The people have spoken. Everyone who has underperformed this year has heard about it.Bryant explains why he thinks Schilling is The Telfon Ace:
Everyone, that is, except the Teflon Red Sox, Curt Schilling.
It is a phenomenon that has not gone unnoticed, especially by many of his teammates. With the possible exception of Foulke, Schilling has had the worst year of any major player on the club, yet has been spared fan wrath.
Entering last night, his home ERA was 6.33. His ERA as a starter was 6.71. He said he'd stabilize the bullpen, but his ERA was 5.58. He has the highest ERA of any regular on the club. Who do hitters prefer to face more than any other Red Sox regular pitcher? That would be Curt Schilling, who owns a .317 batting average against. To find a higher number, you'd have to sift through the stats of guys like Blaine Neal, Scott Cassidy and Mike Remlinger. ...
"Yet," one player told me, "when he comes into the game people cheer him like he's the Pope. You think they'd let Pedro get away with this? Why does he get the pass?"
[He] came to Boston with the embers of Aaron Boone still crackling. He came here to deliver a championship when no one else had and he did. And he did it by allowing doctors to stitch his ankle tendon to the top of his skin. ... He maimed himself for them. ... People in Boston will never forget that. ...Bryant is at least partially correct. Schilling quite likely hastened the end of his career with the operations he underwent during last year's ALCS and World Series. And I, along with millions of other Red Sox fans (and Yankee haters) will never forget it.
Renteria and Millar are good players, and Bellhorn was an easy target, but none are as important to another World Series run as Curt Schilling. Do the Red Sox repeat without a strong Schilling? I don't think so. The fans know this, or at least they believe they can't celebrate without him. You don't boo the meal ticket, even if by the way you've booed everybody else, he's had it coming.
But there were other Sox who played roles that were as important (even more?) than Schilling did. Foulke, who was probably a better choice for World Series MVP than Ramirez, comes to mind immediately. And this year, just like Schilling, he was hurt, and when he did pitch, he pitched badly. Yet Foulke has been booed like crazy and Schilling has not. Why?
Bob Hohler includes the quote and gets Schilling's reaction in a feature on how tough this year has been on his entire family:
"Somebody on this team wants me to get booed to make them feel better, and that really bothers me a lot. Those are the kinds of things that really make me look at this game and understand that when I'm done in the game, I'll be done with the game. ... [Schilling said the teammate is] somebody who's not wired right. As much time as we spend together, you think you know someone. But more times than not you find you really don't."Hohler notes that Schilling
increasingly has felt a sense of responsibility for the team's shortcomings. Had he pitched to his potential, he figures, he may have spared some of his teammates from the sourness they endured. ...It's nice of him to acknowledge the long leash, but still, the question remains: Why?
"I've been given a long leash this year by the fans, which I'm very appreciative of," he said. "But my teammates were just as responsible as I was for helping to win the World Series last year, and it has been really, really uncomfortable for me to see them go through what they have gone through this year."
I can think of two reasons: (1) Schilling is a master at playing the media game and Foulke, as we have seen this year, is not (neither was Bellhorn) and (2) when Schilling was acquired, it felt like we now had the missing piece. And it turns out we were right.
Beyond that, I don't know.