I came home to very pleasing news tonight. Curt Schilling is coming back for one more year. He keeps saying he wants to retire in a year and he wants his last season to be with the Red Sox.
I didn’t want to weigh in on the whole issue of “is he gone” versus “he’ll be back, lemme tell ya” when his blog has been deliberately obtuse. Above all, while he hold a special part of my Red Sox heart over the Bloody Sox Win, I really wondered how red he bled, because, compared to my impression of a lot of the popular Red Sox players, he really hasn’t been with the club all that long.
I am glad he’s coming back, though. Better yet, upon reading the details of his contract structure, I really appreciate how he knows playing well and contributing to the team remains high priority, over being the star. What messages he has sent:
– His contract value. With the amount of rings he owns, his experience, his skill, he could easily have worked a big value contract with any of the other teams he listed on his preferred desitinations.
– His contract structure. Instead, he opted for an incentive-heavy contract, the rewards him if he does well and not so much if he doesn’t. He has essentially agreed to take the responsibility of maintaining his health and conditioning and his performance.
– His community roots. The Schillings have developed strong ties to the Boston community. Which goes back to why I loved growing up with the Red Sox- they were our neighbours. And stating firmly that even if they had to relocate, they would be back to continue their charity events says a lot.
The Red Sox had to take him, with that kind of attitude. Statistics aside, Schilling offers something infinitely more valuable that wins and ERA. He offers mentorship. The club has, literally, a whole new generation of phenomenal pitchers gorwing into their uniforms. The one true veteran who can offer guidance, mentorship, encouragement and good ol’ wisdom would have been Wakefield. Until now, with Schilling in the mix. Even Beckett would benefit from the mentorship of the two combined veterans. Because our ace is, after all, only 27 years young, and needs to be able to work to sustain a long lasting career as an ace, rather than throwing himself into early retirment as such a young age. What better way to learn than from one of the most respected and decorated pitchers?
I do hope, though, Schilling does retire next year as he claim he would, with a Red Sox jersey. Clemens has failed to do so. Let not Schilling make the same mistake. He needs to do so with dignity, and walk away one of the most respected pitchers I will watch, on a high note.
I’m clapping like a gleeful 4-year-old with the news of the clubhouse exercising the option for Wakefield. Yes, he is injured. Yes, he had not had a good postseason. Yes, he had not had a good end of the regular season. But 17 wins in a season? It counts for something. It counts for a lot. Then there is also the intangible.
I alluded often to the “Red Sox identity.” The postseason really emphasizes on how professional baseball is different from school teams. It’s business. I don’t say it in a demeaning way, just factually. But, given all that, once the player is on a team, he plays for the team. I didn’t see a single person on that team being half-hearted about the World Series win, even if he was bound for free agency. All this, after all, is a team sport.
But some players got deeper into the sense of team and seem to adopt the team as his home team. Those players identify themselves as a member of that specific team, regardless of pay, and regardless of team’s hardware or lack thereof. Of course, this sense of is limited to some common sense factors like decent treatment from the clubhouse, some level of loyalty to the coaching staff and nucleus team composition.
Some players I feel had developed a true sense of Red Sox identity:
- Varitek (obviously, the captain)
- and Wakefield (for whose return I truly celebrate)
Some, I hope, will develop as they go deeper into their budding careers, and some of whom are starting to show it, but are really too rookie to tell:
Finally, some who want to, providing the club demonstrates some reciprocal treatment:
- Schilling, to some degree
And I’ll dare to say it: sometimes I feel Manny is Red Sox, other times I wonder if he plays more for himself. He certainly has helped define the Red Sox with his seemingly carefree and loose attitude. But who has his loyalty? We may technically hold the contract but what is his heart saying? I can’t tell.
Also, I have no idea where to place Crisp and Beckett. I hope Beckett joins the club in more ways than a contractual agreement. Being the ace certainly made him more appealing but how red does he bleed? How red is he capable of bleeding?
Finally, I get a taste of offseason with no baseball games and no player antics to comment on. I scour the newssites and there really isn’t much going on outside a few postseason dealings and Papelbon making late night.
Looks like Torre continues to coach. I am not surprised. He is far too accomplished and talented to retire, no matter his age. Furthermore, baseball has been so important in his life- he can’t be forced to retire. He needs to retire on his terms, when he wants. So the Dodgers gained big time. Hopefully, the team will support the hype of his joining. Unlike what I remember of the hoopla that surrounded this city when Joe Gibbs came back to coach for the Redskins. The fans predicted an immediate turn-around with the team and a Super Bowl visit that same season. Hmm, doesn’t quite work that way. Patience and time, fans. It takes both for changes to take effect, unless we’re talking about a complete overhauling.
I was reading Curt Schilling’s blog today. It seems to be the primary source of Red Sox reporters’ articles anyway. And one comment from a fan on his latest entry really resonated in me: “My only question is, did you have to start talking about free agency, the very 1st day after the World Series? Couldn’t it wait a week?”
Um, actually, that’s true. Why that day, the Rolling Rally day? And on his blog as well. How much of a grace period did he have to declare free agency? Was it ten days or so? It may be something in the regulations and policies and I simply don’t know about it. Was it his way of forcing the Red Sox front office to act by creating competition? Or was it a message to the fans that “it just ain’t happening, so goodbye!” Or maybe not the fans, but, rather, to the clubhouse itself, as a kiss-off? I can only wait and see.
This postseason stuff is slow, man. I ought to know. I used to be in the business of contracting and, boy, “slow” doesn’t even begin to describe how dragged out the process can be. But, at the same time, if both parties really want the agreement down fast, it can be done.
So, back to watching leaves fall.
I’m so glad Ellsbury and Hinske had a chance to play. It’s understandable that the normal starters are, well, the starters, especially when Manny has hit many crucial runs in this series. But, it’s nice the kids get a chance to play, however short, in this series.
Pitching: Schilling is Schilling, reliable, veteran, and fantastic. Congratulations on another post-season win for you, Schilling. Why in heaven’s name do we still use Gagne?!?! I don’t care if we have a “safe buffer”, this could have been a shut-out. I know it seems contradictory that I say this after my first paragraph, but the former two have proved their worth.
I did not anticipate a sweep of this series, but I am glad. It will boost the team morale going into the championship series, not that they need it, but we’ll take any help we get… my magnet doesn’t seem so obnoxious anymore! It’s interesting all the teams so far have swept their respective series. Go Cleveland, and complete this pattern tonight.