Curt Schilling talked too much. When he was serving as an ESPN analyst, it was problematic at times but you learned to deal with it because he had a certain ex-player rapport with John Kruk that made the Sunday Night Baseball crew work. It was a once-a-week foray into mad chatter that was often entertaining and often infuriating.
But there is a line of talking too much on social media when you’re a public figure and Schilling was not remotely close to toeing it. He almost dared ESPN to fire him and the network finally took him up on it last week, sending one of its once-prominent analysts packing for good. This was a hook the former big-league ace richly deserved.
It started last fall when Schilling was dumped from Little League World Series coverage for comparing Nazi sympathizers in Germany to the percentage of modern Muslim extremists. Then he was pulled from Sunday Night Baseball and postseason coverage after further discussing it with editors of the blog Awful Announcing.
It was at this point where Jessica Mendoza replaced Schilling and catapaulted up the ESPN ladder to where she now rightly stands as one of the network’s top analysts. With Mendoza in the booth, have we missed Schilling at all? Nope.
Schilling was going to be on the Monday night crew this year but simply couldn’t stop running afoul of himself – and his bosses – on Facebook and his Twitter feed, @Gehrig38.
The final straw was apparently last week when Schilling posted a meme on Facebook making crude references to public access to restroom facilities for the transgender community. His defense was that he didn’t create the post but only shared it. But he commented on the meme and then doubled down horribly with a long post on his personal blog on Wednesday.
Wrote Schilling: “Let’s make one thing clear right up front. If you get offended by ANYTHING in this post, that’s your fault, all yours. And for you people too dense to understand this one very important thing. My opinion, 100% mine, and only mine. I don’t represent anyone but myself here, on facebook, on twitter, anywhere.”
Sorry, Schill. You’re a public figure. You work for a very public company. The I-dont-represent-anyone-but-myself-here line doesn’t work. Whether you like it or not, you always represent your company on social media. That’s just how it is. But there was more. A lot more.
“I’m loud, I talk too much, I think I know more than I do, those and a billion other issues I know I have,” Schilling wrote. “Like everyone one of you I have flaws, but I’m ok with my flaws, they’re what make me, me. I thank the Lord for the life I’ve been given. A life interspersed and occupied by men and women who are gay, by people of all races and religions, by men and women who dress as the other, by men and women who’ve changed to women and men. Not one decision I’ve ever made about a person has anything to do with those things I just mentioned, nor will it ever.”
“You frauds out there ranting and screaming about my ‘opinions’ (even if it isn’t) and comments are screaming for ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ while you refuse to do and be either.”
There was more that doesn’t belong in a family newspaper but you get where this post headed. The fact of the matter is Schilling is a baseball analyst and moving into areas like this in a public forum is not something ESPN needed to be involved with.
Schilling was far too much a distraction to make it worthwhile for the network to keep him. Political correctness has gone too far in society these days and the gotcha mob is ready to pounce at any moment but Schilling made it far too easy for them. There are certain topics you just don’t touch when you’re in the public eye.
Like Schilling wrote, he simply talks too much and it was his biggest problem as a game analyst. And it was a problem behind the scenes that cost him his job.
Scully for Series?
Sports Illustrated media writer and University at Buffalo graduate Richard Deitsch is banging a drum that’s only going to get louder as the season goes on. This is Vin Scully’s final year behind the microphone for the Dodgers and the 88-year-old says he will do playoff games if his team qualifies.
But Deitsch is going one step further: He wants FOX to use Scully for at least one game during the World Series. You want a tribute? You want ratings? Guarantee it would be must-see TV. For his part, Scully has repeatedly said no to such ideas and for now at least it seems unlikely to happen.
Wrote Deitsch: “I understand Scully’s reticence to agree to something he might view as a stunt. But it would be the rare stunt benefiting millions of viewers.”
Would longtime FOX play-by-play man Joe Buck have a problem giving up his seat? No way. Deitsch asked him directly and this was Buck’s answer.
