The Posturing of Curt Schilling
Alex Rodriguez’s decision to endorse the Red Sox’ castigation of his character this week had the desired effect of quieting a Boston team that apparently thought the Yankee third basemen was susceptible to high school baiting tactics. Baseball, for now, appears to be the focus in the New York and Boston camps. The important business of spring training is proceeding, as both teams try to turn question marks into exclamation points before the season opener.
Quiet time never lasts, though, when Curt Schilling is around. Like a gnat to a porch light on a humid summer night, the Red Sox pitcher and self-appointed spokesperson for, well, most everything, has moved center stage with his award-winning theatrics. Grab some popcorn and pull up a chair, folks. It’s time for The Ego and The Ankle, Part II.
If you hadn’t heard that Schilling donated the bloody sock from last year’s World Series to the Hall of Fame, yesterday’s bullpen session was further reminder that Superman has a bad wheel. Grimacing and frowning, changing baseball cleats, acting grumpy toward the press, Schilling was in his element. With an opening day showdown with Randy Johnson hanging in the balance, he would not commit to making the start. The greater Boston area is left to worry, pray, and take online polls about whether or not Schilling will rise to the ocassion. It creates a wonderful win-win-win situation for The Curtster: 1) He’s the center of attention for the next three weeks; 2) he can take the mound and beat Johnson, and Boston will overnight his nomination for sainthood to the Vatican 3) Lose? Run his hands through his hair, shrug at God, and limp gingerly from the field to a tearful standing ovation.
Pitch? You bet he will.
It’s all carefully calculated by a man who understands his consumers with razor-like focus. He sells a brand image of dogged perseverence, one that most people desperately want to see in themselves. He's been focus-grouped and packaged perfectly.
After 9/11, Curt Schilling took out an ad in major newspapers to support the firemen who had died and the troops who were about to go into harm’s way. At best, a curious but endearing move; at worst, an opportunistic attempt to align himself with everyday heroes, the folks who risk their lives for the rest of us. Which begs this question: if heroism is about risk-taking, why does Curt Schilling’s brand of heroism come without risk?