Richard Sandomir of the New York Times reports that Dallas Braden has been named Curt Schilling’s replacement on ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball broadcasts.
Braden, famous for tossing a perfect game in 2010, retied from baseball in early 2014, calling his arm a “shredded mess.” He only pitched 18 more innings after the 2010 season, saying “I left my arm on the mound at the Coliseum.” Since then he has had various media jobs, most recently as a studio talking head on ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight.”
All in all it’s a pretty logical move. Braden’s profile has been rising on ESPN telecasts. I can’t say I’ve caught enough of his stuff on the air to know if he’s any good, but he’s always been outspoken and a little off-the-wall. The sort of player who eschewed cliches. That’s probably a good trait to have in this line of work.
While it might be nice for sports broadcasts to get away from hiring ex-players all of the time, if they’re going to do so they should at least try to get a mix of competent analysis and entertainment value. That’s a hard balance, of course — Schilling’s original hire was likely based on him being an outspoken, unpredictable guy and we see how that turned out — but it’s worth trying again. ESPN will now try it with Braden.
A day after getting fired it appears that Curt Schilling is making up for lost time on social media. I don’t follow the guy on any platform, but the Daily News has been playing close attention and describe his “social media bender.”
He’s been posting right wing memes and railing against political correctness and, in the usual ironic twist guys like Schilling often exhibit, is being highly, highly sensitive to criticism in that “me, mad? hahaha, no, I think this is funny, I’m actually laughing at this right now” kind of way which, in reality, masks some pretty decent outrage.
Best bit: he’s been mixing it up with Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy has been intellectual and respectful and is holding an actual debate. Schilling decided that he’d insult McCarthy by claiming that McCarthy’s “life goes on” stance was some sort of failure on par with his having “only” nine career complete games:
So yeah, that’s all going well. Glad Schilling is keeping busy. And mature.
(Thanks to Josh for the heads up. Schilling blocks me so I didn’t see any of this)
With the way he had been proceeding it was only a matter of time. And now his time is up. Curt Schilling has been fired by ESPN.
The final straw came yesterday when Schilling shared a disgusting anti-transgender meme on Facebook and followed it up with supportive comments which took a distinct, inflammatory side in the ongoing debate about access to public facilities for transgender people. He later doubled down in a combative blog post on the matter. The matter has become highly controversial and Schilling weighing in in the manner he did was both insensitive to transgender persons and flew in the face of ESPN’s mandate to its on-air talent — often broken by Schilling himself — to not wade into highly-charged political topics in an inflammatory manner.
Schilling has constantly defended his behavior in this regard as a matter of his personal beliefs, but when one’s personal beliefs are in direct contradiction of your employer’s values and when you cease to heed your employer’s warnings to cease making controversial public comments, you are eventually going to be fired. And if there is any doubt that Schilling’s beliefs conflicted with his employer’s, ESPN’s statement this evening regarding the firing put that to rest:
“ESPN is an inclusive company. Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”
Schilling had already been demoted from his job on Sunday Night Baseball last year for a similar incident involving a social media meme which equated Muslims to Nazis. In the past he had also gotten into controversies regarding the teaching of evolution and, last month, was on a radio show when he said that Hillary Clinton should “be buried under a jail somewhere.” By some counts, Schilling has had no less than seven separate instances in which he came under scrutiny for his social media habits. And a guy with Schilling’s distinguished career on the mound knows that, by the time you get to seven strikes, you’re out.
A person hired to be a sports commentator can, with caution and care, wade into public matters. Many do. But the reckless and offensive way Schilling did and his repeated violation of his employer’s orders in this regard made his position untenable. And now one of the best pitchers of his generation is out of a job.