Curt on D&C: World Series, Pedro and Comebacks
Curt Schilling appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about the World Series, Pedro Martinez, the American League’s dominance, and comebacks from Pedro, Brett Favre and even one of his own that never got past his kitchen.
The transcript follows. To hear the interview, check the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
You knew before that game began that Pedro was in trouble, didn’t you?
He was going to have issues.
Against that team, it was going to be tough.
In October, yes. It’s such as tough time for a guy who has become more of a contact pitcher to keep things down. Obviously, he didn’t have anything last night. And it was a struggle.
Put last night into some some of meaningful context for us … as distasteful as that may be for you to do.
Oh, Jeez, let’s all cheer up because A-Rod‘s come full circle now. He’s got his ring, he’s complete, blah, blah, blah, whatever. Listen, they’re used to it, and they have to accept the fact that no one outside New York is even remotely happy today. OK, the Yankees won. Move on. When does spring training start? When do we sign free agents? I don’t know. … That’s [Derek] Jeter‘s fifth ring, wow, that’s impressive. Johnny [Damon], who I think everybody wrote off early — “That contract is going to be a bad one” — it’s turned about to be a situation now where he might end up getting a multiyear deal again from the Yankees. He certainly had an impact year in the sense that it’s going to have some impact on the Jason Bay thing and whether New York becomes a serious player. But beyond that, no. I love to see Mariano Rivera, I’m a fan. And Eric Hinske as well. So, it’s a personal thing for me. I think for players maybe. I don’t know that I’m really friends with anybody in my life that wants any team in New York to ever win anything.
Dissect for us if you can the phenomenal success and longevity of Mo Rivera.
On one pitch. It’s unprecedented. I think anybody can comfortably say that he’s the greatest closer in the history of the game. And to be the greatest closer in the history of the game on one pitch, it’s just one of those things that’s really hard to quantify and explain.
We were reminded of how much fun [Pedro] really was and how entertaining he really was. And I decided it’s a shame we had to bring you to Boston and run him out of town. Why did you do that?
Here’s the thing about that, though. This is from a player’s perspective. I’ve played with a couple of guys in my life that were first-ballot Hall of Famers, Pedro being one of them. And he wasn’t a player that etched that Hall of Fame monument when I played with him. But as a player, you see that funny-ha-ha stuff and the from-the-heart stuff in a different light [because] you’re living with these guys every day. And there’s things that happen behind the scenes that aren’t fun and cool. And you watch people that you care about and people that you know respect the game get disrespected. You guys remember, when Pedro was here, Pedro played by different rules. And Pedro, to a degree, earned the right to play by different rules. But players that play by different rules and take advantage of those, that’s probably the only reason I ever had issues with Pedro. And it was not a big deal, I know people are going to make it a bigger deal than I’m making it. But the amount of respect and admiration and the loyalty and friendship I have with [Terry Francona] … I saw some things, from Opening Day leaving the ballpark in Tito’s first game here. There’s just little, crappy, dumb stuff. But you know what, you never questioned the guy’s heart and commitment and the fact that he was going to leave it on the field every fifth day. As a teammate, that’s all I ever asked from anybody I ever played with, and there are very few guys I played with that didn’t give me that.
By and large, was it how Pedro treated other people, or how he expected to be treated and have his own set of rules and show up for a start whenever he wanted to show up, that kind of thing?
I think you guys know, I always felt like with Pedro it was how he was treated. I think it would be hypocritical of me to get on that when you’re talking about a guy, and a bunch of guys, you’re talking about Dominican players, who come from a very different environment. I read something he said yesterday or the day before about that Latin players or Dominican players grow up in a world of survival. I’ve been to the Dominican and played winter baseball. While it certainly has changed, it is a very different life there. These kids, it’s baseball, or crime, or an incredibly low … So, they go through and endure things to get to the big leagues that none of us could even dream of. So, I certainly can’t comment to his mindset and mentality as it relates to that. And that’s a lot of what shaped Pedro, and it’s a lot of what made Pedro great. I mean, he still had a chip on his shoulder for [Tommy] Lasorda and the Dodgers his entire life. Them trading him was an immense sign of disrespect. It was also one of the stupidest trades in the history of the game.
Could you win 12 games in the National League right now?
No, maybe next April.
Why would any free agent go to the American League?
That was probably as big a factor as anything [for Pedro]. When I got traded from Philadelphia, the initial deal that I had gotten traded from Philadelphia for was to Cleveland. It was for [Jim] Thome, [Brian] Giles … and I actually ended up going back and nixing the deal. It had nothing to do with Cleveland. I did not want to go to the American League. I wasn’t ready mentally to go to the American League. At the same time, when I left Arizona, I hesitantly put the Yankees as the team I was mostly thinking about leaving for with a couple of other National League teams, thinking that the National League teams would be the players. When it became clear that it was going to come down to Boston or New York, for me it was like, “Oh, no.” I had to dig through that a little bit. Once I knew that Boston was going to give me the resources to prepare, I felt better about it. But it’s night and day. It is not even remotely close from a talent standpoint. No disrespect to the National League, but there are no lineups … You look at the worst team in the American League every year and they could compete to be .500 club in the National League in most years.
