A fond send-off from an almost-Yankee

RAB on The Shore Sports Report
Open Thread: Ceremonies for Bob and George

As the celebrity memorials about George Steinbrenner have appeared, we haven’t linked to them simply because they’re too numerous to count. Everyone deserves to have his or her voice heard, and the Boss had a direct impact on thousands of people’s lives. There is one, however, from an unlikely source that I believe warrants some attention.

Over at ESPN Boston, Curt Schilling, almost a Yankee once and always a hated enemy of Yankee fans, penned a moving tribute to George Steinbrenner. The Boss, Curt said, was one of the people in baseball he most respected. George was, writes Schilling, responsible for baseball’s economic strides. He revitalized the game, he revitalized the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

A certain passage from the piece leaped out at me:

After we beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, he stopped me outside the media room in the tunnel under the stadium. Here he was, I knew he was crushed, but even so he went to great lengths to talk to me and say things I’d forever remember and cherish.

Mr. Steinbrenner was the No. 1 reason I wanted to initially go to the Yankees when I learned the Diamondbacks wanted to move my contract. I loved playing for Mr. Colangelo and I saw Mr. Steinbrenner as an older, more passionate version of him. As a player, what more could you ask from the owner of your team? He did everything in his power, and sometimes things outside his control, to take care of his players and his fans, and made no qualms about who he had to bull over to do it.

So many people looked to him and the Yankees organization as being a big contributor to the unbalanced financial playing field in baseball. I say baloney. If every owner poured the percentage of his resources into their teams as Mr. Steinbrenner did, there would be far more happy fans in many more cities.

As Schilling readily admits, he and George had personality traits in common. They were both loud, brash and overbearing, and they both had a very strong desire to win. In fact, it was George’s ability to grate on people that had the Diamondbacks asking for Alfonso Soriano and Nick Johnson from the Yanks while they settled for much less from the Red Sox.

A few months ago, I wrote a piece on the almost-trade of Schilling and posited that he was almost a Yankee and almost a Yankee fan. I still get the sense reading his words about the Boss that Curt cheers on the Bronx Bombers even as he embraces Red Sox Nation. He respects the team; he respects the pinstripes; and he admired the Boss just as so many others did.

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RAB on The Shore Sports Report
Open Thread: Ceremonies for Bob and George
  • John

    You really have that sense, even though Schilling said in ’04 there’s “nothing better than shutting up New Yorkers?”

    • I Voted for Kodos

      If he had come to the Yankees, I think he would have simply reversed his statement and talked of shutting up Bostonians. I think he would have fully embraced being in NY and Yankee fans’ opinions of him would be very, very different.

      • http://soxandpinstripes.net Angelo

        Agreed.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          And had he come to the Yankees, I bet we Yankee fans would have embraced his asshattery and megalomania, or at least tolerated it humorously.

          Nobody likes a douchebag, but there’s a huge difference between being “our douchebag” and “their douchebag”.

          • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch aka Master of the Obvious

            Except if its Roger Clemens. Never ever warmed to him.

      • Pasqua

        Yes, indeed. Being that Curt was such a “showman,” and was always looking for the red light of the camera, he was, by default, his team’s cheerleader and mouthpiece; the media captain.

  • STEVIS

    Shilling is and will always be a dick!!

    • http://soxandpinstripes.net Angelo

      I suppose. But if you read his article, it was very professional and a good read. So in this sense he was not the “dick” we know him to be.

  • Rose

    Curt Schilling’s favorite player of all time is Lou Gehrig (and he reflects that in his charitable contributions to ALS). I’m sure there’s a large portion of him that respects the Yankees as a whole.

    • Hobbes

      And the Yankees will respect him as a hole.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

    Thanks, Curt. I promise to not say anything mean about you for a full 24 hours in appreciation of your kind words.

  • LarryM, FL.

    The guy could pitch and came up big everytime I was looking for him to fail or at least have a so so day.

    • Curt Schilling

      And I was bleeding!

  • Mister Delaware

    I like to think Schilling had all of Steinbrenner’s bad traits but not his good. Because there’s really nothing good about Schilling.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      I love how in denial Yankee fans are about Schilling. They can’t get over the guy.

      • Mister Delaware

        Not denial over his talent (if anything he might be underrated), but man, that guy reset the bar for being a self-absorbed blowhard martyr douche. I was in school in Philadelphia during the last half of his tenure with the Phillies so the hatred started then and just grew and grew. He could give a family member a kidney and still be in the red.

        (Of course, if he did, he’d probably hold endless press conferences to talk about why the media is making too big of a deal of his giving a kidney to someone in need.)

        Also, this: http://38pitches.files.wordpre.....family.jpg

  • voIII

    It’s not surprising that Schilling would respect GMS… Every pro athlete in every sport owe’s George a debt of gratitude… He changed the game for all of them. They went from making 6 figures if they were superstars to making 8 figures…They should ALL kiss George’s coffin… As a Yankee fan, I can’t thank Mr. Steinbrenner enough for all the great memories…RIP George.