The Ballot: Mussina and Schilling
Pitching: 475 points
League leaders: 15 points (led league in wins, innings and FIP)
Defensive bonus: 20 points
A career of near-misses: 10 points (almost won 20 a bunch, almost threw a perfect game, etc.)
Moose nickname: 5 points
Hall of Fame Race to 400 points: 525
I've already written a lot about Mussina in the Baseball 100.
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Pitching: 500 points
League leaders: 45 points (led league in wins twice, strikeouts twice, innings twice, WHIP twice and FIP once)
Postseason bonus: 50 points (one of the best ever)
Never liked much as a teammate: minus-10 points
Post-career personality: minus-??? points
Hall of Fame Race to 400 points: 585, minus whatever you want to dock him for being, um, whatever the hell it is that he has become.
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As far as I'm concerned, both of these guys, purely as players, should have been no-doubt Hall of Famers. Both of them, in my view, have every bit the case that Roy Halladay has, and Halladay will (rightfully) be elected first-ballot this year. Both of them have at least as good a case as John Smoltz, who went in first-ballot. Both of them have as good a case as Tom Glavine, who did win 300 games and lasted longer, but wasn't a better pitcher than Mussina or Schilling.
But Mussina and Schilling each have a knock on them that the others didn't have.
Mussina has the aura problem. Because of those near-misses, because he played in the toughest division in such a high-scoring era, because he didn't win a Cy Young Award, because he had astonishingly bad timing (joined the Yankees one year after they won the World Series, retired one year before they won the World Series), he just didn't SEEM like a Hall of Famer when he played.
And Schilling has the big mouth problem (only 216 wins doesn't help, either).
In time, I suspect, knocks like these will fade. They've already faded for Mussina; he's polling at 81.6% on Ryan Thibodaux's Hall of Fame tracker. I would say that gives him a 50-50 shot of being elected this year -- it will likely be VERY close.
Last year, his final vote total was 6.5% less than the Tracker.
If you subtract that from 81.6%, yep, you're at 75.1. It's going to be SUPER close.
Anyway, if he doesn't get in this year, he will surely get in next year.
[caption id="attachment_23994" align="aligncenter" width="462"] Mussina and Schilling both have strong HOF cases; they also have knocks against them.[/caption]
Schilling has also gained some support and is up to 74.1% on the tracker. If last year's vote is any indication, he has no chance at all of getting elected this year, but he will probably end up in the 60s, which would be by far his best showing and a virtual guarantee of his eventual election. Once Mussina gets in, I suspect Schilling is next ... especially because there's not another viable Hall of Fame starting pitcher on the horizon.
One thing Schilling has to overcome is that nobody wants to give him a microphone to speak in Cooperstown. Nobody has any idea what he might say up there. On the one hand, he has a deep and long-standing reverence for the game -- he named his oldest son Gehrig -- and he might rise to the occasion.
On the other hand, well, you've seen his Twitter feed.
This isn't directly connected, but if I could start it all over -- the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, I mean -- I would do the weekend differently, I think. I wouldn't have players go up there and give extensive speeches; most of them are tedious, uncomfortably boring, particularly on a hot summer day in Cooperstown.
I would put together an awesome highlight package (they do some of this now). I would have two or three people give short, funny, touching talks about how great they were as players. Get the team's announcer, a former teammate or opponent, a famous fan, something like that. Make it 10-15 or so minutes of entertainment. Then the player goes up there, gets an Academy Award length amount of time to thank everyone, and that's the whole show. I think that would be better.