Schilling must be a Hall of Famer, Giants could use Manny and more
Schilling's the last person I'd want to spend time with, but he had all-time stuff
GM: "If the Giants signed Manny, they would be the frontrunner in that division''
Chris Carpenter is looking promising in his comeback effort and other notes
Curt Schilling has to be in the Hall of Fame.
I write that without any hesitation, reservation or research. I don't need to look at his stats. I know what he's done.
The Hall of Fame should be about impact, not statistics. Numbers are nice, but they don't necessarily make the player.
Some Hall of Fame cases are being built on a pile of numbers now, and I can see how in rare cases a player's career can be re-evaluated by dissecting the latest data. But in general, I think that's a funny way to get into Cooperstown. Conversely, Schilling is maybe the perfect example of a pitcher who had great impact but whose career regular-year numbers are merely excellent but not among the all-time best.
The Hall of Fame should be for players who did great things, staged big moments and affected things the way Schilling did.
Like him or hate (and I can't say I fall into the former category there, as I consider him a cyber and in-person annoyance), Schilling had a tremendous impact on most games he pitched, and on the game itself. He was a star who pitched his team into four World Series, and to three titles. In 2001 and 2004 in particular, it was his pitching that made the difference.
I ran into Schilling's former Phillies teammate Dave Hollins the day Schilling announced his retirement, and after one of us joked about whether Schilling would follow through on his announcement or stage some dramatic comeback, Hollins offered the long-held view of Schilling, but in a nicer way. "You love to have him on your side every fifth day,'' Hollins said.
Former Phillies GM Ed Wade expressed a variation of that statement (only said much harsher) many years ago. It went something along the lines of, "He was a horse once every five days and a horse's ass the other four days.''
Although I never spent four consecutive days with Schilling, I don't doubt that. He always came off as a guy who thought he was an expert in everything simply because he had more pitching talent than just about anyone else. He still blows hard on his 38Pitches, a Web site I religiously avoid.
Anyway, Schilling still gets credit for that fifth day, not demerits for the other four. Schilling was often great on that fifth day, and he was almost always great when it mattered most.
There are people who believe that he played the famed "bloody sock'' game for all it was worth, that he purposely made it look good, or at least did nothing to stem the flow of blood. I wouldn't put much past Schilling, but I am convinced that he was hurt, and that he was bleeding, and that he should get credit for pitching heroically that day, for beating the Yankees and the jinx, and for helping the Red Sox win the World Series for the first time in 86 years.
He called a championship for Boston -- saying that was his intention the moment the Diamondbacks traded him there -- then he delivered. That's almost Namath-like. Joe Namath's career football numbers aren't so perfect, either, and nobody doubted his Hall of Fame qualifications. Championships are what it's all about, and Schilling played as great a role in winning championships as just about any player of his generation except Mariano Rivera.
That Schilling won "only'' 216 games shouldn't be counted against him. That he had "only'' maybe seven or eight great seasons shouldn't either. If it's about numbers, it shouldn't only be about total numbers. He had three 300-strikeout seasons, three 20-win seasons. He struck 3,116 batters while only walking 711.
He had all-time stuff. And as much as I hate to admit this, he had all-time heart. He was 10-2 with a 2.23 ERA in the postseason. He and Randy Johnson were the two biggest keys to the Diamondbacks winning the thrilling 2001 World Series, and he and Manny Ramirez were the keys to the Red Sox winning the historic 2004 Series.
It's safe to say Schilling is about the last person I'd want to spend any appreciable time with. But if I had a game on the line I had to win, and if Sandy Koufax wasn't available that day, I'd give John Smoltz or Schilling the ball.
Mays, McCovey or Manny would help pitching-rich Giants
There is plenty of offensive firepower in the San Francisco Giants clubhouse. Or there was on the day I visited. Willie Mays was sitting at a table in the clubhouse, Willie McCovey was resting in the dugout, and Will Clark was chatting with current players. The Giants' starting pitching looks so good, it's truly a shame they don't have at least one active player anywhere near as good as any of those guys in their prime.
Among active players, Manny Ramirez would have made a nice addition to the Giants. He could have replicated the years of Barry Bonds, with comparable productivity, less controversy and more good cheer.
"I think if the Giants signed Manny, they would be the frontrunner in that division,'' one competing GM said.
But Giants people approached the Ramirez negotiations as an outsider only prepared to pounce should the negotiations between Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and agent Scott Boras blow up. That came close to happening after McCourt blew a gasket a time or two. However, when Manny and the Dodgers finally agreed for $45 million over two years, with the opt-out clause Ramirez sought, the Giants were left with a clubhouse of really aging superstar hitters (the retired guys, as opposed to the old guys they trotted out there in recent years), decent veterans and hopeful prospects.
The Giants looks like a half a team in some respects. Their starting pitching looks dynamic, but their offense could easily come up limp again. There's a lot of talk about how great the Giants' pitching might be, especially with 45-year-old Randy Johnson looking good in camp. But as one competing GM said, "Exactly how many games can you win, 1-0?''
They might have to win a few.
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