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Curt Schilling on The Big Show, 10/30

October 30, 2009

Curt Schilling appeared on The Big Show this afternoon to talk about the World Series, particularly how Pedro will do in his return to Yankee Stadium and how the Phillies can use their Game 1 win to give them an advantage for the next few games against the Yankees. He also identified the offseason move that he believes could propel the Red Sox to a 115-win season next year.

Click here for the full audio and read below for some highlights.

How good was Cliff Lee last night?

He was decent. [Laughs]

What worked for him last night?

Well, you know, everybody talks about first-pitch strikes, but I learned a long time ago first-pitch strikes are great. The necessity is the strike within the first two pitches. The biggest swing in batting average against is from 2 balls, 1 strike to 1 ball, 2 strikes. You need to be 1-1 on every hitter if you’re not 0-1, and he was strike one [or] if not, ball one, strike one. I think he had more swings than misses last night than in any other start last year which says a lot. He pitched exactly how you have to pitch that [Yankee] lineup and they were swinging out of the zone a little bit more than I am used to see them do, but that’s a testament to how good his stuff was.

What is a spiked curveball? How is that different from a normal curveball?

It could be grip and by spiked your front finger is, you’re literally putting your knuckle on the ball, it’s also called a knuckle-curve. Generally, a spiked curveball is one that if you look at it from the side it kind of has a spiked trail to its movement.

Would you have pitched Pedro [Martinez] tonight in Yankee Stadium?

Hell yeah! Yeah, I mean this is good stuff. Pedro’s right. Sometimes things happen for reasons unbeknownst to us. This is poetry. He’s going to soak it in in a very big way. The thing you got to always love about Pedey is that he speaks from his heart.

A lot like you, Curt.

Well, he does and you appreciate that. You get tired of just hearing the cliche guy and they’re a necessity for some media outlets, but give me the guy who’s going to speak from his heart because that’s the guy I know is going to leave it out on the field every single time and you could never question Pedey’s commitment to what he did for a living and he’s one of the best that’s ever done it. If you talked to him two years ago when he was with the Mets and said, “Hey, two years from now, you’re going to pitch against the Yankees in the World Series,” he sure as hell wouldn’t have thought about being with the Phillies. It’s good to see, it’s exciting. It’s good for the game. It’s turned this into a kind of must-watch World Series. [The Phillies] winning last night was huge. It was huge for the television ratings.

If the Yankees win last night, 6-1, I don’t think anybody’s watching it. Tonight’s going to be a huge number because everybody’s going to be rooting against the Yankees and for Pedey.

Well, yeah, there’s a lot to the subplot of this. Players don’t hate the Yankees. There’s individually some guys you could do without. I like CC Sabathia, I’m a huge fan of his. I think he’s a great kid, he’s obviously a very good pitcher. There’s a lot more guys to like than dislike on that team, so I certainly wasn’t bringing the hatred to the game for the Yankees. I think they’ve done something pretty cool. Unlike, I’m sure, 99 percent of the fans in Boston. There’s a reason to watch now and you got a lot of New Englanders who are going to be die-hard Phillies fans for the next five, six, seven games.

So, what’s your prediction especially with A.J. Burnett?

You could get seven innings, 14 punch-outs and a hit out of A.J. tonight. You could also just as likely get 3 1/3, 7 walks, and 5 runs. He is that combustible. That’s the reason I don’t pay 85 million dollars for a guy that can give me five, six starts a year for three-four innings and that has always been the knock on A.J., was you didn’t know. I know A.J., I love him to death. I always thought from an arm standpoint he’s as good if not better than anyone in the game, but he’s never gotten to that next level. Tonight could be one of those times where he can turn the corner and become somebody for the next couple years, but against that lineup it’s going to be very hard if he’s not throwing strikes early in the count and that’s not his forte, it’s going to be very hard for him to go deep into this ballgame.

Is that the biggest thing when a guy’s got great talent, but he can’t get it?

Absolutely. I played with so many guys coming up from A-ball to the big leagues who I always look back on and say this person has far more talent than I’ll ever have and they are working 9-5’s for some point before ever getting to the big leagues. The game of big league baseball is as much, if not more about what you do outside-the-lines as much as in them because everybody has that 2-4 hours of 9 inning game time or 4 quarters of game-play. That doesn’t change for anybody, it’s those 20-22 hours between those games what you do with yourself. A lot of it for me was very much mental. I could visualize hundreds if not thousands of times before I was on the mound because baseball was everything to me. I could remember sitting at a red light at Christmas Eve in Arizona thinking about how was I going to pitch to Vladimir Guerrero next year because I spent the whole year pounding [him]. That’s how I thought. You get guys like Cliff Lee who played baseball his whole life and this is not a pressure-packed situation. This is what guys dream about. This is what separates guys in October.

