By Jon Lane
Never at a loss for words, the recently retired Curt Schilling spoke out against steroid users this week on Sirius XM’s “Mad Dog Unleashed.” Here are excerpts of the transcript passed on by SIRIUS XM:
Chris Russo: “If you had a vote, if you were a writer, Curt, would you put A-Rod, [Roger] Clemens, [Barry] Bonds in the Hall of Fame?”
Schilling: “No, none of them.”
Russo: “Really? Nobody? How about A-Rod who’s got nine years left to recover and do a decent job?”
Schilling: “No. No.”
Russo: “Manny [Ramirez]?”
Schilling: “No, no, none of them.”
Russo: “Do you think it takes away a little bit from the Red Sox’ championship in ’04?”
Schilling: “Listen, if you’re going to be one of those guys who thinks there is a team in the last 15 years that has played with 25 clean guys for 162 games, you’re lying to yourself.”
The Hall of Fame merits of Bonds, Clemens, A-Rod and Ramirez will be debated endlessly. I choose to react to this by staying in the now. A-Rod and Ramirez were caught and fessed up, and everyone has moved on. Ramirez returns to the Dodgers and “Mannywood” tomorrow, while Rodriguez continued his awesome run over the past week in Wednesday’s win over the Mariners.
Creative analogy from Peter Abraham: “Alex has pulled a Hulk Hogan in the last seven games. He was down and
out, sprawled on the canvas with the referee about to count to three. Then, suddenly, he was up and now the American League is about to get thrown around the ring before A-Rod drops the leg on them.”
Incidentally, Hogan admitted to using steroids in court, but that wasn’t the intent of the comparison. Those who followed WWE (nee the WWF) in the 1980s remember Hogan’s gimmick all too well. Neither 450-pound men jumping on his prone body nor the dreaded sleeper hold would defeat the Hulkster. He’d kick out, rise to his knees, and feeding off his frenzied “Hulkamanics” was suddenly impervious to pain. He’d take a few punches, point as his doomed opponent, connect with a few of his own, toss him against the ropes, land a big boot to the face, and drop the leg for the 1-2-3.
Those were the days …
Seriously, Rodriguez has been unbelievable since those two days of rest. One June 24 in Atlanta, after his frst two at-bats, A-Rod was in a 1-for-27 rut and batting .204, and pundits were quick to pounce on the angle that at age 33 (he turns 34 later this month) he was in a sudden decline.
Just like that, Rodriguez is 10 for his last 21 with four homers and 13 RBIs, spearheading the Yankees’ current seven-game winning streak. His mere presence in the lineup alone kick-started the Yankees. His production is taking them to new heights.
By Glenn Giangrande
Pedro Martinez is long gone. The Orioles haven’t been a threat in close to a decade. It’s been more than twice as long for Kansas City. The A’s continue to perpetually rebuild. Now Curt Schilling has called it quits.
I’m not saying it’s a sad day, but Yankee supporters are running out of people to bring the venom out in them.
What fun are sports without opponents to hate? Schilling gave Yankees fans enough fodder through the years, starting with his legendary comments about “Mystique” and “Aura” back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks and running right up through his growing presence on the ‘net during his time in Boston. As a man who earned two of his three World Series rings at the direct expense of the Yankees, Schilling grew to be a pretty loathed figure in the Bronx, and justifiably so. After all, the lasting memory of Schill’s career will be the bloody sock game that came at the expense of the Yankees in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS.
I think it’s a career that should take him to Cooperstown, but I can understand the feelings of dissenters. Sure, the Red Sox will always draw ire in general, but some Yankee fans I know will tell you that they can’t hate someone as “loveable” as David Ortiz. Maybe Kevin Youkilis fills the role one day, but they certainly don’t make public enemies like they used to, if at all.
Had Schilling’s retirement announcement come in Yankee Stadium, I’m not sure he would’ve gotten a standing ovation like the Pacers’ Reggie Miller did at Madison Square Garden in his final game there against the Knicks before hanging up his sneakers. But the vitriol level among the pinstriped faithful definitely dropped a few levels today.
