Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Curt

Curt Schilling, the bloody-sock hero of the 2004 Red Sox, says he’s leaving Massachusetts for Tennessee, where he expects that people won’t be so mean to him. I’ve never been to Tennessee, but I hope people there aren’t as racist, transphobic and full of hate as Schilling has become over the years.

In 2017, Travis Waldron wrote an excellent in-depth piece for HuffPost on Schilling’s descent from apparently normal conservative in his playing days and the immediate aftermath into an all-purpose terrible person.

Yes, Curt Schilling should be in the Hall of Fame

Curt Schilling in better days. Photo (cc) 2007 by Andrew Malone.

We have a good discussion under way on Facebook about whether Curt Schilling should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I say yes, even though he’s devolved into a terrible human being who’s mocked trans people and joked about journalists being murdered in the years since his playing days ended.

The argument against Schilling, one of the great post-season clutch pitchers, is that the Hall of Fame has a character clause, and there’s no doubt that the Schilling of today is someone of exceedingly poor character. But the clause should pertain to how he conducted himself as a player. Schilling always respected the game, unlike cheaters such as Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Pete Rose. With Clemens, it wasn’t just steroids; it was also his adolescent meltdown in the 1990 playoffs. Clemens was thrown out, and the Red Sox lost the game and the series. Of course, that probably would have happened anyway given Clemens’ miserable record in big games.

Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal wrote a terrific piece the other day about the man Schilling used to be before becoming a deranged right-wing extremist. I was particularly struck by McAdam’s account of Schilling’s leadership in awarding full shares of the team’s 2004 World Series money to low-paid clubhouse attendants and the like. Here’s how McAdam put it:

After the fact, I was told that Schilling was behind the gesture. (For those suspicious that Schilling was the source of this information, he was not). He argued that for the players, the difference between a full share of, say, $300,000 and $250,000 was minuscule, relatively speaking. But by including more non-players in the distribution of full shares, they could impact the lives of so many who didn’t make seven- and eight-figure annual salaries.

Indeed, some bought houses, paid off mortgages or paid tuition bills with that money. And indirectly, they have Schilling to thank.

None of us knows what happened to Schilling. Obviously something went haywire along the way. In some respects his Hall of Fame credentials are borderline, and we can only imagine the unhinged speech he’d give at Cooperstown if he were actually inducted. But that shouldn’t enter into it. He deserves a plaque.

Hypocrites with their hands out

We’re all having enormous fun with the news that 38 Studios, the video-game company launched by Curt Schilling, is circling the drain after receiving some $75 million in guaranteed loans from the state of Rhode Island.

Schilling has never been shy about expressing his views as a small-government Republican. Old friend (you knew there had to be a Backscratching Day angle, didn’t you?) Steve Syre offers a particularly choice morsel in his Boston Globe column:

Schilling is a self-described conservative with a disdain for big government, which he considers intrusive and overbearing. He is a big believer in people helping themselves and solving their own problems.

A couple of lines from an old post on Schilling’s blog, 38 pitches, sums it up:

“If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.

“A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.”

Entertaining though Schilling’s hypocrisy may be, that’s pretty small beans compared to the monumentally two-faced philosophy of Joe Ricketts, who may or may not be willing to fund a $10 million Super PAC campaign against President Obama centered largely around his controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Jim Rutenberg and Jeff Zeleny report in the New York Times that Ricketts appeared to be motivated “primarily by his belief that government spending is out of control and that Mr. Obama cannot be trusted to rein in the deficit and reduce the national debt.” Which is what makes this all the more delicious: the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, is seeking $300 million in taxpayer money from the city and state in order to renovate Wrigley Field.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former chief-of-staff to Obama, has been working hard to come up with $100 million in city money for the Cubs, according to Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business (thanks to Kurt Hartwig for the link).

And Jim Warren of the Daily Beast quotes an unnamed Emanuel aide as saying, “The mayor is pissed. Very pissed. Very, very pissed.”

The Cubs are run by Joe Ricketts’ son Tom, whom the Times describes as apolitical. But the Cubs are by all accounts a family affair, with Hinz calling Joe Ricketts the “patriarch of the Chicago Cubs’ owning family.”

As it turns out, Joe Ricketts has 300 million reasons not to throw the Wright stuff at Obama.

Photo (cc) by Chris Brown and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Why NECN didn’t carry Obama’s speech

I watched President Obama’s speech at Northeastern University online Sunday, so I didn’t realize until later that New England Cable News hadn’t carried it. I e-mailed NECN spokesman Skip Perham, and here is his response:

Over the life of the Obama administration we have consistently carried his policy speeches live.

We made the decision not to cover Martha Coakley’s rally featuring President Obama because it was a pure political event. We made the same decision about candidate Scott Brown’s event in Worcester.

If you take a look at NECN’s Sunday-afternoon schedule, you’ll see that it says “Paid Programming.”

Now, there’s an old cliché that elections have consequences. One of those consequences is that a speech by the president of the United States in your own back yard is by definition more newsworthy than a speech by Curt Schilling.

Was Obama’s speech purely political? Yes. But if NECN wants to amend its guidelines so that it will be able to carry all live speeches by the president within 10 miles of its headquarters, I don’t think station executives will have to inconvenience themselves more than once or twice a decade.

Assessing Curt Schilling

Nick Cafardo asks: Does Curt Schilling belong in the Hall of Fame?

But that’s shorthand. Here’s the real question: Does a guy whose career record makes him, at best, a borderline candidate for the Hall deserve to go in because of his extraordinary post-seasons?

I say yes. When Schilling had a chance to perform on baseball’s biggest stage, he came through. It’s a shame that Jim Rice, to name just one example, never had the same opportunity. But the point is to win it all, and Schilling’s been a key guy on three separate occasions.

Farewell, Curt

Curt Schilling announces that his career is over, or close to it, as he needs surgery on his ailing shoulder. He was the key to one championship and made a big contribution to another. His constant, occasionally self-serving patter wasn’t popular with everyone, but he strikes me as a pretty good guy who’ll do anything to win.

Even if he can come back, Schilling predicts that the rehab will be brutal, and that it probably wouldn’t make sense for him to start pitching before mid-2009. Which means that the Red Sox’ preferred strategy for this year — a strengthening program rather than immediate surgery — was the wise course of action, even though it didn’t work out. If he’d had surgery back in February, he’d have almost certainly missed the entire season.

Photo (cc) by guano, and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.