The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Atonement for Players I Hate

Less so on this blog and more so in real life, I have been highly critical over the years of Curt Schilling and Jeff Kent. Granted, both are great players and both will merit serious consideration for the Hall of Fame once they hang up their cleats. Still though, I have not been a big fan of either player over the years for a number of reasons.

Curt Schilling normally portrays himself as a fan like you and I. I don’t believe this though. Schilling is quick to voice his opinion and to tell you what you should think, but only when it’s convenient for him. If you don’t believe me, search around a little bit – you can even read through some threads on Sons of Sam Horn. Better yet – you probably recall ESPN highlights of Schilling’s angry phone calls to Boston radio stations regarding his relationship with Pedro Martinez (regarding whether they get along amicably or not). My point is that Schilling is a wind bag who is willing to rant and rave about his opinions to anyone who will listen, particularly if they have a microphone, tape recorder, or video camera, regardless of whether he really knows what he’s talking about or not. That has always turned me off of him.

However, last night’s performance, with a bloody ankle from the outset, was nothing short of amazing. Should the Red Sox go on to win the Series tonight, Schilling’s performance last night will likely go down in baseball lore like Willis Reed’s hobbled performance did for the Knicks in game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals. Granted, Reed’s feat was performed in the ultimate game of the ultimate series at the NBA level, while Schilling’s took place in the penultimate game of the ALCS – one full round plus a game in front of the ultimate final. Still, Schilling’s outing likely carried as much meaning. It forced a deciding game against the Yankees, and if the Red Sox defeat the Yankees in the ALCS it will carry nearly as much weight as if they are able to win their first World Series title since 1918 (although I find it hard to believe that the Red Sox won’t win the title if they overcome the Yankees tonight).

On a completely different note, Jeff Kent has also drawn much of my ire over the years. Yes, he was a great player for the Giants, and even arguably deserved the MVP award that he stole from Barry Bonds. My gripe with Kent is the talk that he’s done in the media over the years about how he’d prefer to be on his farm instead of playing baseball and that he doesn’t appreciate or know much of the history of the game. Yes, I know that most ballplayers don’t love and care about the game as much as I do. That’s fine. But since my interest in the game, and the interest of millions of other people, allows these ballplayers to earn millions of dollars per year (or about $90,000 per game, like Sammy Sosa), they should at least put up the illusion that they care about the game (or just avoid the subject all together). Actually, I think that should be a part of the standard player’s contract – they should be obligated to keep the fans believing that they care about the game as much as the fans do.

Kent’s celebration Monday night after he hit his walk off home run to win Game Five for the Astros helped me to change my mind though. He actually seemed jubilant and he most definitely seemed to care. His helmet flip as he came around third base looked eerily like David Ortiz’s from the night before, but it was still a fun scene to watch. I just hope that we see more scenes like that out of Kent – and all the others – and fewer interviews expressing wishes that “I’d rather be on the farm.”

Yankees – Red Sox Game 7 Prediction
Honestly, I have no idea what is going to happen tonight. If the Red Sox win, it will certainly be historic. The Red Sox have never knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs, and doing so will likely give them a lift that will carry them to a World Series title, or will take so much out of them that they will fall apart in the Series. If the Yankees lose, we’re likely to see an implosion of some sort from the Bronx/Tampa this offseason. A lineup shake-up is a lock and a change in leadership (Torre, Cashman, etc) is not out of the question. A loss tonight almost certainly cements Carlos Beltran’s matriculation to the Yankees. It might also lock up Pedro Martinez and/or Carl Pavano.

If the Red Sox don’t win tonight though, I may give up hope that they’ll ever defeat the Yankees or win the World Series in my lifetime.


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