Wednesday, September 23, 2009

(Still Life with Grittiness): Part II

To sum up where we left off: Ahem, X 182.

Anywhere, where to next? Right, cheese fries...

'Never going to get it'

Schilling had an interesting career in that the Orioles and Astros both gave up on him. They saw him as too immature, too unwilling to do the work required to succeed in the big leagues.

Wow, that hurt. Shifting like that on your car will strip your gears. In Comp 101 they'll tell you it'll disorient your readers and make them grumpy. Unless you mean "You're never going to get it," to which I can only say, "yep, I'm lost. Thanks for checking on me, your helpless reader, adrift in a sea of meaningless blech."

And as for the O's and 'stros giving up on him, let's be honest: from '88 to '91, Schill stunk.

When the Orioles sent him back to the minor leagues in 1990, I said to manager Frank Robinson, "Maybe something will click, and he'll get it."

"That kid ain't never going to get it," Robinson said.

Dig it: I'm Richard Justice, omniscient forseer of the future. Maybe. I'm Miss Cleo like that (maybe). 'Cuz back in 1990 I said to big Frank "Maybe something will click." I also told him to sign Sam Horn, maybe, and to bet the farm on Tyson (maybe) knocking out Buster Douglas, too. It's been 19 years since Frank has spoken to me.

A lot of the people who knew Schilling best felt exactly the same way. He was a goofball, a funny guy, the life of the party, but he was never going to be more than that.

Schilling credited a tough-love talk with Roger Clemens with getting him straightened out. Whatever it was, something clicked in his fifth big league season.

OK---this is where I look back at the previous post and ask, "What the h@ll is that about again?" You're supposed to be building a case that says Schilling had a gutty career, a career so gutty he deserves to be put along side dudes like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Bob Horner as one of the best players ever. What...? Bob Horner is not...Oh, never mind.

Well, a big tough love talk with Roger "The Rocker" Clemens...I guess that's gutty enough to get us back on track. Well...until...

From the 1992 season on, he was a rock, winning 20 games three times, pitching 200 innings nine times.

Well, sure...if you look at it that way. But is the argument now that innings eaters are HOFers? I mean, in '93 and '94 Schilling was kind of....average. Average as in ERA+ below 100, ERA over 4 both years, and I'm to believe that "From '92 on he was a rock"? Huh. And you cut out four of the worst years of his career (cherry picker) to reduce the sample size to 16 years in all.

Now, Act the third:

True grit

A lot of people will remember him for winning a World Series game with a foot that had been sewn together. That bloody sock made for great television.

Yep, I guess. Is this the part where we get to the game? Was this the game from the beginning, because I honestly have no idea. Let's hear it:

But there were dozens and dozens of other nights when Schilling got by with is grit and determination.

OK---I'm now to believe that there were DOZENS of nights where Schilling went to the mound with nothing but chaw, the 45 hotdogs in his belly, and "grit"? When Kmart pulls this kind of bait and switch they get sued. Do you just not care to build a coherent narrative to support Schill's HOF credentials, or did you just decide that, having written 182 words, you were in to deep and just had to soldier on out the other side? For God's sake, at least plead laziness....

Sure, he talked too much at times and annoyed some teammates and all of that. The bottom line was that when it was time to put up or shut up, Schilling put up.

I'll take that as an admission of guilt, same as when those Wall St. guys get up on the stand and plead the 5th. When they've written themselves into a corner dudes like you [insert cliché here]. Pretty smooth, yes?

I drove halfway across Florida one spring to ask him if he remembered a game that I never forgot.

No way!!! Halfway across FLA, one of the skinniest state in the country? You say that like it's Texas or something. And it's to ask him about a game you never forgot? I mean...I fans would never forget...but you're right, I'm an idiot with a blog about sweet, delicious cheese fries. What the h@ll sport are we talking about again?

It was July 3, 2001. Pitching for the Diamondbacks, he allowed the Astros five runs in the first two innings at Enron Field and probably was one pitch away from being knocked out at least four different times.

This is in an article advocating Schilling for the Hall? Heavens to Mergatroid, friend, I thought that a pitcher's job was not to give up runs to the opposing team. Just shows what jerk I am. Glad you cleared that up. By all means, dude can give up 5 in 2 innings to the 'stros, that man needs to be in the Hall.

He had nothing. Yet he stayed out there, kept moving his fastball around, changing speeds and seeing if his competitive fires could overcome his lack of stuff.

On a night when a lot of guys would have taken an early shower, Schilling survived seven innings, allowed six runs, threw 115 pitches and showed how the great ones react to adversity.

It was "competitive fires" that "overcame his lack of stuff"? It wasn't that he settled in, made the proper adjustments, perhaps talked things over with his catcher in the dugout between innings? Nope: Schilling just kept moving the 'ole fastball around, changed speeds a few times, and let the "competitive fires" work their magic. And I love that it's "kept" moving the fastball around, as in "he was already moving it around but getting whacked." Makes. No. Sense.

And let me get this right: "taking one for the team" now qualifies as "showing how the great ones react to adversity"? Bob Gibson just spit his Metamusil all over his breakfast table, man. I guess this guy thought "You know, I have a keen sense of irony, so I'm gonna take some heat off of these other folks with this really great sign here. That's how the great intellectuals handle adversity."

He dug himself a 5-0 hole, but his Arizona teammates rallied to tie it. Then he made one too many mistakes, and Julio Lugo's home run won the game 6-5.

Wah?!?! So he still gave up the ghost in that game? To Julio Lugo, no less. He of the 80 lifetime HRs. Are you deranged? At what point do you, well, get to the point?

I'd known him since he arrived in the big leagues in 1988 and have seen him pitch a long list of more important games. Yet that one stands out because it spoke volumes about Schilling's heart.

Oh, it's a love story. That's cool. But you gotta come clean: does Schilling return those googley-eyed text messages you send him? Schilling's got heart, which is unquantifiable and has nothing to do with anything. The "long list of more important games" is just as irrelevant. Lots of guys pitch lots of important games. Just ask Don Larsen.

"The bottom line for me is that's a game we could have won," he said. "I had a bad start, but I gave my team seven innings. We lost a one-run game. You finish a game like that and you're tired and beat up. But you competed. That's what it's all about. To me the best 30 minutes are after a game you've won. You're in the locker room with your teammates and you feel good knowing you've done your job."

But did Schilling remember the game as well? You don't say. It's just three+ solid lines of athlete speak, which is fine, but disturbingly enough makes more sense from start to finish than anything we've seen thus far. Are you sure that this quote isn't from Richard Justice and that Curt Schilling write the rest of this? I mean, it's terrifying this man's job is having informed opinions on sports. We have sports, we have opinions, and...anecdotes?

The turning point

Please, Jesus, I do hope so. That'll be part III.

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