If Pedro pitches the same way against the Yankees as he did against the Dodgers will that be his approach?

Pedro’s approach is Pedro is going to pitch the way he wants to pitch and the thing that separates Pedro is that he is one of the few who could ever do it, he could adjust in between pitches based on the hitter’s reaction and what he saw. I never had the perception or the ability to be that aware on the field, to watch a guy move a foot or so in the batter’s box. There’s an awareness on the field for a player that Pedro possesses. Greg Maddux was one of the other guys who could do it. I couldn’t do it. He will be a guy who will come out with a game plan, the skeleton of the game plan will be put together and he will adjust based on his stuff, the weather, how the hitter is reacting early on and whether they are aggressive early in the count or timid early in the count. Not only will he adjust, but he will adjust and execute and that’s a big difference. There are a lot of guys that can’t make the adjustment. Some of the guys that can make the adjustment can’t execute. He can do both.

What Charlie Manuel’s approach in his bullpen now hasn’t throw in 7 or 8 days?

There’s no limits on anybody in the World Series. Everybody’s available on every night, whenever you need them. I think what he’s hoping given that the weather is going to be cool it’s going to help Pedro in some ways, especially having a change-up in cold weather as opposed to a breaking-ball being a primary pitch. He’s going to hope to get six or seven out of Pedro at the most. That lineup can chew you up from a pitch count standpoint and Pedro’s going to have to have command from his fastball from the outset tonight or he’s not going to go deep in the game.

Does Cliff Lee have to change what he did in that game?

No. I think being used three times in nine days, I never changed anything about what I was doing and I remember being stunned by the post-game comments from them talking about first game they were going to wait me out and work the count and I was a first-pitch strike guy the entire year, like I was going to change all of a sudden. Second game they got aggressive and I worked off the play a little bit more. Third game they waited me out again. I was the same pitcher three games in a row and they adjusted three different times. It’s a psychological thing in October. I would argue that the World Series can be won tonight. I don’t doubt that for a second. If Philadelphia wins tonight, I cannot envision the Yankees beating them four more before the Phillies win two.

Give me an order of guys you would want on the top of your staff.

[Roy] Halladay, one. I wouldn’t even deal with any of the other ones. I love the other guys, but if I am going out at the trade deadline and if you look at the players they are going to have to give up in those deals, it’s kind of the same mix and you’re adding or subtracting a player or two in that mix, but I’m putting a horse at the top of my rotation because of Halladay, [Josh] Beckett, [Jon] Lester. You’re looking at a 115-win season. I don’t care what division you are playing in.

Is he going to use [the heat from Yankee Stadium] to his advantage?

Absolutely. I think he’s at a point, place, and time where he will be good with it. For me, that was every bit as motivational as the hometown team standing up and yelling and cheering was hearing Yankee people call me names. I enjoyed that, I loved that. I would imagine you’ll hear “Who’s your daddy?” once or twice.

How does [Brad Mills] leaving affect the Red Sox or does it at all?

Well, it’s hard to overstate what he did. Here, they [Terry Francona and Mills] run the organization from the first day of camp until the end of the season. Terry’s a great communicator, but you always have to have that guy that’s walking around the clubhouse saying, “You’re in tomorrow, you’re not playing tomorrow.” I think that’s an enormous asset Brad got exposed to being able to coach under Terry, it’s going to serve him well in Houston. It’s going to leave a gaping hole. Having said that, there’s a couple of guys in the organization and a couple of guys around the league who have an interest in coming here.

Mark McGwire. He resurfaces as hitting coach and reports are coming out that McGwire used performance-enhancing drugs. If he was trying to get away from the attention he might create, isn’t he putting himself right in the think of it?

I can’t answer it. I know Mark and I’ve always enjoyed my relationship with Mark. I assumed he was gone forever from the spotlight and I assumed that’s what he wanted. He was always a very quiet, shy guy to begin with. I don’t know. He’s obviously got reasons and my only hope and I don’t believe that’s the case either is that he’s not doing this because he has to, but I don’t know.

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