If J.D. Drew hits eighth here, what would he hit [in the NL]?
He’s a 2-3-4 hitter in the National League. He fits best in this league, in this lineup in Boston … especially if it’s the 150-game-a-year J.D. Drew, which is hard to get sometimes, and he’s putting his numbers up, he’s a middle-of-the-lineup hitter. But he fits in this Boston lineup in the 7-8 hole.
What keeps a guy like Pedro … consider coming back when he knows he can’t pitch and be the Pedro that he used to be?
I was asked that question a lot of times. It’s a no-brainer for me. But I can totally understand how it can be a no-brainer in the other direction. “OK, what do you want to do next year?” “Well, let’s see, I can go play professional baseball, and travel around the world on charter flights, and get paid five or six million a year to play in big league stadiums, or I can go sit under the mango tree. Having the choice, I made my choice and thank God I had the ability to make the choice I wanted to make. He does, too. If he wants to play, so what?
But what you didn’t add to that first scenario was “and perhaps embarrass myself.”
You guys all spent six months talking about Brett Favre the same way.
He’s got a half-a-season to go.
It doesn’t matter. There’s nobody that was crucifying Favre that thought that [the Vikings being] 7-1 was even a remote possibility.
What do you mean, “you guys.” What did you say?
No, you and I actually talked about that. Listen, the Brett Favre is a media whore/attention whore story is because that’s what the media reports it as. He didn’t call his own press conferences.
[Favre] put himself in the perfect position to succeed. I think Pedro did the same thing. He went to the best team in the worst league. … If he could do that again next year, why wouldn’t he do that again?
The one scenario I possibly had contemplated was coming back for the second half of this year and pitching. What I realized early in the year was I could pitch again and I could be better than I was in ’07. I had to sit down and kind of go through the mental checklist at home. And there were no checks in the “for” box. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to. I was laughing because I was sitting around thinking about, “Jeez, I don’t want to go out in the middle of the season and work to get a job for a team if no one needs pitching,” and it turned out in the middle of the season every team I ever played for needed pitching. Once Pedro signed in Philadelphia, I thought, “Wow, that’s cool.” It played out perfectly. It was good to see him do that. Pedro brings a lot to the table when he’s committed to something, even when he’s not pitching. And I’m sure he had an impact and some influence on the young Latin players on that team, as well as the young pitchers.
Should Red Sox fans be worried about [David Ortiz’ attitude toward working out in the offseason]?
No one ever questioned David Ortiz’ work ethic before April, May and June of last year. You guys always talk about the fact that, “He’s a little heavy here. Boy, he looks big there,” but no one ever questioned anything he ever did until he had that three-month absence for the most part. It depends on how much of a free pass you’re going to give him. It’s going to be an individual thing. He’s going to come back in April and he’s going to have done the work. I always felt David was always ready to play when the season started, when spring training started, so I never questioned his ability or his desire or work ethic in the offseason. And I won’t do it now. I’m sure that he earned as much about himself in that three-month stretch as anybody. And he’s going to spend this winter trying to make sure that whatever he did last winter that he thinks might help cause that three-month hiatus to go away, because the last couple of months of the season, he was as good as anyone in the league.
Do you think Charlie Manuel should have yanked Petey in the third when [Hideki] Matsui stepped up there with the bases loaded?
I don’t think it matters. It didn’t matter. So, in the third inning, they would have been going to the one thing everybody was recognizing at as a weakness, as opposed to the fourth inning. I don’t think they had a bad bullpen at all, I think they just had a bullpen that was throwing very badly at the worst time of the year.
Wouldn’t you rather have a strong J.A. Happ, who was warm?
You can question all those [decisions] you want. I don’t think it would have mattered last night. I think the Yankees were going to get the hits they needed to get, and they were going to pitch the way they needed to pitch to win that game. For [the Phillies] to come back and win two games, they needed Pedro to give them seven last night, because that bullpen was going to be the issue.
Would [the Red Sox] bring [Johnny Damon] back here? Would it be a good move?
I heard someone talking about, and I’ll go where some a couple of other people have gone: I don’t care, I don’t know, maybe, yes, it doesn’t matter. I would just love to hear that press conference. I would love to hear the, “Why did you go to New York when you said you weren’t going to go, and why the hell are you coming back here.” Knowing Johnny, I have no idea what he’d say. That would probably be as fascinating as any question ever asked at any press conference.
Should Cliff Lee have started three games?
I’m still a little puzzled by that one. But the fact of the matter is he didn’t want to. I’ve been in enough situations to know that when your ace is saying, “I want the ball, I’m good to go, I can do it” on three days’ rest, you don’t give the ball to somebody else. Not in October, no way. I think had he wanted to, he would have. But I don’t think it was something he wanted to do.
What were you thinking when you watched that [Yankees postgame celebration] last night?
I did not watch it last night. I couldn’t. But I always watched [opposing team’s celebrations] for that effect alone. I wanted to first of all give respect to the guys that did it. It’s a big deal. But secondly, to remember it’s painful to watch. It’s something when you’re going home in the winter and you’re pushing the sled or you’re on the treadmill, you’re thinking through those things. There are things that push you to make sure that they don’t happen again. And that was always the reason I ended up watching any, if I watched it at all.