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Schilling can't stop shilling

Red Sox right-hander gets political after leading Red Sox to title

Posted: Monday November 1, 2004 12:49PM; Updated: Monday November 1, 2004 3:30PM
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George Bush; Curt Schilling
Curt Schilling met up with the Bush campaign Monday in Wilmington, Ohio.

Apparently Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling thinks that blowing an 86-year-old hex to smithereens makes him an instant expert even on complex, non-baseball-related matters. Either that or he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

After helping to lead Boston to its first World Series title since 1918, Schilling suddenly feels politically astute enough to tell us all who our next president should be. Appearing on ABC's Good Morning America the day after the Sox wrapped up the championship, he surprised interviewer Charlie Gibson at the end of the segment by saying, "And make sure you tell everybody to vote, and vote Bush next week."

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Nothing against Schilling -- it's hard to blame him for feeling full of himself after helping reverse the dreaded Curse of the Bambino -- but he had no business injecting his political views, unsolicited, into the appearance. Besides that, his voting suggestions should carry about as much weight with the American public as, say, cooking tips from James Carville.

In neither case would we have reason to believe that the advice-giver has any idea what the devil he's talking about. If Schilling says, "Remember, America, pushing off your back leg will give you better velocity on your fastball," I'm listening. If he tries to tell me what to do when I step into the voting booth, I'm laughing.

In Schilling's defense, it's admirable that he cares enough to urge us which way to vote on Tuesday. There are lots of athletes who are only concerned with the presidents who appear in their wallet. He is also free to voice his opinion, and he's hardly the first celebrity to think that expertise in one field translates into another. Schilling is like the Oscar-winner who thinks he knows everything about protecting the environment or the pop singer who wants to tell us what's really going on in Iraq -- well-meaning, but not necessarily well-informed.

Here's hoping no one decides which candidate to vote for based solely on Schilling's say-so. Even Red Sox fans, as indebted as they are to him, shouldn't let their euphoria over the Series prevent them from making their own decision.

At least Schilling had the good sense not to go further than a simple endorsement of the president. He didn't get nearly as carried away as Yankees owner George Steinbrenner once did when he was slapped with a felony conviction for illegal contributions to the Richard Nixon re-election campaign. In the field of political ethics, give the edge to Schilling, yet another victory for the Sox over the Yanks.

This is getting to be a pattern.

Sports Illustrated senior writer Phil Taylor writes about a Hot Button topic every Monday on SI.com.