WHAT THE HALL?
Despite 216 wins, 3,116 strikeouts, a 1.137 WHIP and an 11--2 postseason record, the 48-year-old righty received Hall of Fame votes on just 39.2% of ballots. As you'd expect, he has strong feelings on the subject.
DAN PATRICK:You said John Smoltz being a Democrat helped him get into the Hall of Fame. But he's a Republican. So you were joking?
CURT SCHILLING: If you heard me on [ESPN's] Baseball Tonight, where this all originated, the amount of laughter around the commentary was enough to make sure everybody understood it was a joke. John Smoltz is as conservative a Republican as I've ever been. There's not a planet in the galaxy where I would disrespect the guys in the Hall of Fame ever.
DP:So you weren't serious that people won't vote for you because of your views?
CS: I think there's bias. But all the guys I know who have a ballot, whether they vote for me or not, put an immense amount of time and effort and thought into it.
DP:So why aren't you in the Hall?
CS: Maybe I don't belong.
DP:No, you're a Hall of Famer.
CS: [With the] Hall of Fame, you're either in or you're out. I was always the most critical guy of my own ability.... If I had my own Hall of Fame, I wouldn't be in it.
DP:Should Roger Clemens get in?
CS: He cheated.
CS: I think when Barry started cheating, he was already the best player in the game. If his career had ended then, he would probably be in.
DP:What about Mike Piazza?
CS: Piazza was never named in anything, and you're talking about the greatest hitting catcher in history. He should be a 105% guy based on what we know. Jeff Bagwell was one of the top five first basemen of all time. I played with Jeff. I'd be devastated if he cheated. He had monster power as a young player. I watched him work. No one put more time in the weight room.
DP:How about A-Rod?
CS: Oh, God, no. I think there's a belief that what he did, he did his entire career.
DP:Did it ever bother you facing a guy you knew was on something?
CS: Not at all. I gave up a home run to Barry in Bank One. It literally looked like a bullet Ping-Ponging inside a metal house as it ricocheted off the restaurant in centerfield, which was like 13,000 feet from home plate. I thought, Oh, my God, that's not human.
DP:Maybe it would help your Hall of Fame case if you just finally admitted the bloody sock was a fake.
CS:[Laughs.] I had a deal with Heinz. No, if it was doctored, I wouldn't have had so many stitches.
Fox officiating expert Mike Pereira reiterated that the refs were right to overturn Dez Bryant's catch against the Packers—but he wishes the NFL would change the rule. "[If] 50 drunk guys in a bar think it's a catch," Pereira told me, "the rules should be somewhat aligned to that." ... Kurt Warner, named one of 15 Hall of Fame finalists, said the NFL's offensive explosion has made it hard to judge candidates: "If someone has 20,000 more yards than another guy, how do you compare [them]? Especially if you weren't there to take in what they meant to the NFL." ... NBC analyst Tony Dungy weighed in on whether his former QB Peyton Manning will return for an 18th season after his lackluster performance against the Colts. "My guess is he's going to come back," Dungy said. "I don't think he wants to finish with a game like that."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
JARED WICKERHAM/GETTY IMAGES (SCHILLING)
RAY MICKSHAW/FOX/AP (PEREIRA)
FRAZER HARRISON/GETTY IMAGES (WARNER)
LM OTERO/AP (DUNGY)