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If Schilling is finished, Cooperstown should be next

Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling appears to be heading for the door on his Major League career and assuming that's the case, his ticket should be punched to the Hall of Fame.

Over the course of a 20-year career, Schilling's win total (216-146) is a little on the low side and his ERA (3.46) is slightly on the high side but there certainly are Hall of Fame starting pitchers  with fewer victories and higher earned run averages, plus he worked when ERAs have been inching upward across the board. But his strikeouts (3,116) and post-season record (11-2) are spectacular.

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He has three seasons -- 22-6 in 2001, 23-7 in '02 and 21-6 in '04 -- that are hands-down HOF caliber on their own merit and they all came when he was over 33 years old.

Plus, Schilling may also get high marks in the overall picture because in an era when there is so much doubt about numbers being inflated because of performance enhancing drugs, Schilling has been the anti-steroids champion.  He was part of World Series winners in both leagues.  And on top of everything else, he has that element of romantic sports lore going for him -- the famous bloody sock.

Schilling has been on the shelf all season trying to rehab his right shoulder and now he needs surgery, which could end his career but hopefully, allows him to live without pain.  It's hard to predict how many ballots it'll take to get him elected to Cooperstown because of some of the stats and because he has rubbed some people the wrong way with his outspokenness.  Actually, I think the latter should be to his credit -- but I don't have a vote.

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