Jan
20

Almost a Yankee, almost a Yankee fan

By

These days, Curt Schilling is not quiet about his baseball fandom. Shunning Mystique and Aura, he spits in the faces of the Yankees — and most notably Alex Rodriguez — whenever he can, and he worships the insufferable altar of Theo Epstein. Don’t make the mistake of today confusing him for a Yankee fan or else the public reaction will be swift and merciless. Just ask Martha Coakley.

But Schilling, many in Massachusetts seem to forget, wasn’t always a Boston supporter. A product of Anchorage, Alaska, Schilling was drafted by the Red Sox and traded to Baltimore before making his Major League debut. Along the way, he picked up an appreciation for baseball history and grew to idolize Lou Gehrig so much that he named his son Gehrig. Love the history, hate the team? I don’t know about that.

These days, of course, Curt Schilling hates the Yankees. At his introductory press conference in 2003, he set the stage by proclaiming to a room full of Red Sox reporters, “I guess I hate the Yankees now.” I’ve heard of bandwagon fans, but Schilling must be one of the most prominent bandwagons haters. I guess.

For some illuminating material, let’s revisit the Schilling trade to the Red Sox. He was, after all, nearly a Yankee. I covered the tortured history of the Schilling deal last March when Curt announced his retirement from baseball. At the time, I wrote:

[In mid-November, Jack] Curry uncovers an early price tag: The Diamondbacks would swap Schilling and Junior Spivey for Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson. Today, that doesn’t seem like quite a high price, but five and a half years ago, it did to the Yankees. (Of note: Curry also reports for the first time that the Rangers would be open to trading Alex Rodriguez. It’s an early sign of things to come.)

By Friday, the Yankees had moved on to Javier Vazquez. The Yankees would not, according to Curry, “trade their two best young players for Schilling because they feel the monetary relief they would be giving Arizona eliminates the need for them to trade equal talent.” At that point, Schilling also expressed his desire to go to only the Yankees or the Phillies. Brian Cashman left the GM meetings with the team feeling insulted by the Diamondbacks’ offers.

That would, of course, be the end of it. The Yanks refused to budget; the Diamondbacks refused to budge. Despite Schilling’s public desire to play in New York, the two sides could not work out a deal, and when Theo Epstein turned on the Thanksgiving charm, the Boston/New York rivalry would never be the same.

There’s more to it than that. Jayson Stark spoke with Schilling about the trade rumors as they swirled, and Curt pushed for an East Coast return. “I can stay here and pitch the last year of my contract in Arizona, and then walk. Or I can talk about possibly getting a three-year extension to go to New York and have a chance to win a world championship. If those are my choices, why wouldn’t I at least agree to listen?” Schilling said.

Schilling added, “There are two teams the Diamondbacks know I’ll talk with if they try to make a trade with them. That’s the Yankees and Phillies. Other than that, there are no hidden factors, no hidden agendas.”

For two weeks, until Theo Epstein landed in Arizona for a Thanksgiving dinner, Curt Schilling lobbied hard to join the Yanks. As Stark wrote, Curt wanted to be Roger Clemens, and landing in the Bronx to replace the then-retired Rocket would have been his dream.

Up in Massachusetts, Martha Coakley lost an election a few days after calling Curt Schilling a Yankee fan. In 2010, we know she’s as wrong as wrong could be. Curt’s socks are a deep, dark shade of red. But she indirectly reminded us — Yankee fans and Red Sox fans both who are in denial over Curt’s backstory — that Schilling wasn’t always a Boston Booster. For three weeks in November and for years before that, he admired the Yankees and their storied history. Had he landed in the Bronx, he would have been as big a Yankee fan as anyone reading RAB today.

Just a friendly reminder: Please do your best to leave the political discussion, debate and flame wars to other sites. While Martha Coakley gets a mention here, it is in the context of baseball history. We’re not endorsing an outcome or a candidate in the now-completed Massachusetts Senate race. We’re just highlighting Curt Schilling’s tortured legacy of hoping on the right bandwagon at what, for him, was the right time.

Categories : Days of Yore
  • A.D.

    It seems as long as Schilling gets to hear himself talk, then he’s happy.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    I would rather have all that has happened happen (Sox win W.S., bloody sock, etc.) than have Curt Schilling a Yankees fan. The Sox can have that insufferable gas bag all to themselves for all eternity.

    • Yankeegirl49

      What he said^^^

    • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

      not me. i miss the old 1918 chants.

      • Master of all Trades

        You would rather see the Red Sox win a title then have Schilling be a Yankee fan?

