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Boston Baseball stuff

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
from NY Times

June 16, 2004


urt Schilling wheeled his black sport utility vehicle out of the cramped players parking lot at Fenway Park, and several dozen fans perched behind barricades screamed to him. Schilling's name morphed from two syllables into one jumbled screech, something that sounded like Schhiiiinnnggg.

Schilling powered the Boston Red Sox past the San Diego Padres Thursday night, providing more evidence that he is now their ace and causing the fans to pulsate. With police approval, Schilling went the wrong way on Yawkey Way, motored ahead, and made a right onto Boylston Street.

"There's a history of misery here that they want to get rid of so bad," Schilling said. "They want to win. They want to win a world championship. You can feel it. You can feel it when you take the ball and walk on the field. I think it's a huge plus. For me it is, anyway."

The script of Mr. Schilling goes to Boston has unfolded neatly. Passionate player lobbies to be traded to passionate city. Passionate player embraces the intense rivalry between his team and the Yankees. Passionate player ingratiates himself to fans by frequenting their online chat rooms. Passionate player feels good about what he has done and where he is, feels he belongs.

"It's almost like a family atmosphere here," said Schilling, who was drafted by the Red Sox in 1986, but never pitched for them before being traded two years later. "You're part of this group. At dinner, they're talking about you. At work, they're talking about you. You're a big part of their lives. These people have got Red Sox on the brain 24-7."

Make that 365-52-24-7, which means fans will talk about Schilling's ankle over coffee this morning, between meetings this afternoon and before he starts against the Colorado Rockies tonight. Nomar Garciaparra missed 57 games with an Achilles' tendon problem, and Manager Terry Francona said it created angst for "half of New England." Now Schilling's ankle is the newest concern for half of New England.

The 37-year-old Schilling has been pitching with a bruised ankle joint, which he said affects him when he pushes off the rubber to throw fastballs. That means it has an impact on him most of the time he is on the mound.

The injury became especially worrisome to the Red Sox when they learned that it worsened between Schilling's first and second magnetic resonance imaging tests. Schilling, who has been receiving injections of a painkiller before starts, will have another M.R.I. tomorrow.

Dr. Bill Morgan, the medical director for the Red Sox, told reporters on Saturday that if the ankle got worse, the team would have to "shut it down and rest it." Morgan estimated that Schilling would miss two to four weeks in that case, an unappealing thought for the Red Sox because he has been their premier pitcher. He has an 8-3 record, a 3.03 earned run average and 81 strikeouts in 92 innings. By comparison, Pedro Martínez is 7-3 with a 3.77 E.R.A.

"We've had to suck it up with the ankle and we'll continue to have to," said Schilling, before Morgan's ominous update. "The doc has been able to take care of it."

But Morgan does not want Schilling to continue to rely on a painkiller for the fear that it could disguise a weakening condition. If Schilling is placed on the disabled list, it would obviously annoy a ferocious competitor who has instantly snatched a spot in the adulation pantheon normally reserved for Garciaparra, Martínez and Manny Ramirez.

"He has a genuine passion for the game," Dave Wallace, the team's pitching coach, said. "Everyone recognizes that and appreciates it."

Catcher Jason Varitek added: "He's been the guy we expected him to be. A consistent guy to go with Petey."

Schilling is a ubiquitous presence. That is Schilling by the batting cage debating with fellow pitcher Derek Lowe. That is Schilling inviting teammates to join Ramirez and Martínez for a Dominican feast in the clubhouse, or showing up at a Boston Bruins game wearing a YH (Yankee-Hater) cap. That is Schilling in a humorous commercial for Dunkin' Donuts in which he diligently listens to a tape to hone his Boston accent. "Wicked hahd," Schilling intones, sounding as if he were born in Quincy.

Basically, Schilling is and believes he is still the biggest, smartest kid in the schoolyard after being traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks and signing a two-year, $25.5 million extension with Boston. He is so talented that people cannot help noticing him. But, just in case, Schilling, who is 171-120 in his career, will frequently do or say something extra to be noticed. He is a superb pitcher, a persistent talker and a politician of sorts.

"I've never been uncomfortable expressing my opinion to the media," Schilling said. "Whether my opinions are right or wrong is not really the point to me. You ask a question and I'll answer it and that's what makes you you. I've never had a problem with being criticized for my opinion."

Still, Schilling conceded that he had been bothered by criticism about his intentions. Randy Johnson has told baseball associates that he was not upset after Schilling, his pitching partner in a tandem that guided the Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series title, left. The Philadelphia Phillies, who were seeking a starting pitcher, never seriously pursued Schilling, the pitcher who had been with them for nine stellar seasons when he was made available by the Diamondbacks last year.

"There's been things that have been said about me in the past that are hurtful and surprising," said Schilling, who added that he'd been called "a lot of things that bother me because nothing could be farther from the truth."

