Poll: Is Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer?

Poll: Is Curt Schilling a Hall of Famer?

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The 2013 Baseball Writers’ Hall of Fame ballot was released
on Wednesday, and among the first-year candidates making their debut, the most
prevalent player to do a stretch with the Phillies would be none other than
Curt Schilling.

Schilling spent parts of 20 seasons in the big leagues, nine
of those with Philadelphia, though he’s more famous now for stints in Arizona
and Boston, stops where he accumulated three rings along the way. A six-time
All Star, Schilling twice led the league in strikeouts and wins, and was named
World Series MVP for the Diamondbacks in ’01. While he never won the Cy Young
Award, he finished as the runner-up three times.

Of course, the Hall is about more than accolades to a
certain extent, but also one’s place in history. Schilling was one of the most
dominant power pitchers in baseball for the better part of a decade. Once he
started coming into his own with the Phils, Schilling became an efficient
workhorse, piling up innings and finishing games. He seldom walked batters, but
fanned many, finishing 15th all-time with 3,116 strikeouts. His K/BB
ratio is second-best in Major League history at 4.38.

Whether Schilling has the raw numbers however will likely be
at the heart of the debate. At 216 wins, he falls far short of the 300 mark,
but the game has changed in many respects, and the days of the 300-game winner
are probably over. However, what’s notable is every pitcher to reach 3,000
strikeouts who has already been eligible for the Hall is enshrined.

Finally, Schilling made his mark in the postseason,
especially later in his career. He posted an 11-2 record with a 2.23 ERA in 19
playoff starts, was the NLCS MVP for the Phillies in ’93, and then there is the
notorious “bloody sock” game for the Red Sox in ’04.

We realize it’s a touchy subject to some. A floundering
Phillies organization traded a then-32-year-old Schilling midway through the
2000 season for Vincente Padilla, Travis Lee, Omar Daal, and Nelson Figueroa –
not exactly some great haul. Plus, the dude is kind of annoying, which is
probably putting it mildly.

Schilling is definitely in the conversation though. Maybe he’s
not a first-ballot guy – after all, there is some stiff competition this year
names like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds on the list – but he has a shot,
especially with some stars blanketed in controversy.

We leave it to you, the reader. Should Schilling get in this
year, eventually, or not at all?

>> 2013 BBWAA Candidates [National Baseball Hall of
Fame]
>> Curt Schilling Statistics and History [Baseball-Reference]

Sixers merchandise sales on the rise along with win total

Sixers merchandise sales on the rise along with win total

Between recent wins and Joel Embiid’s All-Star push, fans are buying their Sixers gear.

According to Fanatics.com, a sports apparel website partnered with the four major sports, the Sixers rank fourth among all NBA teams in total merchandise sales over the past seven days. The Warriors, Cavaliers and Bulls are ahead of them.

Joel Embiid was the fifth-best selling player over that period. His popularity has risen during his enthusiastic All-Star campaign, which included celebrity shoutouts and an outpour of social media activity. Embiid is now up to 553,000 Twitter followers.

The Sixers have ranked in the league’s top 10 of merchandise sales since the beginning of the 2016-17 season. They hold the largest year-over-year increase during that time frame in the NBA this season.

In September, Ben Simmons ranked in the top 10 of NBA players in merchandise sales since draft night.

Sales from the Sixers' and NBA's official online stores are included in these statistics.

Sixers clicking just in time to face surging Raptors on Wednesday

Sixers clicking just in time to face surging Raptors on Wednesday

The Sixers are clicking just in time to face their toughest competition in over a month. The Raptors (28-13) come to Philadelphia as the Sixers have won six of their last eight games by holding one another accountable and taking each outing step-by-step.

“You feel like the group is coming together,” Brett Brown said. “You feel like all the work that we have put in is starting to pay dividends in relation to a solid foundation.”

The Raptors sit second in the Eastern Conference, just one and a half games behind the Cavaliers. The last time they met, the Raptors beat the Sixers 123-114 on Dec. 14 at the Wells Fargo Center.

A lot has changed since then, especially the rotations. Brown started Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor together against the Raptors, an experiment that waned out after six games. The Sixers have found a formula to winning with an established starting lineup and a consistent second unit, with the added experience of Gerald Henderson and Nerlens Noel. They will be tested Wednesday as both Joel Embiid (illness) and T.J. McConnell (wrist) are questionable.

“When you look at this team, it’s a lot of talent but we didn’t play as a team,” Ilyasova said of the start of the season. “Now we come together. I think it’s all about the chemistry, we trust each other.”

The Sixers are looking to carry over the momentum of a 113-104 victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee on Monday. They got a test of All-Star caliber talent against Giannis Antetokounmpo, whom they held to two points in the second half. The Sixers will have their hands full with the backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry (22.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.2 assists) and DeMar DeRozan (28.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists).

One key to countering talent like that placing an importance on accountability. The players are not letting each other off the hook for mistakes on the court, regardless of who the opponent is.

“I could see it over the past couple weeks, guys coming out here and being more vocal on both ends of the court,” Noel said. “If one guy messes up, you’ve got to let him know so it won’t be a recurring thing. With that, guys are taking steps in the right direction, both leadership roles because everybody on this team can be a leader in their own way.”

The Raptors come in on a four-game winning streak.