Scarlet Fever

A teenage girl's perspective on the Red Sox and everything else.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Not Worth a Schilling

The warm sun shines in a cloudless sky, warming the baseball players working out in Fort Myers, Florida. The men in red stretch on the springy grass, their faces upturned toward the endless blue. Yet though it is midmorning in the Sunshine State, the sun is a setting sun for Curt Schilling. There is a good chance that this is his last Spring Training with the Red Sox, and as he nears his forty-first birthday, the reality of his age has set in.
Curt is a fan favorite, forever frozen in their memories as the pitcher with the bloody sock in that amazing 2004 postseason. But a fan base's affection doesn't stop time. The fact is that Schilling isn't a rookie anymore and "there's a bit of a sliding scale based on age," for Theo Epstein. "The deeper you go into your career, I think the more hesitant the club might be to guarantee salary years in advance. Curt is going to be 41. At that age, we get a little more conservative."
Though disappointing for both Schilling and many fans, Epstein's decision was a smart one. Schilling has the pitching ability of an ace and the attitude of a Ford, "built tough," but he's not ageless. It is impossibile to foretell how Big Schill's body will hold up. Pitching every five days puts a lot of stress on a pitcher's arm and body, and so many seasons of hard work tire one out quickly, even a man as tough as Curt. Should he remain healthy and effective throughout 2007, Epstein promises that "we'll find a way to keep him in a Red Sox uniform." For now, however, "It doesn't make sense from a business standpoint... to guarantee that kind of money a year in advance for a 41-year-old." Sox chairman Tom Werner echoes that "Curt Schilling will end his career as a Red Sox player... If he pitches as well as he expects to pitch this year, of course we'll make a deal for him for next year."
And Schill's thoughts on all this? "It's disappointing, but I said earlier, that's the way it works sometimes. It's a business, and I get that." Don't worry about his uncertain future affecting his performance this year, either, because "I don't pitch for contracts. I pitch for the reasons that I love playing the game."
Spoken like a true Sox.


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