    • Bo

      You’re nuts.

      I think I’d rather have Boston with no titles and us with 2 more. If your hate of one player makes you want to experience 2004 again you have a screw loose.

      • Guest

        I actually (for once) agree with Bo. If Schilling were a Yankee, he would be beloved. It’s fair to hate him, but it’s just as fair that he hates the Yankees. I think it’s cool that a player gets so attached to his team. It’s a rarity in today’s game that players take on such a passionate interest in the team they played for.

        As much as I hate Schilling, he has this right, and he’s better off for it.

  • pete c.

    Just to further the hypocrisy that is Schilling.
    My doctor who also is a big Yankee fan, told me way back when the Yanks signed Giambi, that athletes who take steroids will have these exotic injuries that nobody gets, unless they use ped’s. I spoke with him a couple of years later about it, and he asked me if I had ever heard of anyone rupturing a tendon sheath? I never had and he said it’s a rare occurance and it usually happens when someone’s doing something he shouldn’t do.
    So in closing, and at this point it can’t be proven, but does anyone think maybe king kurt coulda been on the needle too.

    • Steve H

      Absolutely it’s possible. He was middling along until he was 30, had a talk with Clemens of all people, then picked up a few MPH on his fastball and became a potential HOF. Certainly raises a red flag or 10. Before 30 his ERA+ was 113, after it was 134.

      • A.D.

        Eh, its pretty much the same start to his career as Cliff Lee

        • Steve H

          Yeah, I’m just saying Schilling isn’t above suspicion, and has stats that raise red flags in an era in which a ton of guys were using.

          • JGS

            There is nobody on this planet I would rather have outed as a steroid user than Curt Schilling

            • Steve H

              He’d be on my list, but I’d rather it be someone already in the Hall, so the BBWAA could look foolish. Though I’m a fan, I wouldn’t mind seeing Brady Anderson’s roommate and friend Cal Ripken, because that would blow everyones minds. Or Puckett, who I absolutely think was a juicer.

              • pat

                Ripken? No way man. I’d never want him outed for roids. That dude is a part of mlb history, he’s got a whole friggin baseball league named after him. I’d be happy with Jim Rice or Curt Schilling being outed.

              • JGS

                well, virtually all of them were on amphetamines which, while not quite anabolic steroids, are still performance-enhancing drugs.

                I think it was Bob Gibson who came out and said that he would have tried steroids had they been available to him. Heck, Pud Galvin openly consumed monkey testosterone. The BBWAA are already enormous hypocrites (not to mention their prominent role in enabling the users until it became passe to do so).

                • Bo

                  Would it shock anyone if anyone who played in the 70′s and 80′s were juicers? Look at all the football players who did it then. You dont think all athletes were doing it??

                • Steve H

                  Agreed, and they were. A teammate of Hank Aaron’s said that at least 5 pitchers, per team, were juicing. Not a stretch to assume that position players were using as well. Hank Aaron’s HR rates had a huge spike at the end of his career. Nobody is above suspicion.

        • Chris

          Not really.

          Cliff Lee’s improvements came because he improved his control and walked fewer batters (3.1 BB/9 6.7 K/9 through 2007, 1.5 BB/9 6.9 K/9 since).

          Schilling’s improvements came because he started striking batters out (2.6 BB/9 7.3 K/9 through his age 29 season, 1.8 BB/9 9.8 K/9 from 97-03, 1.4 BB/9 and 7.7 K/9 after). It’s somewhat odd that his K rate jumped so dramatically during the steroid era, then came back down immediately after penalties were instituted…

    • Mike HC

      The question to askduring that (this) era is, “who was (is) definitely clean,” not “who was dirty,” because that is almost too easy. Odds are great that Schilling was taking something, along with everyone else.

  • Zack

    Lies, lies, lies.

    Schilling was born a Red Sox, I delivered him myself.

    /Gammons

  • Klemy

    Every time something in the world happens now, you can be sure he’s blogging about it, especially if it’s bad for the Yankees. He never has anything good to say about NY now…I can’t stand him at all. It is kind of funny how he’s turned.

    Great article.

  • Steve H

    As much as I hate the guy, I think he belongs in the HOF. Just looking at his numbers, 1992 was pretty comical. Was in the bullpen until May 19th, and still had 10 CG’s (in 26 starts). Another example (like Johan and Nolan) who began as relievers for a few years before becoming starters. The Joba Rules before Joba, if you will.

