There’s a very strong possibility that tonight’s game at Fenway could very well be Curt Schilling’s last with the Red Sox. That is, of course, if the Red Sox do not win the next two games of the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians to advance to the World Series to face the Colorado Rockies.
Schilling, though, is likely headed toward free agency and one more contract (possibly for two years?) before closing down a pretty stellar career. Will it be good enough to get him into the Hall of Fame? Probably, eventually. Schilling was one of the best big-game pitchers of his era, and was certainly better than Roger Clemens in the playoffs.
Better yet, if one wants to know how good Schilling was, just ask him. Actually, read his web site or just follow the TV cameras… if there is a bright light shining somewhere, Schilling likely will be trying to stand in front of it.
Anyway, there will likely be a lot of attention paid to the notion that Schilling could be pitching in his last game for the Red Sox during tonight’s telecast of Game 6 of the ALCS on Fox. In fact, Tim McCarver and Joe Buck with song-and-dance man Rosenthal… whathisname… Ken, that’s it… anyway, Tim, Joe and Ken will probably bring up the idea of Schilling returning to Philadelphia to pitch for the Phillies in 2008.
It’s doubtful, though, that the trio will bring up the notion of Schilling upsetting the harmony in the clubhouse or anything of that nature. But then again, you never know. That could be a topic for discussion since those playoff games on late-night TV tend to last five to six hours. Plus, the idea of Schilling returning to the Phillies and wrecking havoc in the clubhouse is a fair topic. It could happen. Oh sure, some might argue that if Brett Myers didn’t mess up the clubhouse chemistry then how could Schilling?
True. But then again, Schilling is reasonably intelligent. Smart people are more difficult to write off as a mere nuisance.
But back to the real point… perhaps the most interesting element of the ALCS thus far hasn’t been the notion of Curt Schilling pitching in his final game for the Red Sox. Instead, it has been Josh Beckett’s first playoff appearances for Boston. In that regard it would be fair to say that Beckett has been noteworthy.
Just a little.
In three playoff starts this year, Becket is 3-0 with 26 strikeouts with one walk in 23 innings. His ERA is 1.17, his WHIP is 0.43 and he is the reason why the Red Sox are still alive in the post-season and still have a chance to go to the World Series. Based on Beckett’s playoff run with the Marlins during the 2003 season in which he was named World Series MVP, it looks as if the younger right-hander is taking over for the older dude as the best big-game pitcher of the era.
In nine playoff appearances, Beckett has 73 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings with a 1.78 ERA. For comparisons’ sake, Schilling had 73 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings for a 1.62 ERA in his first nine playoff appearances. His 10th was Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
The numbers, the right-handedness and the big-time outings in the playoffs are not the only similarities between Schilling and Beckett. They both also seem to be royal pains in the ass.
Schilling’s track record in that regard is well documented as everyone in Philadelphia certainly remembers. He was, as ex-GM Ed Wade pointed out, the horse on the day he pitched and the horse’s ass the other days of the week. That’s easily Wade’s best line ever.
But as far as Beckett goes, his horse’s assiness is starting to gain more momentum. Phillies’ fans might remember the incident from the pre-season exhibition game at Citizens Bank Park in 2006 when Beckett trash-talked at Ryan Howard so much and for so long that the Phillies’ gentle giant finally had enough, tossed his glove aside and called Beckett out.
Conveniently enough, Beckett safely had a dugout full of teammates and a railing between him and Howard lest he be turned into the slugger’s personal hand puppet. Which may have been the case during Game 5 of the ALCS when Beckett repeated the potty-mouth act with ex-Phillie Kenny Lofton, who after flying out took a special detour back to the dugout via the pitchers’ mound where he acted as if he had the intention of slapping Beckett.
Again, Beckett was safely nestled in a cocoon of teammates so Lofton couldn’t get close enough to take a whack.
Note:Apropos of nothing, here’s something funny about Lofton: he has a rep as a bit of prima donna in his relations with the press as well as a clubhouse lawyer, but for some reason I always found myself rooting for Lofton to clean house when he was in a few minor fracases over the past few years. That’s interesting to me.
It keeps going with Beckett, too. Coincidentally, or at least so they say, the Indians hired Beckett’s ex-girlfriend to sing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch while the pitcher waited on the mound for her to finish. Needless to say, Beckett was asked about the “coincidence” during the post-game press conference, and, well, let’s just say he gave a pretty honest answer.
Take a look:
Warning: the video contains a popular vulgarity and Josh Beckett. Do not play the video in front of children or anywhere else where it would be deemed inappropriate.
See. He didn’t have to do that, though it’s definitely more interesting that he did. Speaking of spicing up a post-game press conference and Boston-area pro sports, a Dallas radio station sent a dude to ask questions of the Patriots’ Bill Belichek and Tom Brady speaking in the rat-a-tat-tat cadence of the old newsreel reporter. The incident made quite a splash because writers working on a deadline have no sense of humor about what questions are asked and when and what the responses are/aren’t.
This is understandable, but then again, anything that makes humorless scribes whine and complain even more than the typical once every three seconds is hilarious to me.
Here it is:
Warning: the video contains Bill Belichek
Truth be told, however, I have to say I’m a little peeved at the old timey newsreel dude from Dallas. Actually, “peeved” is the wrong wrong. “Jealous” is more like it. You see, Matt Yallof and I came up with the idea first. In fact, I double-dared him to burst into the coat closet-sized visiting manager’s office at Shea Stadium and pepper then manager Larry Bowa with questions about “the local nine.”
Then I set the over/under for when he would get punched in the face by another media member or Bowa at 90 seconds.
Nevertheless, Matt and I thought the gag was so funny that we spent the entire drive back to Philadelphia from Shea speaking only in the old-time radio announcer’s voice. I’ll admit that it was a hoot for the first hour of the drive home, but then I began to feel sorry for our driver/photographer, Chris Smith… the things he had to tolerate.
But that doesn’t mean we ever broke character. Plus, I think there was a point where Matt turned his rendition into a bit for a TV story. He had a fedora, an old Smith-Corona and a clipped, rapid-fire monotone. Needless to say, all of this together spelled TV gold.
Blast from the past
I was reading through some of these old posts the other day and came across this from Dec. 13, 2006 regarding a special clause in Adam Eaton’s newly signed three-year contract.
Upon signing, Eaton received a certified doctor’s note from the best psychiatrist in Philadelphia addressed to the commissioner’s office, informing them that he must wear an iPod while pitching to drown out the inevitable boos that come with playing in Philadelphia. This, the doctor argued, will keep Eaton’s fragile psyche in check, allowing the city’s residents to sleep in peace without worrying about another “ugly incident.”
No, it this wasn’t written by Nostradamus, but maybe it should have been.