When I think of Curt Schilling, I think of Doug Neidermeyer from Animal House: “shot in Vietnam by his own troops”.
Schilling is polarizing.
He’s intelligent, well-spoken, self-interested, slightly disingenuous, generous and astute.
He’s a person who can’t be pigeonholed.
His latest controversy stems from comments he’s made regarding the Red Sox.
If this were coming from anyone other than Schilling—Pedro Martinez; Jason Varitek; Tim Wakefield; Kevin Millar—an acknowledged Red Sox hero and/or leader from the past, it would be taken as a legitimate concern without pretense or favor. Since it’s coming from Schilling, the comments are being dissected to interpret what he’s really trying to say; what underlying reason he has for basically telling the Red Sox and their fans that they’re in for a long year.
The Valentine hire was rife with risk. This was known from the start. Because he has controversy attached to him like an underdeveloped and troublesome conjoined twin, the media is going to take everything Valentine says and magnify it. The perceived disagreements regarding the decision to start Mike Aviles over Jose Iglesias at shortstop and the role of Daniel Bard are no more outrageous than what any other club with similar questions would deal with.
Since Valentine has that history of clashing with management, media and players, those small fires are going to be stoked to create an inferno where there normally wouldn’t be one. If Terry Francona were still managing the team, the decisions would be questioned, but the motives wouldn’t be; nor would they be exacerbated by implying a “fight” between manager and front office that’s nothing more than a discussion and disagreement within the organization.
That’s the bigger problem for the Red Sox.
For observers who’ve grown accustomed to writing the Red Sox down as championship contenders every year, this is a new dynamic. They could win 90 games; they could win 78 games. The Red Sox circumstances haven’t been so ambiguous for over a decade. Valentine increases the spotlight.
If you look at their personalities and how others view them, Valentine and Schilling are basically the same guy.
That and Schilling’s experience playing for the Red Sox give him an insight into the clubhouse that others don’t have. He can see what’s coming.
There’s a possibility that Schilling is advancing a personal agenda by saying negative things about the Red Sox. I don’t know what that agenda could be. But he might in fact be telling the truth as he sees it.
And that would be far worse for the Red Sox than Schilling trying to get his name in the newspapers and blogs. It’s not the comments that are making people angry. It’s the fear that he might be right.