(Never let it be said again that I allow my personal biases to affect my ethics criticism….)
Last night, the Boston Red Sox had the ceremonial first pitch of Game #2 of the World Series thrown en masse by seven members of the 2004 World Series winning Sox, the team that ended Boston’s 86 year World Series championship drought, forever banishing the franchise’s reputation as the team that could never quite manage to win the final game. David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar, Keith Foulk and Alan Embree received the cheers of the crowd, but perhaps the biggest symbol of the team’s achievement of all, pitcher Curt Schilling, was absent. Schilling was the warrior who started two crucial games (One on the way to beating the Yankees in the league championship series, and another against St. Louis in the World series), winning both, with his ankle tendon crudely stitched to his skin to keep it stable, as blood seeped into his sock for all to see. It is one of the great moments of on-field sacrifice and heroism in baseball history.
How could they snub Schilling, of all players? Was he invited? “Nope,” he tweeted to a fan who asked during the game. “No worrries though, great to see @45PedroMartinez, @davidortiz and @KMillar15 though.” “Oh,” he added, “and I get to keep my 3 rings and 3 trophies, so it’s all good.”
Not really. Schilling was obviously insulted, and should have been. “Were my feelings hurt? In one sense, yes, not being able to be on the field with the men who I will always share …2004 with and not being able to once again thank the folks who paid for the tickets and whose lives changed with ours sucks,” Schilling posted on Facebook today.
The team, through a spokeswoman, denied an intentional snub. “The ceremonial first pitch started with a couple of 2004 guys and then grew organically as we learned of other ’04 players who were planning to be at the ballpark for Game 2. There was no blanket invite to the entire team,” she said, “and no slight intended to anyone not included.”
What utter BS.
If that were true, then the Red Sox PR department is populated by morons, and we know it is not. The team is extremely savvy in its public relations, and it had to know that Schilling’s absence would be noticed and criticized. But Red Sox ownership, and much of its management presumably, tilts hard leftward, as the recent disgraceful removal of the name “Yawkey” from a street boarding the Fenway Park, an insult to the man and the family most responsible for the team’s enduring popularity, and an act worthy of enshrinement in the Ingratitude Hall of Fame. Curt Schilling, in contrast, is an outspoken and not especially diplomatic arch-conservative. This has so far kept him from being voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, where he unquestionably belongs, and lost him his job with ESPN, after some politically incorrect political jibes and criticism of Hillary Clinton on social media. (A scandal involving Rhode Island investing gobs of state money in his game company, which promptly went bankrupt, probably didn’t help.) Now the team that owes hims so much—Schilling’s pitching while injured almost certainly curtailed his career—has decided that that being a Donald Trump fan even disqualifies a genuine local sports hero from being properly respected, honored and remembered.
Schilling,to his credit and his pain, is defiant, writing last night and today,
“What they did, or did not do, tonight was done 100% on purpose and completely expected … But ANYONE that knows me knows that whatever you think of my beliefs and integrity and my word, anyone that knows me knows how I feel about them. They are, in my opinion, the core of a man…One thing I do know for a fact. Most every night of my life I have slept soundly. That’s not to say I’m perfect, I’m FAR from it and always will be but my dad told me that would be the case going in. But I’ve held true to my loves, passions, beliefs and faith in a world desperate to make people abandon all of them. People say ‘you paid the price’ and I honestly disagree. What I’ve been able to experience is so far beyond anything i could have ever hoped for….I wanted to write this because I have been overwhelmed with DM’s, PM’s and texts to a level I had no concept of, of people apologizing for the Sox. No need. I will sleep soundly again tonight.because I know what I did in 2004, the men on that field know what I did … I don’t need a ceremony to know what we did that year.
“So no, I didn’t get invited, I didn’t get snubbed. I just didn’t get an invitation from a few ‘weak’ men who’ve spent their entire lives paying and watching other men achieve.”