To Curt Schilling, no endeavor is appealing unless "I have a chance to be better than anyone else in the world." Run a marathon? Forget it. The idea of being halfway through a course when the winner crosses the finishes line, he said, holds no interest for him.
This need to set himself not simply apart from others but in front of them drove him to be an All-Star pitcher with the greatest strikeout-to-walk ratio since the pitching distance was set at 60 and one half feet, as well as an All-Star interview. The beauty of Schilling was that he could put a fastball or a zinger exactly where he wanted it, as expertly as anyone in the world, and he knew it.
"Most guys who don't like me," he said, "are either Democrats or Yankee fans. I'm not a bad guy."
Next Tuesday the reality of Schilling being Schilling -- that is, driven to be the best and unafraid to speak of it -- enters a whole new arena with the release of
To listen to Schilling being Schilling, he could be on the verge of the equivalent of an expansion franchise assembling the '27 Yankees in its first season. He wants
"I absolutely think it can be," Schilling said. "People in the industry will laugh out loud at that. But I want it to be that big. I want it to even bigger so it's not just a single game but an intellectual creation, like a
Star Wars? Schilling can hear you chuckling all the way from his Providence office.
"It's no different than making 50,000 Yankees fans shut up," Schilling said. "I believe in the talent of these guys. I like the thought that my last game in the big leagues was a World Series win and the first game in my new life can be the equivalent of the same thing.
"I think it will be a contender for game of the year. Five or six years ago this was viewed as a vanity project. But I've had a lifetime of Yankee fans' insults to prepare me. I've got thick skin."
Schilling often uses sports metaphors in running 38 Studios. Indeed, he uses them so often around the office that he knows he prompts "eye-rolling every time." The launch of the game, for instance, reminds him of being "excited and nervous and anxious" on the walk from the bullpen to the pitching mound for a start, but simultaneously confident of success because of the preparation.
The teamwork required for a successful game, too, reminds him of what is required for a winning baseball team.
"I played on teams with 24 guys pulling the rope one way and one guy pulling the other," he said. "I've seen how destructive it can be. I tell them, 'If 13 of you are insanely successful and one fails, we all lose.' In this I-me society, my job is to get people to buy into something bigger than themselves. You become more successful when everybody buys into this."
Schilling founded his game company in October of 2006, not long after he flew into Fort Myers, Fla., five fellow gamers he met online. Those five gamers became his first employees of Green Monster Games, which soon was renamed 38 Studios. His interest in role-playing games goes back to the 1990s when he was absorbed in MMO games (massively multiplayer games) such as
"I saw guys that were the lead story on ESPN for being in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said. "I was in my room playing MMO. One of reasons you read about me was my mouth. Ask me a question about baseball and I'm not a Yes-No guy. I was in the news for things other than pitching, but that's because I said things you either agreed with or disagreed with. I'm still married to the same lovely woman and have four incredible kids."
Schilling hasn't toned down his opinions as the owner of 38 Studios any more than he did as the iconoclast of the mound. Want proof? Here is Schilling on:
"A great example is how the hell is Jeff Bagwell not in? He's on the short list of guys [writers] associated with [steroids], but his name never came up."
"Wait, you said [for years] that you never did it? Now [you say] you did? It's the Pete Rose defense. And you got caught the first time you did it? And how about when you [actually] started? That's a whole other conversation. It's just very black and white: They got caught doing it, they're out. Unfortunately, some of my friends and teammates are on that list and it makes me disappointed they made that decision. It doesn't make me like them less. Now, Barry Bonds? How can you even remotely consider that guy a nice guy?"
"Talk to [former NFL and MLB players] Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan. They'll tell you the grind of a baseball is way harder [than football] because of the grind of the season. So yes, [a steroid regimen] did help you produce."
"He's going to be challenged. I don't care that he's [managed] in New York. This is Boston. The Yankees and Red Sox are different than anywhere else in the world. The expectations are World Series or bust."
"That being said, there is no reason why this team shouldn't win. If they don't win or do well it will be as much about Tampa Bay and New York doing well."
You'll be hearing and seeing more of Schilling being Schilling in the next week. He is booked to cut a swath through Super Bowl Radio Row in Indianapolis and to make various network and cable television appearances. Feel free, as always, to agree or disagree with what he has to say. But this much is unmistakable: Schilling has conquered that often murky, purgatorial period when former athletes must decide what to do with the rest of their lives after the cheering stops. Schilling, just as he did when he had a baseball in his hands, is doing exactly what he wants to be doing and, especially come Tuesday, still expects to better than everybody else.
"I'm here every morning at seven, seven-thirty, taking care of business," he said from his office. "I'm 45 now, and am blessed never to have had to work a day in my life."