Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Good Riddance Curt Schilling

On the day that Curt Schilling says so long, a few reflections on the "character" of this great.

I willingly concede the glory of his bloody sock moment. It has everything that makes a legend - great performance, pushing through injury and a nice bit of memorabilia to prove that it happened.

It is also the pinnacle of a career that, without it, wouldn't even merit the mention of future Hall of Fame status. Even with it, no one should seriously consider Schilling Hall worthy, not with 216 wins. No way. But people love Curt and I always wondered why.

Schilling is a fantastic "me-first" guy posing as a team guy interested in the history of the game. His most memorable moments outside stained hosiery have all come at the bashing or embarrassing of teammates and colleagues.

1983 - The Phillies are improbable NL champs and make it to the World Series. Mitch Williams, the bullpen ace who was a key contributor to their run had, let's say, some difficulty with control in the Fall Classic. So there was Schilling, rooting on and supporting his fellow Phil, right? Wrong. Curt proceeds to draw all attention to himself, his nervousness, at the sight of "Wild Thing" on the mound, by hiding his head under a towel. The Phillies were pissed off at Curt for his behavior and lack of team feeling. Of course, Curt backtracked, but it was an image that remained with him. Jim Eisenreich, speaking over a decade later, still shook his head at how Schilling acted when the team needed him most.

Schilling, whose $8 million last year contract would have been impossible without the long work of the Players Association has long spoken against the union and individual players, particularly on the steroids issue. As to Bonds and McGwire, Curt, in a true anti-American way, suggested they were obviously guilty as they did not sue the Jose Canseco's of the world when charges were levelled against them. Guilty! Instead of protecting the privacy that was assured the players when they entered into drug testing, privacy which was violated when A-Rod's name was leaked, Schilling wanted all 104 names released to the public. A team player to the end. If trampling on the rights of his colleagues meant more air time for Schilling, that was a price he was willing to have them suffer.

So, see ya, Curt. You were a pretty good pitcher, with a few excellent years, and a couple of memorable moments. You made the Hall of Fame in your mind, coupling amazing pitching with stellar integrity. But the rest of us live out here, in the real world. Have a nice retirement.

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