In a few weeks, David Ortiz will swing a bat for the final time in his big league career. It will be a sad day for Red Sox fans everywhere.
Big Papi is a 10-time All-Star, a three-time World Series champion and has 540 home runs on his resume. But is he, as a DH, a Hall of Famer?
Curt Schilling says yes.
“You can’t penalize the guy for the position,” Schilling said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “If David Ortiz wasn’t a DH, he would have played first base. I think it should be harder to get into the Hall of Fame, but here’s the thing that I find absolutely befuddling: You look at the Hall of Fame, and very few plaques have a defender’s fielding percentage. It’s all average, home runs and RBIs, which is what defines a DH. Offensive numbers are the keystone for everybody getting into the Hall of Fame, but suddenly we’re supposed to penalize the DH because he doesn’t play defense? I still believe Edgar Martinez is a legit first-ballot (Hall of Famer). I think he’s one of the best hitters I’ve ever seen. David, to me, is a first-ballot guy. Dale Murphy should have been as well. He was one of the best players of the 80s, not to mention probably one of the greatest human being I’ve ever known – and that, unfortunately, doesn’t count for a lot.”
In any event, Ortiz, 40, has led the Red Sox (92-66) to an AL East championship and could lead them to their fourth World Series of the last 13 years. If he does, it will almost certainly involve beating the Chicago Cubs (101-57), the best team in baseball.
Theo Epstein is working his magic in Chicago, just as he did in Boston. Is he just smarter than everybody else?
“Yes, he is – and he has been,” Schilling said. “A lot of it has to do with being stubborn. A lot of people don’t or won’t do things other people do because they want to be the ones that originated the idea. I played for guys who are general manager who, if you offered them Mike Trout for a bag of balls, they wouldn’t do it unless somebody knew it was their idea. People are like that. Theo, here’s the thing. The Red Sox made a lot of fatal mistakes from an ownership perspective, but getting him out of here was the biggest one. I thought the Cubs were the team to beat coming into the season. I believe the Chicago Cubs will be the New England Patriots of Major League Baseball for the next 15 years. As long as the Ricketts family allows Theo and baseball people to do the things they do and doesn’t interfere, you will not stop that franchise.”
Whether the Cubs crumble under the weight of expectations – they haven’t played in a World Series since 1945 or won one since 1908 – remains to be seen. But that wasn’t an issue for Schilling and the Sox in 2004, who ended an 86-year “curse” by winning the World Series.
“It wasn’t heavy at all because I didn’t buy into it,” Schilling said of the alleged voodoo. “What the Red Sox did in 1986 had absolutely nothing to do with the game I pitched in 2004. It had nothing to do with it. Now I know guys on the ’04 team who talked about the 2003 series with the Yankees and said, ‘I didn’t want the ball hit to me because I didn’t want to be the next Bill Buckner.’ You had to get past those guys. I don’t imagine there’s a lot of that given what I know about Joe Maddon. I think they’re far and away the team to beat. Not only can they hit, they’re going to run four starters out that can pitch. If you don’t have a swing-and-miss staff, you’re going to have a lot of trouble beating the Cubs and the Red Sox.”
As for the aforementioned Mike Trout, Schilling wouldn’t have a problem with the 25-year-old being named AL MVP – even though the Angels (72-87) are 22 games out of first place.
“That’s one of the reasons these awards are always a challenge,” Schilling said. “There’s so much personal bias in these awards. You just take it for what it is. Here’s the thing: Mike Trout, this is his fifth year. He’s going to be in the top five (in MVP voting) the first five years of his career. It’s mind-boggling to me. . . . I think he’ll end up being the best player we all see in our lifetimes.”