“I am my dad’s son,” Buck said, referring to his Hall of Fame father, Jack Buck. “I know what it means to have one of these voices walk away. As far as Vin is concerned, he is the best to ever do it. He’s kind of the last voice of this generation of play-by-play announcers that defined the craft. I would pay for the plane to bring him myself.
“As a kid growing up in St. Louis, I grew up on Game of the Week” on NBC. “I could not wait to hear what Vin and Joe Garagiola were going to say about the Cardinals when they came to town to do a game. That voice and stamp of authority was everything to me.”
Colabello ban a shocker
The Blue Jays’ biggest issue right now is their offense, and no one could have predicted that out of spring training. The middle of the order is going great guns again, with Josh Donaldson still at an MVP level and Jose Bautista off to a solid start. The rest of the lineup is a disaster, and that was before Chris Colabello’s shocking 80-game suspension Friday for use of a performance-enhancing subject.
Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Goins, Russell Martin and Colabello have combined to bat a measly .150 thus far. Colabello was just 2 for 29, his mind clearly distracted by the positive drug tests he learned about last month that were not revealed until late Friday afternoon after all appeals were exhausted.
Colabello had a terrific April last year for the Bisons, earning IL Player of the Month honors and a permanent callup to Toronto. He batted .321 for the Blue Jays and was the everyday first baseman through the postseason. After seven years of independent league ball, it was a terrific story. But now you have to wonder.
Colabello issued the requisite apology Friday, complete with the I don’t why or how the substance got into his system. Not very believable when you consider he was nailed for a mostly black-market steroid, Oral Turinabol, known for its use among East German athletes in the 1970s and 80s.
He’ll head to Dunedin and can go on a rehab assignment, likely in July with the Bisons, when his suspension hits the 70-game mark. But he’s ineligible for the postseason if the Blue Jays get there by terms of his suspension and his career itself could be in question. A sad tale for sure.
Net results for safety
This corner checked out the new nets protecting spectators behind the dugouts at Coca-Cola Field last week and they get two thumbs up. They’re complete game-changers for both families with children and senior citizens who want more of an up-close view of the action.
The view directly behind the third-base dugout with a left-handed hitter at the plate, and behind the first-base dugout with a righty batting has long been fraught with danger of an incoming screamer. Not any more. The net is very unobtrusive, actually thinner than the one directly behind the plate. I’m sure it would become even less noticeable to the eye the more you sat in the spots.
The net telescopes down toward the end of the dugouts farthest from the plate. The Bisons, like many minor-league teams, are following the recommendations of Commissioner Rob Manfred for the nets in the wake of the near-fatality last season at Fenway Park. During the Herd’s season-opening four-game homestand, several balls went into the net and one Pawtucket player lost a bat into it that would have otherwise cartwheeled into the stands. It’s a major addition for fan safety.
Around the horn
• The Boston Globe floated its first real how-long-does-John-Farrell-have story on Thursday after an ugly 12-8 loss to Tampa Bay that featured David Price’s eight-run meltdown. The heat will be on Farrell if the Sox continue to struggle, especially since bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Torey Lovullo is waiting his turn – and has a lot of support from club execs, media and fans for the job he did in the final few weeks last season after Farrell left to undergo cancer treatments.
• Longtime beat writer George King in the New York Post on the Yankees’ rough week at the plate: “It adds up to an odor that makes horse manure smell like Paris in the spring.”
• In the wake of their 16-0 win during Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter in Cincinnati, the Cubs went into the weekend with a stunning plus-60 run differential in their first 16 games. Want some comparisons? The Cardinals were next at plus-31 while the Nationals were plus-27. The Orioles had the best rating in the American League – at plus-16.
• No way to anticipate the Astros going into the weekend at 5-11 and tied for the worst record in the AL. Sports Illustrated jinx aside, the magazine’s prediction of the Astros as World Series champions was far from outrageous. But no one could have forecast an AL-worst 4.99 ERA that includes three starters of 5.90 or above and returning Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel at 3.71.