Schilling’s Cruelest Cut

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While the failure of Curt Schilling’s ill-conceived video game business has presumably damaged his financial circumstances beyond all repair, it’s been a multiple-pronged stabbing to Schilling’s persona and supposed beliefs to not only have his reputation damaged, but to have ostensibly been abandoned by the same conservative coalition for which he donated his time, name, fame, and presumably money.

You can read the tipping point here in the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard as the reality behind Schilling’s collapsed business hits home as it’s compared to a larger scale disaster as the Obama administration’s support of Solyndra.

I’ve said before that I don’t think Schilling meant any harm with his poorly planned and doomed to fail attempts to build a business post-baseball career, but it’s indicative of his insanely high opinion of himself that he chose to take his vast fortune and sink it into such a risky venture amid the hopes that he’d turn himself into a corporate titan and, presumably, become a wealthy man at an endeavor using something other than the gift of a 95-98 mph fastball. What people are missing when they try to adhere to what’s misinterpreted and bastardized as “conservative” principles is that not everyone is able to handle a business; not everyone can create a product; not everyone can transfer success from one narrow market to another market. Bill Gates couldn’t strike out 300 batters in a season and Schilling, as evidenced by the disaster for himself and the people of Rhode Island, can’t run a video game startup. It’s not a remote experience for athletes to try their hand at outside ventures and cost themselves the fortune they accrued as players, an amount of money they could easily have lived on had they not been convinced by others that they should diversify and invest. It’s greed, arrogance, and ignorance.

Schilling was a “believer”. He really felt that the politicians and causes he supported were on the side of right. However, as evidenced by his self-involved behaviors as a player such as when he was unhappy with the new tool known as QuesTec designed to make sure the umpires were adhering more closely to the rulebook strike zone rather than relying on their own interpretation, walked over to the expensive piece of equipment and smashed it like an impulsive, tantrum-throwing child who, unhappy that he’s not getting his way, will make a scene and break things. Presumably, Schilling had to pay for the machine he damaged, but that’s beside the point. If you’re for conservative causes, then you’re for law and order and adhering to the edicts of those in charge. Breaking that with which you disagree is a form of anarchy—the antithesis of what Schilling espoused.

The video game business and its shift to Rhode Island was a means to an end. Schilling’s mandate when he received the $75 million in loan guarantees to move the business from Massachusetts to Rhode Island was contingent on creating jobs in the state. And he did. The problem was that they weren’t bringing any money into the company because their product wasn’t finished and, according to The Weekly Standard piece, they were hiring people to meet the quota. In running a viable business, meeting the quota is secondary to having multiple people doing a job that one could do adequately. It’s circular and stupid.

What’s most ironic is that Schilling, the radical right winger who believes in small government, self-reliance, and a principled core of beliefs, exemplifies that which he rails against when he cost the taxpayers of Rhode Island an immense amount of money and ravaged his own personal finances, then blamed others and implied that it’s not his fault while hinting that he needs a bailout.

But the party that might be willing to bail him out isn’t because he’s not one of them; and the party to which he was inextricably aligned dispatched him because he was no longer of use.

If he were smarter, I’d say maybe he learned a lesson. But he’s not. So he probably didn’t.

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Curt Schilling Witlessly Follows The Lenny Dykstra Business Model

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Curt Schilling is a believer.

When he sticks to his Republican talking points, ends his self-righteous blog postings with “God bless you and God bless the United States of America” as if he’s concluding a Presidential address and appears as a prize showhorse at GOP events, he truly thinks he’s a part of the culture and is adhering to the strict principles of conservatism.

In a way it’s admirable. In another it’s stupid.

Perhaps Schilling was under the naïve impression that his Republican pals would bail him if he ran into trouble with his video game business. He was a “job creator” after all—the same type of person whose plans for expansion are strangled by a “socialist” administration bent on robbing the rich and giving to the poor. Schilling received a $75 million loan guarantee from the state of Rhode Island to move his company there from Massachusetts. The guarantee was provided by the ousted Republican Governor of the state, Donald Carcieri. Now that the former liberal Republican and now Independent Lincoln Chafee is the Governor, there’s a back and forth as to whom is responsible for the demise of Schilling’s company and what’s going to be done in its aftermath.

You can read the news story here on Boston.com.

It sounds as if Schilling’s looking for more money. Saying that he stands to lose the $50 million he claims to have left from his playing days isn’t going to elicit sympathy from the people of Rhode Island, nor is it going to persuade any “friend” Schilling has in the Republican party to stand up for him especially if he can no longer help them get elected.

Schilling’s adherence to the system is going to be his downfall. All he need do is look at how quickly Roger Clemens’s supporters ran from him once he found himself on trial for perjury. The battle lines were drawn at the congressional hearing when Clemens forcefully proclaimed his innocence of using PEDs and—according to the government—perjured himself in the process. The Republicans in the hearing were starstruck and aghast at the Democrats’ attacks on Clemens. Then their support withered away once Clemens became a detriment. Now he’s on trial and one would assume a vast chunk of his fortune is going towards legal fees.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, Schilling made over $114 million as a player in his career. Those who think that’s all he made are not accounting for endorsements and other income that’s not counted in a player’s salary such as per diem benefits, licensing fees for things such as baseball cards and other enticements received by athletes that would be plenty for a normal person to live on quite comfortably. He’ll still receive his players’ pension.

It’s irrelevant whether or not the business model Schilling used to get the loan was solid enough to warrant a $75 million guarantee from Rhode Island or if Schilling was risking his own money. It’s his company and he’s responsible for it. For someone like Schilling this is a combination of the worst case scenario personally and publicly. He idealism has reverberated back on him and, in spite of his intentions, he’s left to portray himself as another victim of the economic downturn and political expediency.

He wants a bailout that neither the government nor the taxpayer are not going to want to give him. The United States couldn’t function without the banking industry and the auto industry—other recipients of such bailouts. It will survive the destruction of Schilling’s video game company.

Maybe he’ll be able to go to people from his baseball playing days to find a path out of this mess, but given his polarizing personality I can’t foresee anyone doing anything more than giving him a job as a coach or broadcaster and that’s not going to get him the money he needs. A tell-all book would make him Jose Canseco-money, but that won’t clear the debts either. No one will do what Rhode Island did and hand him a check.

Schilling sought to be an entrepreneur when he might’ve been better off holding onto his money. If he had $50 million, was that not suitable? He had to try and be a big shot and put his money where his principles were under the mistaken belief that this endeavor was a version of giving back and practicing what he preached as an overt supporter of conservative causes? Not everyone can be an innovator, a job-creator or a business titan. Some people are meant to do what it was Schilling did: throw a baseball.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

He’s learning the hard way.

Lenny Dykstra tried to create a vast empire of his own. He had a string of successful car washes that would’ve kept him comfortable for the rest of his life with little effort on his part, but he wanted more. He had to be a “player” as his ill-fated magazine “The Players Club” will attest. His schemes were ludicrous. Now he’s in jail and under siege by endless lawsuits.

Schilling was the polar opposite of Dykstra but his finances are heading for the same place. It’s likely because they both had delusions of grandeur and the mistaken thought that because they were successful as athletes and people cheered for them when they were in uniform that the blind idolatry would easily translate into the business world. If it didn’t work, well, there’s always someone to bail them out.

It’s not the case and Schilling could wind up a broken man in every conceivable sense because of it.

This doesn’t make Schilling a bad person as some suggest. But it does make him the epitome of what he railed against in his politics. No one wants to be called a hypocrite, but that’s the least of Schilling’s problems right now.

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