ESPN Fires Curt Schilling

140 Comments

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.

Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name

Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
12 Comments

The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan report that Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name as recently as December. The fake name is Mason Saunders. Bumgarner explains that “Mason” is shortened from “Madison,” while “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name.

Bumgarner — err, Saunders — and one of his rodeo partners, Jaxson Tucker, won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in December. The Rancho Rio Arena posted a picture of the pair on Facebook, highlighting that they roped four steers in 31.36 seconds.

As Baggarly and Buchanan point out, Bumgarner also pointed out in a rodeo competition last March, just a couple days before pitching in a Cactus League game versus the Athletics, back when he was still with the Giants.

Bumgarner suffered bruised ribs and a left shoulder AC sprain in 2017 when he got into a dirt bike accident. Given that, Bumgarner’s latest extracurricular activity does raise a concern for the Diamondbacks, who inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract two months ago. Baggarly and Buchanan asked Bumgarner about such a concern. Bumgarner referred them to the club’s managing partner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick directed them to GM Mike Hazen. Hazen declined speaking about “specific contract language.” For what it’s worth, Bumgarner says he primarily uses his right hand to rope.

The jig is up on Bumgarner’s hobby. He jokingly said to The Athletic’s pair, “I’m nervous about this interview right now.” He added, “I’m upset with both you two.”