When Curt Schilling was diagnosed with cancer back in February he did not reveal the form of cancer. He and his family have kept almost everything about it to themselves, actually, as one might quite reasonably wish to do.
However, Schilling is talking about it now. He announced today during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio Telethon that he was diagnosed with mouth cancer. Thankfully, he is currently in remission.
But this story is not going to end here. Not after this:
We have already lost one Hall of Famer this year to cancer that, he believed anyway, was attributable to smokeless tobacco. That a should-be and likely will-be Hall of Famer is now coming forward and saying that he believes smokeless tobacco threatened his life should only increase the volume on this long overdue wakeup call to baseball players who continue to use the junk.
Here’s hoping Schilling continues back on the mend and here’s hoping that his coming forward helps prevent future cases like his.
Good news for Curt Schilling and his family: he tweeted this yesterday:
The former Astros/Orioles/Phillies/Diamondbacks/Red Sox pitcher revealed in February that he has cancer, though he’s never said which kind he has. Whatever kind it is, any kind that is in remission is better than a kind that is not.
Schilling won 216 games, was a three-time Cy Young runner up and won three world championships before retiring at the age of 40 in 2007. He’s recently done studio work for ESPN on Baseball Tonight, and he had been slated to join the network’s broadcast booth for Sunday Night Baseball this season before his illness struck. Here’s hoping he’s well enough to be back to work soon.
Former major league All-Star Curt Schilling revealed Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with cancer.
“I’ve always believed life is about embracing the gifts and rising up to meet the challenges,” the 47-year-old said in a statement. “We’ve been presented with another challenge, as I’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer. Shonda and I want to send a sincere thank you and our appreciation to those who have called and sent prayers, and we ask that if you are so inclined, to keep the Schilling family in your prayers.”
Through an ESPN spokesman, Schilling declined to say what type of cancer he’s battling.
Schilling won 216 games, was a three-time Cy Young runner up and won three world championships before retiring at the age of 40 in 2007. He’s been eligible for the Hall of Fame the last two years, receiving 39 percent of the vote in 2013 and 29 percent on this year’s overstuffed ballot. Since retirement, he made news by starting a video game company that later went bankrupt, leading to a lawsuit against him by the state of Rhode Island. He’s recently done studio work for ESPN on Baseball Tonight, and he had been slated to join the network’s broadcast booth for Sunday Night Baseball this season.
Bob Raissman of the Daily News spoke with Curt Schilling, ESPN’s new Sunday Night Baseball color commentator. They talked about style and stuff, and Schilling, quite characteristically, does not lack confidence:
“I can watch a pitcher for an inning and have a deep and wide understanding of who and what they are and what they do . . . If I were to talk to you about a pitch sequence to a hitter in the seventh inning, literally every pitch has 50 to 60 thoughts, ideas and processes around it and behind it,” Schilling said. “Just getting some of that out there is going to be different, new and unique.”
I don’t know how unique that is. Tim McCarver, Schilling’s predecessor Orel Hershiser and many others talk about what the pitcher is thinking. Maybe Schilling can do it better because he’s a better pitcher than most analysts ever were and is certainly a smart guy. But hearing Schilling talk about being “different, new and unique” gives me pause. I’d love him to just give us an enjoyable broadcast, not try to make his mark. But I suppose we’ll see how it plays out.
The other big issue that comes up: criticism of players. Schilling says he’s going to criticize in a way that is not negative. I’m not sure what that means. In the context of broadcasting — and in the opinion of players — there appears to be very little distinction made between criticizing performance and being personally negative or attacking someone. Merely saying a guy didn’t have a good game plan at the plate is taken as out-of-bounds criticism at times and, as a result, there is a big tendency among ex-athletes to say almost nothing negative. It’s really a drag, because sometimes you have to say something negative.
If Schilling is able to make that distinction — to hate the player’s game, not the player — that truly would be revolutionary. I hope he does it. Because viewers will be just as much if not more enlightened to understand what led to a player’s failure in any given moment than merely to what led to his success.
Yesterday we learned that Orel Hershisher is leaving ESPN to take a job broadcasting Dodgers games. Because, for some reason, ESPN thinks that a three-man booth is good for baseball (it isn’t) they felt obligated to fill Hershiser’s spot. And because, for some reason, ESPN thinks Curt Schilling is someone people want to listen to (he isn’t) they have given him the gig. Schilling will become a Sunday Night Baseball analyst alongside play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman and his former Phillies teammate John Kruk.
Schilling is not dumb and, in the studio, he is capable of making good points from time-to-time. He also, however, (a) tends to fall back on cliche at a pretty high rate; and (b) has a habit of trying to say too much in too short a time and his voice gets high and strained and, frankly, it’s kind of exhausting to listen to him for a long time. One wonders how he’ll sound over the course of a three-hour broadcast.
The bigger issue here is the insistence by ESPN on having a three-man booth. It leads to exceedingly long stretches of conversation among the broadcasters, with everyone trying to say things to justify their existence in the booth which, in turn, causes them to ignore game action for several minutes at a time. I mean, say what you want about Joe Morgan, but at least when it was him and Jon Miller in the booth they talked about the game going on in front of them. Now? Sunday Night Baseball is often unwatchable or, at the very least, unlistenable. Adding Schilling does nothing to remedy that.