By Jon Lane
Curt Schilling officially retired today after 20 seasons in baseball. He leaves with a rap sheet of conflicts with players and media a mile long, but I’m not talking about that here. Rather, I recall the night when his grit and guts transformed him to one of the greatest impact players in the game’s history.
I begin with the afternoon of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. I’m standing on the field at Fenway Park figuring out my next move when Kevin Millar comes out of the dugout and heads towards the outfield for a workout. The Red Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees and their dubious history was about to strangle them for the 87th consecutive year. The tension around the team and the city was palpable … or so it seemed.
In response to an inquiry, Millar turned to me and a few of us hanging out behind the first base line. Wearing that infectious — and in this case a devious — smile, Millar said, and I paraphrase, “These guys [the Yankees] had better win tonight. Or else we have Pedro [Martinez] in Game 5 and Schill in Game 6. Once it’s 3-3 anything can happen!” Of course, this eventually became part of Boston lore, but me and this small group of writers were the first to hear it.
The Red Sox won the next two games beginning with a Game 4 rally that started when Mariano Rivera walked Millar to lead off the bottom of the ninth ahead by a run. We’re back in New York for Game 6 and a showdown between Schilling and Jon Leiber, the Yankees’ best postseason starter that October. The Yankees smashed Schilling for six runs in three innings in Game 1. As it turned out, Schilling pitched with a loose tendon in his right ankle and his status for the rest of the series was in doubt. The next few days, Red Sox manager Terry Francona was peppered with inquires as rumors persisted Schilling would give it a go if the series were to extend to six games. When the pieces were put together, a surgical procedure done by the team doctor sutured the loose tendon and Schilling was on the mound for another of one of the Red Sox’s infinite do-or-die games.
Blood seeping through his sock during the game, all Schilling did was pitch seven innings of one-run ball to carry Boston to a 4-2 win, one that wasn’t secured until closer Keith Foulke struck out Tony Clark with two runners on in the bottom of the ninth. Like many of his teammates, Schilling talked tough, standing up to the Yankees’ mystique and aura tag-team, and backed up every word.
Schilling finishes 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA and 3,116 strikeouts, 14th on baseball’s all-time list. Much more important are his postseason numbers: 11-2 (the finest of any pitcher with at least 10 decisions) and 2.23 ERA in 19 career starts. The sock lives in the Hall of Fame. Sock, blood and right foot will reunite in five years. You can love, loathe or not give a damn about Curt Schilling, but you cannot deny his courage and grace under pressure.
By Jon Lane
While I remain in New York dealing with a stubborn Jack Frost, Team Tampa is in Clearwater today covering today’s Yankees-Phillies game. Keep it locked in for a live blog and later, Chris Shearn and Co. will have interviews, news and nuggets as the Yankees take another step towards April 6, Opening Day in Baltimore.
Some quick hits and observations from today and over the weekend:
BREAKING NEWS: Curt Schilling has retired, posting a message on his blog. More on this later.
Xavier Nady would be the starting right fielder if the season started today, said Joe Girardi, but Nick Swisher will play an important role with the team. Swisher’s versatility is well-documented, as is his penchant for keeping things loose in Yankeeland. Shearn interviewed Swisher this morning, which YESNetwork.com will have up later.
Chien-Ming Wang will start the exhibition game against the Cubs on April 3. Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett will split the game on April 4.
As Shearn reported on Saturday, Phil Hughes was optioned to Triple-A Scranton. He was simply a victim of a numbers game and needs to pitch multiple and complete innings rather than sporadic innings. This makes sense to everyone except the Loyal Order of Joba to the Bullpen (LOJB).
In case you care, Alex Rodriguez made the news again for something not related to baseball, but his personal live. The New York Daily News first reported that Kristin Davis (not the actress but the former Manhattan madam who supplied Eliot Spitzer with hookers) dated A-Rod and supplied him with clients.
Draw your own conclusions. If you want to read the story, it’s here. (Racy photo alert!)
In more refreshing news, Yankees senior advisor Ray Negron’s new book, One Last Time: Good-Bye to Yankee Stadium was released last Tuesday and rose to No. 1 on the Amazon’s Best Seller List. Negron’s second book, The Greatest Story Never Told: The Babe and Jackie was No. 4. Negron doesn’t make a dime on the proceeds. They all go to multiple charities, so keep up the support.