Tag Archives: Curse of the Bambino

Former Phillies Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling deserve Hall of Fame enshrinement

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Rolen was the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year with the Phillies

Just a little more than three weeks from now, on January 22, 2019, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the names of those voted in to the Class of 2019.

Based on publicly revealed ballots making up 1/3 of the total eligible voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, it appears certain that Mariano RiveraEdgar Martinez, and former Blue Jays and Phillies ace Roy Halladay will certainly make the cut.
It will be a close call for former Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees stud pitcher Mike Mussina. And a pair of players still be punished for their involvement with PEDs, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, are also receiving strong support but are likely to fall just short this time around.
Two players who will not get in this year, but who each deserve to be enshrined, are former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling and third baseman Scott Rolen.
Schilling was running at around 72.9% of the votes received and made publicly available by early on Saturday afternoon, January 29, 2018 as tabulated by Ryan Thibodaux. Rolen was at just 19.4% of those publicly announced votes. It takes a minimum of 75% support for a player to be elected for enshrinement.
Under the current voting rules, players must have completed participation in ten seasons in order to become eligible for consideration. The player must then have been formally retired from Major League Baseball for five full seasons. Players who pass away within that five-year period are eligible six months after their death.
If a player does not receive the 75% of the votes needed in order for election, they can remain on the Hall of Fame ballot for nine more years. However, if a player received less than 5% support in any voting year they are dropped from the ballot and will received no further consideration until a special committee process can evaluate them.
For Schilling, this marks his seventh year on the ballot. A year ago, he finished with 51.2% of the vote. That was up from 45% in 2017, and just 39.2% in 2015. This is just Rolen’s second year on the ballot after receiving 10.2% of the vote a year ago.

THE CASE FOR CURT

Schilling enjoyed a storied 20-year career in Major League Baseball. He began as a reliever with the Baltimore Orioles (1988-90) and Houston Astros (1991) before receiving his big break.
Just as the 1992 season was set to open, the Philadelphia Phillies obtained Schilling in trade from Houston in a straight-up deal for Jason Grimsley. Phillies skipper Jim Fregosi would insert him into the starting rotation in mid-May, and there he would stay.
Over nine seasons with the Phillies from 1992-2000, Schilling would go 101-78 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.120 WHIP. He allowed just 1,444 hits over 1,659.1 innings with 1,554 strikeouts across 242 appearances, 226 of those as a starter.
Schilling was an NL All-Star for three consecutive seasons from 1997-99 while with the Phillies. The big right-hander also finished fourth in the 1997 NL Cy Young Award voting after a season in which he won 17 games and led baseball with 319 strikeouts for a team that won just 68 games.
It was with the 1993 Phillies magical NL pennant-winning team that Schilling took the first steps in what became one of baseball’s all-time greatest careers as a postseason performer.
He was stellar in starting Games 1 and 5 of the Phillies upset of the Atlanta Braves in the National League Championship Series. He surrendered just three earned runs and 11 hits over 16 innings as the Phillies won both games. For those performances, Schilling was named the Most Valuable Player of the NLCS.
Then after a lackluster outing in Game 1 of the World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, Schilling kept the Phillies alive with a sparkling five-hit, complete game shutout in Game 5 of that Fall Classic.
Schilling would be dealt to Arizona at the 2000 non-waiver trade deadline. There he would be named the Most Valuable Player of the 2001 World Series in helping to lead the Diamondbacks to their lone world championship. He would also add two more NL All-Star teams and a pair of Cy Young runner-up finishes to his resumé while pitching in the desert.
Just prior to the Winter Meetings in November 2003, Schilling was traded again, this time to the Boston Red Sox. There he would finish as runner-up for the Cy Young Award for a third time.
He would help end the 86-year ‘Curse of the Bambino‘ as the Bosox won the 2004 World Series. Included in that run was the legendary ‘Bloody Sock’ performance in Game 6 of the ALCS comeback victory over the arch-rival New York Yankees. Then in his career finale, Schilling would again help Boston to another world championship in 2007.
Over his full career, Schilling put together a 216-146 record with a 3.46 ERA and 1.137 WHIP. He allowed 2,998 hits over 3,261 innings while striking out 3,116 batters across 569 appearances.
Schilling was a three-time World Series champion, six-time All-Star, three-time runner-up for the Cy Young Award, and received MVP votes in four seasons. He also won the 1995 Lou Gehrig Award.
For his fabulous 2001 performance he won not only that World Series MVP Award, but also was honored with the NL Babe Ruth Award, the Branch Rickey Award, and the Roberto Clemente Award. In both 2001 and 2002 he was named as The Sporting News NL Pitcher of the Year.
He led all of baseball in Innings Pitched on two occasions and won 20+ games three times. In 19197-98 with the Phillies he registered back-to-back seasons of 300+ strikeouts.
Take a look at those qualifications again. This is a no-doubt Hall of Famer who should be enshrined by now. Schilling, a political and social conservative, is likely being held back by controversial political and social commentary made public over the last handful of year.