Schilling immerses himself in the community where he plays, which is why he has meshed with fanatical Boston. He promised that he would donate $500,000 to the Jimmy Fund charity after he arrived. Schilling and his wife, Shonda, have also helped raise more than $4 million to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, in the last dozen years. They named their first child Gehrig. But Shonda Schilling said even her husband's charity work had sometimes been construed as an attempt at self-promotion.

"Who cares what anyone else has to say as long as he's producing on the field?" she said of the critics. "It took a long time to be able to say that. This is all for being a bigmouth, for having an opinion, for sticking by the opinion and for trying for the good."

That desire for the good included calling the police last month as he was returning to his home because he noticed an erratic driver. The police responded and arrested the driver. It was the man's fourth arrest for drunken driving.

"Two weeks ago, he called in a drunk driver and became a hero," Shonda said. "He seems to fall into good things."

Schilling acknowledged that he was obsessive compulsive, especially on the day he pitches. He wakes up in his suburban house, the home of the former New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe, at the same time, eats the same meal and wears the same clothes. The same routine, every five days, all season.

Before he leaves for the ballpark, Schilling exchanges secret handshakes with each of his four children and reads a poem that Shonda has written. Shonda Schilling called them "ridiculous superstitions," but added, "After 15 years and so many thousand strikeouts, I'm not going to buck the system."

She also said that her husband "was carrying a computer and people called him a nerd" long before laptops were commonplace. Now Schilling programs computers for teammates. He keeps thousands of pitches on file in a digital video library on his laptop and studies them to the point of being overprepared. He explained his growing relationship with the Red Sox fans simplistically.

"I expect to win," he said. "And they expect me to win."

The computer geek in Schilling gave those fans a surprise treat while he was negotiating with the Red Sox in November. Schilling logged on to the Sons of Sam Horn, a Web site for devoted Red Sox fans (Horn was a Red Sox prospect who had a modest stint in Boston from 1987 to 1989) and updated them on the discussions, unheard-of for a player.

Schilling has continued to chat with the fans this season, mostly after midnight, and might be the only major league player who voluntarily answers questions online. The entries from Gehrig38, the screen name he says he uses, are like his answers during interviews: strongly opinionated replies that flow in bursts.

"The Web site thing is because I love the game," Schilling said. "I don't have a problem with giving and taking with fans. It's personal, yet private."

When Varitek was asked if he could ever imagine conversing online with fans, he said: "I don't have time for that. I play every day. I've got kids. I've got stuff to do."

So does Schilling. He wants to win a Cy Young award. He wants to make it to the Hall of Fame. He wants to conquer the Yankees. Right now, he is consumed with helping the Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918, the ever-elusive goal that made this passionate place so attractive to the passionate player.

"I'm certainly not naïve enough to think it's just going to be me, but I have a chance to be a big part of it and that's important," Schilling said. "I like that responsibility. I like that set of expectations."
post #2 of 9
post #3 of 9
The curse will stand. How's that for early.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
earlier, to be sure.
post #5 of 9
Been living in Mass for over 20 years. Grew up in Jersey so I always rooted for the Yankees and Mets.

This spring Curt Schilling bought the house Drew Bledsoe had built in Medfield, same town I live in. So now, I figure it's kinda time to root for the home team and beginning this season I started rooting for the Red Sox to win the series. I guess now I'll learn the hard way what it's like to be a Boston sports fan.

By the way, I never could understand the whole "Yankee Sucks" thing. The Yankee's have what 20, 30 championships to thier name. Saying something like "I hate the Yankees" makes sense. Saying "Yankees Suck" just shows your ignorance because face it, they don't suck; like it or hate it they're the most successful team in the history of the game. On the other hand, the Red Sox haven't won a World Series in what 86 or 88 years. Saying "Red Sox Sucks", I guess that's just telling it like it is ... sigh.

post #6 of 9
Well, both the Yankees and the Sux got spanked by the "weak" NL West teams.

Yanks still up by 4.5.
post #7 of 9
Originally Posted by irul&ublo
Well, both the Yankees and the Sux got spanked by the "weak" NL West teams.
The NL West teams aren't weak....they're just underachievers.
post #8 of 9
Sox starting pitching is still struggling, but within a week or two the projected opening day lineup should be back and they may help with some offensive woes. Williamson looked good last night and thats a big plus for their bullpen.

Things are looking interesting in the AL East. The trading deadline could be what puts either team over the edge ... I'd like to see the Sox run at Garcia and not Beltran. You wonder how Contreras having his family in the states will impact his performance as well? Brown on the DL can't help things either.

Learn2Ski... hey from one Medfield-ite to another. Grew up there, moved away for college and a few years after and am moving back to town in a week.
post #9 of 9
Well welcome back. I grew up in Jersey but I've lived in MA for 20yrs or so. Bought a house in Medfield six years ago.

Did you know there used to be a ski lift at Rocky Woods? Check out the Lost Ski Areas of New England web site for info?

Me likes skiing bumps and trees 2.

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