Schilling dealing with major shoulder issues

Talk about a story coming out of nowhere. A report today in the Boston Herald notes that Curt Schilling has some shoulder issues. It could be as bad as a torn rotator cuff and/or labrum. Surgery, they say, will take him out for the year.

Schilling underwent a physical before signing his one-year, $8 million contract, so either they missed it, or it’s something that has developed since then. The Red Sox, much to Schilling’s chagrin, have looked into voiding the agreement.

To sum up: Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.


Defending the sportswriters from a rabid Schilling

Let’s forget for a few minutes that Curt Schilling is on the Red Sox, and let’s forget his stupid “mystique and aura” comments from 2001. Let’s instead just consider Curt Schilling to be a baseball player with strong opinions who shares those opinions on his blog. Maybe this way, we can have as unbiased a discussion about Curt as is possible on a Yankee blog.

Last week, when the Baseball Writers Association of American first instituted the Curt Schilling Rule which bans players from awards consideration if their contracts feature incentive clauses, I applauded this move. The members of the BBWAA are hardly the least biased folks in the room, and I can’t really blame them. Eight months of traveling with a team and interacting with players on a daily basis will inevitably lead to some soft feelings toward some of the players.

While the BBWAA has disappointingly tabled their resolution pending discussion with MLB and the Players Association, the man for whom the proposal was named — Mr. 38 Pitches himself — was none too happy. In a rather personal and often rambling blog post, Schilling lays into the BBWAA for many of the inconsistencies that bloggers have long noted about their voting patterns. He rails on voters omitting pitchers from MVP ballots or Hall of Fame ballots for petty reasons some years only to include them in others. He wonders why traditional print writers are any more or less qualified to vote than the writers like Buster Olney, Jayson Stark, Rob Neyer and Ken Rosenthal, to name a few, who make their living online.

All in all, Schilling makes some very valid points. But as is often the case with Curt Schilling, there’s rather big but (and it’s not his. Zing!). Schilling takes a very strong exception to BBWAA Secretary Jack O’Connell’s statement. “But the attachment of a bonus to these awards creates a perception that we’re trying to make these guys rich,” O’Connell said. Schilling starts out hot and goes from there:

Give me a break. Don’t get me wrong, 100k, 500k, 1 million dollars is a huge sum of money. But to think that these guys ever approached this as anything other than them being touted as the ‘experts’ on who wins what is crap. Add to that I seriously doubt anyone ever looked at this from a perception standpoint and thought wow, they are making this guy rich. I would disagree.

Curt Schilling may disagree, but let’s look at this from a journalistic standpoint. Curt Schilling’s new contract includes a clause where he needs to draw just one third-place vote to kick in a $1 million bonus. Do you know how many Cy Young Awards have depended upon those third-place votes? I’m leaning toward none.

So what’s from stopping one of Curt’s friends from tossing a throw-away third-place vote his way? Every voter fills out a 1-2-3 ballot, and if Curt ends up with one meager vote, the $1 million is his. That reeks of unethical journalistic behavior right there.

Schilling, in my opinion, has it wrong. This move by the BBWAA isn’t one of their efforts to steal the thunder from the players; it’s an effort to make sure that all of their voting members are following the guidelines of their profession. It’s a sad commentary on the state of journalism than such a move by the BBWAA is necessary, but it isn’t an attempt, as Schilling would have us believe, by the journalists to upstage the players.

In the end, Curt says it best himself. “It only takes 1-2 guys to screw it up and those guys exist in decent numbers,” he writes. The same holds true on the other end as well. In this case, it only takes one guy to kick back a million bucks, and any effort to end that practice should be applauded.

BBWAA institutes Schilling Rule

When Curt Schilling signed his recent one-year deal for 2008, one clause in particular garnered some attention. The Red Sox have to pay Schilling $1 million if he earns so much as one third-place Cy Young vote. With the cozy relationship between writers and players these days, more than a few writers were dismayed by this contract provision.

So today, in an effort to restore some semblance of objectivity in awards voting, the Baseball Writers Associate of America announced today that, starting in 2013, players with incentive clauses will be automatically disqualified from award voting. This ban covers regular season awards only and will not affect a player’s Hall of Fame chances.

“When we first started giving out these awards it was just to honor somebody. You got a trophy, there was no monetary reward that went with it,” BBWAA Secretary-Treasurer Jack O’Connell said to the Associated Press. “I honestly don’t think people vote with that in mind. But the attachment of a bonus to these awards creates a perception that we’re trying to make these guys rich.”

O’Connell specifically targeted Curt Schilling’s response to his incentive clause as one of the driving forces behind this ban. The Red Sox’s pitched made an off-hand comment about a kickback for a potential voter, and the red flags went up immediately. “The Schilling thing is disturbing because he doesn’t even have to win,” O’Connell said. “That’s something that none of us finds very funny.”

The rule won’t go into effect until 2013 so that players, agents and teams can adapt to it. Personally, I find that to be a rather flimsy excuse. While few players are under contract for 2013, why can’t the BBWAA just grandfather in the rule for next season? Anyone with incentive clauses in pre-existing contracts can still enjoy those benefits, but anyone negotiated a contract following the conclusion of the 2008 season is automatically ineligible. I can’t imagine it will take all that long to get used to this new rule.

Meanwhile, this is a clear-cut victory for those of us who have grown wary of the give-and-take between sportswriters and their subjects. I can’t imagine that the Players’ Association is too thrilled with this one, but as far as I can tell, they have no remedies.

Francona to Schilling: ‘Shut up’

With David Ortiz and Curt Schilling opining about steroids – always a loaded topic among MLB clubhouses – Terry Francona, the esteemed manager of the Red Sox, has ordered his star players to shut up. I, for one, am very jealous of Francona as I too have longed to tell Curt Schilling to stick a bloody sock in it. This ranks up there among Terry Francona’s best moves as Red Sox manager.