No getting away from it: There is too much baseball. When the spring training game is over the international one follows, and afterward there is an interview with a disgraced player at pains to convey contrition. By the time the season starts, it has already been on for months. All the games and players start to look and sound the same.
The greater part of Schilling's charm, though, and the reason why there were probably even more who revered him than despised him, was that he earned the right to every loud boast and delusional pose with fantastic performances. Throwing his huge chainsaw of a fastball for the Arizona Diamondbacks, he did as much as anyone else to
To just key in on October, though, is to lend credence to the idea that Schilling was little more than a slightly better version of vintage aces such as
Take him against the irreproachable
Marichal's most obvious advantage, for instance, is pitching three times as many complete games as Schilling, but there's a good case to be made that Schilling was the stronger horse. Marichal led the league in complete games twice and finished second four times. Schilling led the league four times and ranked second another three. One man pitched in a low-scoring era in which games moved along quickly, the other during a hitter's era in which television ads had slowed the pace of the game down by half.
This makes an enormous difference in the raw numbers -- including Marichal's win total, which is largely a function of his having finished more games -- but relative to their peers, Schilling was more impressive. The same is true of their ERAs. Marichal's advantage of more than a half run per game evaporates when you consider that the
There are other arguments for Schilling -- he retired as the modern leader in strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.38), for one -- but in the end, to make them probably misses the point. What matters about him most is that he was memorable, that he stood out from the gray anonymous hordes not only for how well he played but also for the way he played.
At times, in its modern industrial form, baseball can fit