  • jsbrendog

    he jumped right on the bangwagon

  • pete

    i don’t hate him because of his political views – i hate him because he thinks that anyone should give a crap about them

    • A.D.

      The best when he was angling for getting a senate seat himself…really Schilling, you thing you’re qualified.

      • Zack

        As Martin Sheen stated, “people mistake celebrity for credibility”

        • Steve H

          Of course not many politicians are credible to begin with either.

          • Zack

            that too

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals

          he would know :)

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    Shunning Mystique and Aura, he spits in the faces of the Yankees — and most notably Alex Rodriguez — whenever he can, and he worships the insufferable altar of Theo Epstein.

    Plus, Mystique was hot. HOT i say.

    i’m not in NYC…but I saw a clip of Rudy campaigning for Scott Brown…it seems like Brown was sort of a centrist, and Rudy is pretty right wing. And they were in BOSTON!

    Schilling (kook!), Brown (Centrist, Mass) and Rudy (Right Winger, NYC)…how did that fit together? from here it looks awfully odd!

    Plus, I hear Scott Brown’s campaign was faltering until he had a chat with Curt Schilling, and then he picked up a few percentage points. I’m just sayin…

    • Jersey

      Politics Enhancing Drugs?

  • Mike HC

    I have disliked Schilling since 2001. I’m happy he was never a Yankee. He is someone I truly enjoy disliking. There are not many true sports villains out there anymore. When there is a good one, like Schilling, best to avoid signing/trading for him.

    Although he would have obviously pitched great for the Yanks.

  • Bo

    You do realize that you can hate a team but respect and honor a player like Lou Gehrig right??

    And can we not kill a veteran for wanting to go to the Yankees? What team pays the most money? Theres a reason guys want to wear pinstripes.

    • Zack

      It’s not about him wanting to come to the Yankees. It’s about him publically declaring he ONLY wants to go to the Yankees or Phillies. Then when he was traded to the Red Sox he becomes Mr. Boston and Yankees suck. It’s about him being fake.

  • dc1874

    The purpose is to WIN!!! I can still remember how NY fans HATED..and I mean really HATED Reggie Jackson when he first joined the Yanks…and we see how that ended…

    • scoopemup

      I’m still hating!Reggie and Yoko, hate forever.

  • vin

    I just love reading old baseball articles. You get little nuggets like:

    “After most of the general managers were already into their first bag of airline peanuts, a trade did occur when the Minnesota Twins sent the All-Star catcher A. J. Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for the right-handed reliever Joe Nathan and two minor league pitchers. ”

    “One executive from another team said Cashman told him the Yankees were shifting their attention to other pitchers because of Arizona’s asking price for Schilling. Cashman could have been bluffing, but he then had substantive discussions with the Montreal Expos about Javier Vazquez, spoke with the Los Angeles Dodgers about Odalis Perez and met with Bartolo Colón’s agent, Mitch Frankel. ”The pitching side is an obvious need,” Cashman said.

    Cashman has had discussions with Randy and Alan Hendricks, Andy Pettitte’s agents, but he said, ”We’re on his clock” because Pettitte had asked the Yankees to let him test the free-agent market before they made an offer. Cashman said he had also spoken with Gary Sheffield’s agent, Rufus Williams, who said his client would love to play right field in the Bronx. ”I don’t know of any player who wouldn’t want to play in New York,” Williams said. ”The Yankees are certainly an option.”

    The Texas Rangers continued to investigate the possibility of trading Alex Rodriguez, who has $179 million left on his contract. Two general managers said that the only team Rodriguez might end up with is the Boston Red Sox, but that it would probably have to be a three-team deal because the Red Sox would need to trade shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. “

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    Martha Coakley is an idiot. If she wanted to win, she should have lobbied for the endorsement of the best Red Sock of the last ten years, Manny Ortez. Everybody in Boston loves that guy.

    Sincerely,
    John Kerry

    • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

      IETC.

  • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

    After reading this post, Benjamin Kabak clearly is a socialist.

    Too bad about Martha. Politics aside, it would have been wonderful just to hear the name “Martha Coakley” over and over in a Boston accent.

    “scott” is okay with the accent.

    But not better than “maathaa”.

  • Johnny

    I hope schilling picks up the clap from a tranny, who happens to have sold him steriods in the past. What a story!

  • NewYorker

    SCHILLING THE SHILL

    This article is perfect.

    It shows Schilling for what he is – a typical dishonest opportunist who craves the limelight.

    Thank god the Yankees didn’t want him – he would have set up his soap box in NYC.

    A-Rod is so much cooler than the Shill.

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