen with losers. We know that the Democrats have perfected the art of stealing elections using ballot stuffing, ballot harvesting, “walking around money,” the “graveyard vote,” and all manner of other chicanery, at least since Tammany Hall.
Read Robert Cairo’s description of how Lyndon Johnson stole his Texas Senate seat in 1948, and used the exact same tactics to steal the election from Richard Nixon in 1960. We also know that the Democrats always steal the inner city vote in Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, Boston, New York, and probably have perfected this practice in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Raleigh. We also know, and this is so true, that if the exact same circumstances were turned around and the Republicans had won the way the the Democrats “won,” the Democrats and the media would be screaming bloody murder to this day. We also know that the violence of January 6 was a pale comparison to the violence unleashed on American cities for a year courtesy of Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
Curt Schilling’s crime was to know all of this, too, and to advertise his opinions on social media. Thus was an American sports hero, a great teammate and friend, a loyal husband and father, a devout Christian, patriot and supporter of the military, excoriated as a racist and an enemy of the state by the Left. This is the exact opposite of truth. It is in fact Satanic, in that lies and false works replace truth. Perhaps Mick Jagger sang it best: “All the cops are criminals, and all the sinners saints.”
Consider further that Schilling was expressing his opinion about two weeks before the Baseball Writers’ Association of America was due to render their verdict on his very-legitimate Hall of Fame chances. Had he been non-political, or smart, he would have held his tongue and he would be in, but no, Curt Schilling believes in free speech and his right to exercise said free speech in America. For this he was lumped in with gamblers who threw games and cheaters, his Christian values deemed a character flaw, and therefore a “reason” to disallow his entrance to Cooperstown.
Fans of Dr. Michael Savage might see parallels with how he has been denied entrance to Great Britain, his name sullied with racists, murderers . . . and Islamic Jihadists.
This is the world we live in, and it makes one wonder if Ernest Hemingway’s quote that it is still “worth fighting for” still stands up. Curt Schilling believes it is. Our enemies want us to disbelieve it.
After his denial in 2021, Schilling took to social media and declared that he knew what was going on, and did not have any desire to be part of it and therefore give it credence. He urged his name be taken off future ballots. He did not criticize anybody or call anybody out; he just let ‘em all know he knew what was true!
“I know that as a Republican that there’s some people that really don’t like that,” he said. “I don’t think that it kept me out or anything like that but I do know there are guys who probably will never vote for me because of the things I said or did. That’s the way it works . . .
“I’m a Republican,” he wrote. “I’m a former Red Sox. I have a nasty habit of talking, a lot, about anything anyone asks me and totally unconcerned about giving you my opinion. You will never question where I stand, right or wrong agree or disagree on anything.”
On January 25, 2022, the BBWAA had a chance to rectify its wrongs, but failed again. Schilling received fewer votes than a year earlier.
As for Mr. Schilling, he continues to let his opinions be heard on Twitter and in a live show on Facebook. He expresses no remorse and no rancor toward those small minds who try and hurt him. He survives; his cancer, his wife’s cancer, loss of income, loss of the ESPN job, probably many opportunities that men like LeBron James, who think the Chinese Communist party is just peachy, continue to reap rewards from. Commiserate with Curt on social media and he just replies that he is “blessed by God.”
The BBWAA consists, he said, of people who say they value character but have “none,” according to Schilling. Very few are willing in this day and age to speak out. Hall of Famer Goose Gossage was one the few who defended Schilling.
Schilling could have just enjoyed a free lunch from one end of America to another, but he like Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark and John Galt and Dagny Taggart, and like Dr. Michael Savage, refuse the easy way out. Take heed this lesson and take confidence that God waits and watches.
Steven Travers is a former screenwriter who has authored over 30 books including the upcoming Best Sports Writing Ever. He is a USC graduate and attorney with a PhD who taught at USC. He played professional baseball, served in the Army JAG corps in D.C., was in investment banking on Wall Street, worked in politics, lived in Europe, and was a sports agent before finding his calling as a writer. He has written for the San Francisco Examiner, L.A. Times, StreetZebra, Gentry magazine, and MichaelSavage.com. He lives in California and has one daughter, Elizabeth. He can be reached at USCSTEVE1@aol.com or on Twitter @STWRITES.