September 27, 2005

Why Doesn't Schilling Get Booed?

It's being talked about in here (and was something I thought about posting a few days ago). In last Wednesday's Herald (pay column, no link) Howard Bryant quoted an anonymous Red Sox player who wondered why, of everyone who has underachieved this season (Bellhorn, Millar, Renteria, Foulke), Curt Schilling has been exempt from Fenway's boo-birds. From the column:
The people have spoken. Everyone who has underperformed this year has heard about it.

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?"
Bryant explains why he thinks Schilling is The Telfon Ace:
[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. ...

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.
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.

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. ...

"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."
It's nice of him to acknowledge the long leash, but still, the question remains: Why?

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.

11 comments:

mouse said...

An interesting point; if the fans are going to boo one player for underperformance, than I think every player should be treated thusly. No double standards. If you're going to boo a huge 2004 hero like Foulke, than boo Schilling too, because both of them have had terrible seasons amid injury and ineffectiveness.

(Note: My ideal situation would be nobody getting booed at all.)

I'm really pissed off that this kind of thing is cropping up now when we're in the midst of a critical playoff push. If Curt wants to lament his "lost season," fine. But I'd have a heck of a lot more respect for him if he'd waited until AFTER the season had ended to do it. Doing it now feels so much like posturing, and it's really not the kind of thing I want to be reading about when there's six games left and the Sox are tied for first place in the East and the WC. I'd much rather see him out on the mound pitching a gem against the Blue Jays and the Yankees, you know?

Jack Marshall said...

Easy: players don't get booed who play hard, are team oriented,obviously care, and who have earned permanent respect.
Some players who never were booed while playing in Boston: Jackie Jensen; Bill Monbouquette, Frank Malzone; Ed Bressoud; George Scott; Dick Radatz; Conigliaro; Jerry Adair; Jim Lonborg, Bill Lee; Louis Tiant; Fisk; Yaz(after the '75 All Star game); Remy. I suspect we will never see Ortiz or Damon booed unless they do something off the field that is unimaginably vile. If Nomar was ever booed by more than a couple of jerks, I missed it. I know Pedro was booed, and it was disgraceful. That was the fault of the sports media.

Besides, Schilling hasn't been underperforming..he's been hurt. How many obviously injured players have EVER been booed in Boston? Don't say Foulke...nobody knew he was hurt, although some of us assumed he was.

And to blame Schilling for responding to Wells' sneak attack through the press just displays an anti-Schilling bias, which, I'm sorry, makes no sense to me at all.

redsock said...

Foulke was instructed by the Sox to get his knees checked out right after the World Series. He declined.

The Sox repeated that request at the start of spring training. Foulke again declined.

Now Foulke is saying "both sides dropped the ball" when the spring training decision was made. That's as far as he will go to admitting he was wrong and the team was right.

Sorry, Keith, you and only you blew it.

Yaz-Tex said...

I agree with Mouse - what purpose does it serve Schilling to disgorge all of this angst now that the team is hurtling toward the wire, grappling for its proverbial life and a playoff spot?

Hey Schill, we love you, man, and always will for being the gamer and medical miracle that you were in 2004 to lead your team to victory.

However, it's time for you to take the ball, kick yourself in the ass, and be the guy we saw last Fall. If you choose, there will be plenty of time for you (and Shonda) to lament the season that got away after - not before - it's over.

mouse said...

For the record, I have no anti-Schilling bias, in case it sounded like I did. That wasn't my intention. I'm just annoyed that this is coming to light in the midst of a very important week. Schilling easily could've declined to comment to the press about this issue entirely, but he didn't, of course, because he never misses a chance to speak to the media. It's part of what endears him to some and makes other people hate him.

I still fail to see why it was necessary to get his wife involved in all this as well (in the Globe article today). Yeah, it's his wife, but isn't this an issue about the Curt and the Sox clubhouse first and foremost? [Shrug]

I am against booing Red Sox players under pretty much any circumstances. Schilling's been hurt all year--it wouldn't be right to boo him. But I don't think it was right for people to boo Foulke, regardless of his comments to the media or his own stupidity regarding his knees.

michael said...

Curt is injured because he put his entire career on the line by playing in those games last year. He said screw everything else and do what you have to to get me on the field. I'm still not sure if he'd be a sure shot Hall Of Famer and I doubt he is either so he might have risked HOF chances by doing what he did, and I'm sure he knew it.

I've never boo'ed a Sox player (with the exception of Tom Gordon and Roger Clemens, after both signed with the Yankees of course) and never will. I actually get pretty upset when people like Foulke get boo'ed to begin with; however, I can see how some people might get pissed with his lack of responsibility in admitting he was hurt, etc.

John T. said...

I logged on to see if there was any word on who was the anonymous player who complained about the "free Pass" Schillling get from the fans.