SCOTT’S SHOT AT THE HALL

Rolen was the Phillies second round choice in the 1993 MLB Amateur Draft and made his big-league debut with the team in a 1996 season that was cut short by injury. On his full-season return in 1997, Rolen was named as the National League Rookie of the Year.
The following season, Rolen received National League Most Valuable Player votes for the first of what would be four times in his career. He also was honored with his first of eight career NL Gold Glove Awards at third base. For me, Rolen is third behind only Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt as a defender at the hot corner.
Over parts of seven seasons with the Phillies, Rolen slashed .282/.373/.504, slamming 150 homers and 207 doubles. He was traded away at the 2002 MLB non-waiver trade deadline to the Saint Louis Cardinals as part of a five-player deal in which the Phillies received Placido Polanco in return. Rolen won a 2002 NL Silver Slugger following that season.
With the Cardinals, Rolen made four consecutive NL All-Star appearances from 2003-06, won Gold Gloves in three of those four seasons, and helped lead Saint Louis to the World Series championship in 2006. He finished fourth in the 2004 NL MVP voting after a season in which he slammed 34 home runs and produced 124 RBI while hitting .314 with a .409 on-base percentage.
After a season-and-a-half with the Toronto Blue Jays, Rolen wrapped his career by playing four seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. He added on two more NL All-Star appearances and a final Gold Glove with the Reds, though most of those final four years were marred by injuries that robbed him of much of his power.
Over 17 seasons, Rolen finished with 2,077 hits and 316 home runs. He drove in 1,287 runs and scored 1,211 times. His career 70.2 WAR places him 67th all-time in Major League Baseball among position players. While WAR is not the be-all and end-all of baseball statistics, it has become accepted as an extremely reliable barometer of a player’s performance and value when compared to others.
That 70.2 mark puts him ahead of many Hall of Famers, including the likes of Gary CarterTim RainesTony GwynnEddie MurrayIvan RodriguezCarlton FiskRyne SandbergErnie BanksRoberto AlomarWillie McCoveyDave WinfieldAndre DawsonWillie StargellVladimir GuerreroJim RiceLou Brock, and many more.

WHEN MIGHT WE SEE THEM MAKE IT

The voting at this time a year from now should be extremely interesting. The only newcomer to the ballot for the Class of 2020 who is going to be elected is Derek Jeter. That’s a slam dunk.
Schilling will join Bonds and Clemens, possibly Mussina if he falls short again this time, and Larry Walker in his final year on the ballot as the other favorites for election. The following year, for the Class of 2021, all but Walker will again be under consideration with no newcomers to the ballot likely to make the cut.
Rolen is likely to take some time. He is the type of player whose career is going to come more into focus and be appreciated as each year of consideration rolls on. An extremely hopeful sign that the BBWAA will get it right eventually? Today’s public results show that 42.9% of first-time voters cast a ballot for him.
Schilling and Rolen were teammates for parts of five seasons from 1996-2000 with the Phillies. Those were losing seasons for the team, during which ownership was unwilling to lay out money to improve the product on the field as they lobbied for new ballpark to replace Veteran’s Stadium.
Both Schilling and Rolen were legitimate stars who went public with their dissatisfaction in playing for a team that was going nowhere. Those public proclamations didn’t always go over well with the Phillies fan base and were the primary reasons behind each of their departures.
Fact is, the two players were right. Phillies ownership was refusing to put money into the team. This doomed the two stars to years of losing baseball with little support. The Phillies went just 352-458 during those 1996-2000 seasons. It would all turn begin to turn around for the franchise over the next couple of years, but by then the two were gone.
Schilling was eventually honored with a place on the Phillies Wall of Fame. He was given that ultimate franchise honor during the summer of 2013. Rolen will hopefully join him on that wall during some future summer.
This year, I voted for both Schilling and Rolen in my IBWAA Hall of Fame ballot. I will certainly continue to vote for both players any year that they appear on that ballot.
I  firmly believe that sometime in the coming years both of these former Phillies and overall baseball greats will receive their day in the summer sun with a Baseball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony at Cooperstown, New York.

Phillies have found it tough to win at Fenway Park in recent years

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Fenway Park during Red Sox 4-1 series victory over Phillies in 1915 World Series

Major League Baseball has been doing this Inter-league stuff in the regular season for just over two decades now. The Phillies and American League’s Boston Red Sox will face off as a pair of first place teams over the next two nights at Fenway Park in Boston.

Fenway Park is particularly famous to opposing fans due to its huge left field wall. The “Green Monster” stands 37.2 feet tall and is just 310 feet from home plate. For the Phillies, it has been the stuff of nightmares.
The Phillies have visited Fenway Park on 10 separate occasions over the last 21 seasons prior to this one. Those visits have seen the two club square off in 28 regular season games in Boston. The Phillies have walked out a winner just nine times. That’s a miserable .321 winning percentage.
Things weren’t so bad in the early years of Inter-league play. The host Bosox swept the Phillies in the first-ever three game series at Fenway Park back in 1997.
But over the next seven seasons between 1998-2004, the Phillies captured six of the 11 games spanning four series. In one memorable game on June 9, 2001 the Phillies beat Boston’s Hall of Fame ace Pedro Martinez 5-2 behind the pitching of Omar Daal.
However, since the Red Sox ended their “Curse of the Bambino” by winning the 2004 World Series, things have not been good for the Phillies. The Red Sox swept a three-game series between the two clubs in 2006 and have gone 11-2 against the Phillies under the backdrop of their Green Monster over the last five series between the teams in Boston.
A year ago, the Red Sox pulled off a pair of dramatic walkoff victories against the Phillies at Fenway. That gives Boston five straight victories over the Phillies at Fenway Park entering tonight’s contest.
After losing three of four to the last-place Cincinnati Reds over this past weekend, the Phillies cannot afford to get swept in Boston. A loss tonight would make it four defeats in a row, something that the team has experienced just twice all season in pushing to the top of the NL East. They have yet to drop five in a row.
If the Phillies are going to come back home for their big Alumni Weekend still in first place, they are likely going to have to figure out a way to beat the Boston Red Sox in front of the Green Monster. That will be even tougher this year. Boston’s record of 74-33 is the best in baseball.