Curt Schilling says Clay Buchholz doesn’t want to be an ace


Death. Taxes. The sun rising in the east. Curt Schilling peddling bullcrap that, coincidentally, serves to bolster his own legend. These are among the few 100% inevitable things in the cosmos.

An example of that last one came yesterday when, in the course of a media conference call, Curt Schilling said that Clay Buchholz doesn’t have what it takes to be a No. 1 starter:

“Well, I don’t think he wants to be one,” Schilling said Wednesday in a conference call to promote ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. “I think there’s a level of commitment mentally and physically you have to have. You have to have a little bit of a dark side, I think, in the sense that losing has to hurt so bad that you do whatever you can do to make sure it never happens again. Clay is just kind of, ‘Hey, I’m going to pitch today.'”

Pretty classic Schilling in that he cites traits that he himself had and which no one can reasonably dispute and then he asserts that someone else doesn’t have them via mind reading or armchair psychiatry or what have you. As if every top starter for a contending club must be psychologically wired like a Hall of Fame-caliber guy. As if he knows what goes on in Clay Buchholz’s mind.

If you want to say that the Red Sox rotation has questions, say it. Because it does. If you want to say that Clay Buchholz has been an uneven pitcher and it’s not at all certain that he can fulfill his potential in 2015, say that too, because it’s possible. But please, spare me the “he doesn’t want it bad enough” jazz. Especially when your entire basis for saying that is “hey, when I pitched, I did, and that guy ain’t me.”

In other news, Curt Schilling pitched in the majors a mere eight years ago. Imagine how amazing his “these kids just don’t want it bad enough” game will be in another decade or so.

Theo Epstein and Curt Schilling had a pretty interesting exchange about Kris Bryant

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Cubs president Theo Epstein was in the ESPN booth for a Cubs spring training game yesterday when Curt Schilling — back on broadcast duties this year, it’s good to note — challenged him regarding Kris Bryant’s presumably imminent demotion to the minor leagues.

You know and I know that, in all likelihood, this is a service time play. Curt Schilling knows it too. So when he asked his questions, he put himself in the role of a player who has seen this stuff before. Specifically, he asked Epstein if can honestly tell the players in the clubhouse that, without Bryant, the 25 best Chicago Cubs players are heading north with the team.

Epstein, however, had a pretty good baseball answer. At the very least one that, should Scott Boras or the union do what some have suggested they do and file a grievance over Bryant not breaking camp with the Cubs, will absolutely end their case before it begins. You don’t have to buy it, but you can bet all of your worldly possessions that an arbitrator would.

The answer: a long, long list of Red Sox players who, while clearly among the most 25-talented players in the organization at the time, did not begin the season with the Sox because Epstein likes to give such players extra seasoning in the minors and prefers to give promising young players their debut after the season has began.

Hanley Ramirez and Clay Buchholz, each of whom Epstein says tore it up during spring training, yet still went back down to Pawtucket. Dustin Pedroia. Jacoby Ellsbury were also name-checked. Epstein says that he can’t recall ever starting a rookie in the bigs on Opening Day. In a world where precedent is everything, that precedent would get the union laughed out of the room.

But, much to Curt Schilling’s credit, he didn’t just accept that answer. He poked straight to the heart of it with the equivalent of a “c’mon, the real explanation here is that it’s a business decision, right?” It was a followup Epstein dodged — not a bad dodge, but a dodge all the same — but one that I liked to see from Schilling and which you rarely, rarely see from broadcasters who have a guest in the booth with them. Especially a big time one like Theo Epstein. It’s normally softball city with no attempt to challenge anyone on their answers.

Watch the whole exchange:

To sum up: for all of the sturm und drang about Kris Bryant, there is literally no way whatsoever anyone gets any traction with a grievance here. Indeed, there’s no way anyone can make a case that this is even unusual. Espstein just nailed that to the wall.

Still, good to see Schilling with the “I-don’t-give-a-crap, be honest with me” follow up here. It makes pretty good use of his strengths — his former ballplayer status allowed him to ask this in a way most reporters can’t and his outspoken nature allowed him to cut to the chase — even if those strengths sometimes can be insufferable in other settings. And suggests that maybe — just maybe — ESPN broadcasts with him in the booth could have less fluff and a little bit more bite than they’ve had in the past.

Before we laud Curt Schilling too much for his attack on corrosive social media . . .

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I’ll say it today just like I said it yesterday: good for Curt Schilling for speaking out, loudly, about the corrosive elements of social media and for going after the jerks who made threats against his daughter. I’ll praise him for doing that seven days a week and twice on Sunday.

But as Christian Arcand writes over at the ESPN New Hampshire radio site today, let’s not get too carried away lauding Curt Schilling’s war on corrosive social media. Mostly because Curt Schilling has contributed greatly to corrosive social media himself:

Accountability is a two way street, and Curt Schilling’s social media postings have crossed that line several times.  So while you listen to masses laud him as a hero for going after the cyber-bullies who attacked his daughter, just keep in mind that most of the people he retweeted have/had just a small handful of followers.  Curt Schilling has a vast audience.  Tens of thousands of people were exposed to his hateful and wildly offensive postings and yet there has been no recourse.  He still works for ESPN and I can guarantee you he doesn’t think he did a single thing wrong by posting any of the three examples I’ve cited.

Arcand provides some good examples of Schilling’s social media transgressions. And no, we’re not talking about his stuff about evolution here.

My hope is that, in light of the awfulness Schilling had to put up with this week, he’ll rethink what his own words on social media mean to people. I’m not counting on it, but perhaps this will lead to some reevaluation by him. He’s a pretty bright guy and the parallels, one hopes, are not lost on him.

But either way, this was a good, thought-provoking read which reminds us that even a broken clock is right twice a day.