Wells? Is that confirmed? When I read that it was someone who wasn't wired quite right, I thought Ramirez fits that bill, and, they have a history.

I guess I thought too highly of Wells, but I should have known better, given his comments on the guy who pushed the cameraman. I never read his book, but that probably would have tipped me off.

Those comments are so bush league at this point. Why is he even thinking about that?

I don't like booing players either. I've taken to telling people that what I hate about sports is . . . the fans.

But Foulke made some dumb comments and at least the comments and his attitude deserved booing.

Manny's lack of hustle deserves booing. But Bellhorn? A guy struggling? Never.

Wells? I'd boo him for his sniping comments.

Is it confirmed that it was Wells?

L-girl said...

The answer could be that the booing fans take their cue from the sports media, and the media gives Schilling a free ride - because he is so perfectly media friendly.

Booing your own players is disgraceful. It's something I really dislike about Boston fans. I know other fans do this, too - I was horrified to be at Yankee Stadium when people were booing Mariano - but it's legion in Boston.

Right here, a Boston fan says "I don't like booing players either." and then proceeds to list three current players that it's ok to boo with reasons for each: dumb comments and attitude, lack of hustle and sniping comments.

Jack Marshall said...

It's futile to keep getting angry about known and predicatable weaknesses, guys. Heck, YOU taught me that about Manny...he's going to do some strange things on the field, some of which will cost games, but it's both dumb and futile to fume about something that isn't going to change, so sit back and enjoy the homers and ribbies. Well, Francona's a mediocre in-game manager at best. He's conservative, unimaginative, slow, inconsistent, and basicly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. You didn't know that? Tito's strength is obviously behind the scenes, keeping a bunch of very strong and volatile personalities focused and productive. Sox history indicates that between the field geniuses like Dick Williams,Keven Kennedy, even Zimmer, who let the clubhouse atmosphere turn to crap, and the soothing but plodding dummies like Darrell Johnson, MacNamara, Grady and Tito, the latter group works a little better...except when there's a big game to play. But the geniuses have had their share of blunders too.
Yeah, I think Francona becomes a liability during these games and the play-offs. It's just something else the team has to overcome, like the injuries,lack of speed, a true ace, and a closer. But it's kind of silly to keep acting as if this is a big surprise.

Most recent Sox manager who was both a good clubhouse counsellor AND a strong field general? Ralph Houk...almost 25 years ago. (and I have a warm spot in my heart for old Joe Morgan. Joe, they done you wrong.)

Jack Marshall said...

t's futile to keep getting angry about known and predicatable weaknesses, guys. Heck, YOU taught me that about Manny...he's going to do some strange things on the field, some of which will cost games, but it's both dumb and futile to fume about something that isn't going to change, so sit back and enjoy the homers and ribbies. Well, Francona's a mediocre in-game manager at best. He's conservative, unimaginative, slow, inconsistent, and basicly not the sharpest knife in the drawer. You didn't know that? Tito's strength is obviously behind the scenes, keeping a bunch of very strong and volatile personalities focused and productive. Sox history indicates that between the field geniuses like Dick Williams,Keven Kennedy, even Zimmer, who let the clubhouse atmosphere turn to crap, and the soothing but plodding dummies like Darrell Johnson, MacNamara, Grady and Tito, the latter group works a little better...except when there's a big game to play. But the geniuses have had their share of blunders too.
Yeah, I think Francona becomes a liability during these games and the play-offs. It's just something else the team has to overcome, like the injuries,lack of speed, a true ace, and a closer. But it's kind of silly to keep acting as if this is a big surprise.

Most recent Sox manager who was both a good clubhouse counsellor AND a strong field general? Ralph Houk...almost 25 years ago. (and I have a warm spot in my heart for old Joe Morgan. Joe, they done you wrong.)

(I apologize for the duplicate posting.)

John T. said...

I like what Jack said, a little less what I-girl said. First off, I said I did not like booing, not that it disgusted me, or that it was disgraceful, or that I would outlaw it from the stands: just that I don't like it.

I should have said I don't approve of it in most instances. But a hearty booing is just what some players deserve, and need, like when they don't run out a ground ball, or when they get caught napping on base and cost their team a run, or some similar lack of fundamental baseball savvy. I don't mind a player getting booed for making inappropriate comments to the media, or for being a prima donna, or for making excessive salary demands, or for not being a team player, or for getting busted for drugs, or for beating his wife. Those are a few thing that I think deserve a hearty booing.

I can't for the life of me sanction Bellhorn getting booed.

Many fans know that the Yankee fans are the most vicious, booing not only Riviera, but Jeter. They show little class and no mercy.

It all goes under the rubric "That's baseball."

One more thing, I think Tito is smarter than Jack gives him credit for. Not my favorite manager either, but we are world champions, right now, aren't we?

Isn't there an old saying, "You can't argue with success." Still, some will.