Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thanks, Curt!

After 20 Major League seasons, Curtis Montague Schilling has decided to retire from baseball. Even though his tenure with the Red Sox was only 4 seasons, his impact is unforgettable.

I remember watching the 2001 World Series where the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks were facing a dynasty in the New York Yankees. The Diamondbacks gave the Yankees all they could handle and other than the loathsome Byung-Hyun Kim choking away leads late in games, the Diamondbacks could have won the World Series earlier than they did.

Game Seven of the 2001 World Series pitted Yankee Roger Clemens against Curt Schilling. At the time, I thought to myself, "Why can't the Sox get a guy like this? You'd have to pry the baseball from Schilling's cold dead fingers to get him come out of a big game."

Two years later, Schilling came to the Red Sox in a laugher of a deal in which the Diamondbacks dealt him to the Red Sox for Brandon Lyon, Jorge de la Rosa, Michael Goss, and Casey Fossum.

Schilling came to Boston promising to end an 86 year drought and bring a World Series Championship. Boy, did he ever deliver on his promise! He brought two in his four years with the team. His performances in Game Six of the ALCS and Game Two of the World Series in 2004, are legendary. How did he pitch 7 innings on a very bad ankle in which his ankle tendon was stapled in place via surgery and allow only 1 run to lead the Sox over the Yankees to force Game Seven? Then, having the ankle tendon re-stapled five days later, he went 6 shut out innings to earn the victory in Game Two of the World Series. Amazing!

After missing a significant portion of the 2005 season, recovering from that bad ankle, Schilling
bounced back with a solid 2006 season. In 2007, Schilling missed some time on the DL with a bad shoulder. No longer the flamethrower of a few short seasons before, Schilling got by on guile and an 88 mph fastball to go 3-0 in the postseason in which he helped the Red Sox win their second World Series in 4 years. Schilling's 5 1/3 inning, 1 run effort in Game Two of the World Series, in which he earned the victory, was his last Major League game.

Now the two big questions are is he a Hall of Famer and if so, what hat will he wear into the Hall of Fame? Yes he is and he should wear a Red Sox hat. His regular season numbers are very good, but his postseason record indicates he's the best postseason pitcher of all time - 11-2, 2.23 ERA . He also was selected for the All Star game six times. When he does get in, despite winning a World Series with the Diamondbacks, he should wear a Red Sox hat because his impact in Boston is greater than it was on the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Astros, and Orioles.

In retirement, I'm sure we'll hear from Schilling, particularly on the radio. He would be a natural as a radio host because he's never shy to express an opinion. I particularly enjoyed his endorsement of George W. Bush for President in 2004, in liberal Massachusetts where John Kerry was the Democratic nominee. What was comical was he made so many Sox fans in the Northeast happy with their first World Series Championship in 86 years, then a few days later, ticked many of them off by endorsing Bush. Gotta love it.

So, thank you Curt for your immense contributions to the Boston Red Sox and being a key contributor to two World Series championships. You'll always be appreciated and cheered in Boston.

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