By Mark Lawrence, International Editor
Sydney, Australia. I suppose a reasonable proportion of Red Sox Nation has a curious kind of relationship with Curtis Montague Schilling. On one hand, we venerate him for the courage and determination he embodied on the mound, especially when he was bleeding for us - and on the other hand, well...awww, jeez, Schill, whyncha just shuddup already??!!
I'm talking, of course, about ESPN's decision to terminate Schilling's contract. A lot of folks are asking why it took them so long, given the big blonde hurler's propensity for social media uproar and I have to admit the news didn't come as any real surprise to me, either. Just the other day, this very website posted a link to Schill's praiseworthy anti-chaw PSA - and we all thought that was a good thing - then today ESPN lowers the boom and the needle swings all the way to the bottom stop.
As this new controversy envelopes Schilling, I feel compelled to ask - how will all these addle-pated utterings and righty mighty we-doan-cotton-to-that-kinda-thang-round-heah stuff affect the sportswriters who cast those Hall of Fame votes? Oh sure, everyone knows that HoF votes are based strictly on a guy's performance on the field, not off it. And everyone knows that that assertion is best filed under B and S. The sad fact is that Schill's Hall of Fame chances are being eroded every time he opens that fat mouth of his and he's gotta know it. If he doesn't, then someone near and dear needs to clue him in, but fast.
Compare and contrast Schill's embarrassing post-retirement performance with that of another great Red Sox who recently hung it up - the Cap'n, Jason Varitek. Tek has been nothing short of grace personified since his retirement and has kept his dignity in one piece by not spouting opinions on pretty much anything at all. And in doing so, he has kept our respect - and that of the writers - completely intact. Curt Schilling has not. And that's very sad to this writer. Like a lot of us, I saw the bloody sock in Cooperstown way back when - and that might just be all I'll ever get to see of Curt Schilling's erstwhile impressive baseball legacy. And that would be a real shame.