No, Curt, thank you. Photo taken in October 2007 by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net. Used with permission
I try not to blog during the day. It’s bad form to work at the part-time job during the full-time job. But, on occasion, I’ve been known to take a break and blog if something big happens and I want to touch on it as the news is breaking. It hasn’t happened in a while, but today was one of those days.
Of course, Curt broke the Internet when he posted his announcement today, so I didn’t really have an opportunity to do it even if I wanted to. 🙂
I suppose it didn’t come as a surprise that Curt was going to retire. Not being able to play last year, being very tight-lipped about what he was going to do this year, most of us could see the writing on the wall. What did surprise me is my reaction. I first found out by an update that came from SoSH, the title reading: “Schilling Retires”. I saw that and my heart sank. It was a reaction I didn’t expect.
For a while I’ve written about how much I appreciate what Curt did in 2004 and 2007 and how, regardless of our differences, I’ll never forget it. I don’t think I ever truly examined my feelings about him and what his part on those teams really means to me. Curt’s announcement made me have to face that today.
It seems that only a handful of fanbases truly understand what happened in Red Sox Nation back on October 27, 2004. And only real sports fans can grasp that the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series was truly a life-changing event. (Before I get comments and emails reminding me that it’s only a game, let me remind you that I care so deeply about baseball that I spend the better part of my free time reading about it, writing about it, and watching it. Even so, I understand the difference between baseball and “real life” and the Red Sox finally winning the World Series after 86 years truly did change my life as a baseball fan.)
I’m from a close-knit family, made up of some of the most die-hard sports fans you’ll ever meet. That night I watched my mother, approaching 60 years old, sob with joy she didn’t know if she’d ever experience from baseball. I watched my father, not quite 70 years old, sit in stunned, happy silence as he watched the team celebrate. He finally broke the silence with “I never thought I’d see this”. I listened to my sister scream and I fielded calls from relatives saying things like “Tomorrow we’re going to the cemetery to put the sports page on Grandpa’s grave”.
My friends, many of whom cried desperate tears of sadness with me just a year before when poor Tim Wakefield gave up that home run to Aaron Boone, cried giant tears of happiness with me…and a few tears of disbelief. How could this team, down 3-0 in the ALCS, be celebrating in St. Louis? There were many reasons, not the least of which was Curt Schilling.
If you want to get under my skin quickly, there are a few of easy ways to do it. Insult someone I love; use the word “Masshole” around me; ridicule Kyle Snyder, or tell me that Curt Schilling’s bloody sock was ketchup, paint, a marker or anything else other than blood. I can’t get over how many people truly believe this is true.
Now, I’m somewhat cynical by nature. I don’t believe Bud Selig has the best interests of baseball and its fans at heart. I don’t believe Manny Ramirez didn’t know exactly how things would pan out prior to being traded. I don’t believe A*Rod has stopped using PEDs and I don’t believe that Derek Jeter had no clue what A*Rod was doing. But I absolutely believe, with all that’s in me, that Curt bled for this team. I also believe, in doing so, that he shortened his career for the sake of that 2004 championship. And I will fist fight with anyone who says differently.
I will also mock you. I mean, seriously, do you also think the Moon Landing was faked? That’s one hell of a conspiracy the Hall of Fame is a party to if you’re right.
So I sit here, truly saddened that someone who made such an impact on my baseball fandom (let us not forget 2001. The first World Series for which I cried happy tears at the ending.) will no longer be playing the game. Our differences of opinion aside, I have a lot of respect for Curt and I wish nothing but good for him. I’m comforted by the thought that he won’t end his career in another uniform while also still melancholy that things finally have come to an end. No one was more surprised than I was when I began crying today while talking about Curt retiring.
It’s taken me roughly 800 words to just say this: Thank you, Curt. Thanks for coming here and helping to do what you set out to do. Some day, I’d like to buy you a beer. I promise not to pick a fight.