So, Kurt Schilling announced his retirement on Monday, and a lot of people have been debating whether or not he is a valid Hall of Fame candidate. He has been compared favorably to Catfish Hunter who is in the Hall of Fame and has about the same amount of wins and losses - and also was on multiple World Series championship teams. Schilling, of course, has even better postseason numbers than Catfish, who went 9-6 in the playoffs over his career, while Schilling was 11-2. Coincidentally, both pitchers’ teams turned in incredible 10-2 postseason series records.
Schilling has also been compared to former Tigers great Jack Morris as well as Orel Hershiser, both of whom also had some legendary postseason success. Morris actually has almost 40 more wins than Schilling, and I'm not really sure why he isn't in the Hall of Fame, except for the fact that he was notably cantankerous and has a fairly high lifetime ERA of 3.90. However, Morris did pitch the majority of his career in the hitter friendly old Tiger Stadium. Hershiser only has 204 career wins, and although he had a phenomenal postseason in 1988 and a very good one for the Indians in 1995, you could argue that he cost the Indians the 1997 title with his terrible performance against the Marlins. But, I wouldn't object to him making the HOF - and he has had a nice poker career following his retirement from baseball. This has contributed to making him a fairly famous guy....
And this brings us around to my argument about who the Hall of Fame is for. I contend it's for the most famous ballplayers of their eras. Schilling, with the "Bloody Sock Game" alone, certainly qualifies based on that criteria. I mean it's not called the Hall of Great Players, although being a great players certainly can contribute to one's fame.
I think the growing army of stat-heads out there gets too caught up in the numbers and forgets what the Hall of Fame is all about. It's not a shrine aimed solely at the elite and knowledgeable fans of the game. I think it's supposed to be accessible to everyone - including the casual fan. And I really think that casual fan has more appreciation for what Curt Schilling has done than what Burt Blyleven did, for example.
If you follow these things, you know that Blyleven is the current darling of the numbers crowd. I'm not saying that Blyleven wasn't a great pitcher, but he's really not that famous. I even remember Pirates fans dissing him as "Cryleven" because of the way he acted back in the day. He is never recounted as a major factor in the Pirates winning the 1979 World Series and most people probably don't even know he was on that team. Schilling, on the other hand, everyone knows he was part of the Phillies in '94, the Diamondbacks that beat the Yankees, and of course, the Red Sox in 2004. He's famous and thus belongs in the Hall of Fame.
That's about all there is to it.