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The Mouth that Soared

March 30, 2009
March 30, 2009

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March 30, 2009

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The Mouth that Soared

A late-blooming, loquacious control freak calls it quits

IF HE makes one,Curt Schilling's Hall of Fame acceptance speech will be a filibuster ofunprecedented proportions. Whether with his mouth or his arm, whether you lovedor loathed him (even teammates fell into both camps), Schilling made you payattention. Appropriately, he blogged his own retirement on Monday.

This is an article from the March 30, 2009 issue

With 216 wins,Schilling is a borderline Cooperstown candidate who two months ago admitted,"I don't think I deserve to be in the Hall of Fame." At the age of 30,after 10 years in the big leagues, he had a 69--63 record. But his seconddecade was a stunning ascent to greatness. He went 147--83, including an apexwith Arizona in 2001 and '02 when, including the postseason, he was 49--13 andthrew a whopping 5711/3 innings.

What set Schillingapart, other than calling out Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, owners,sportswriters and whoever else irked him, was freakish control for a powerpitcher and brilliance in the clutch. Of the 87 pitchers with 200 wins since1901, Schilling owns the best strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.38), comfortably aheadof Pedro Martinez (4.14) and Cy Young (3.78), who rank second and third.

In the postseasonSchilling earned a reputation that put him among Christy Mathewson, Bob Gibson,Sandy Koufax and John Smoltz on the short list of the best big-game pitchers.Schilling went 11--2 with a 2.23 ERA; the Phillies, Diamondbacks and Red Soxwere 14--5 in playoff games when they gave him the ball, and they won threeworld championships. His tour de force was the "bloody sock" victory inGame 6 of the 2004 ALCS. With a torn tendon in his right ankle: seven innings,one run, no walks in an elimination game at Yankee Stadium.

One of the raretimes Schilling did not rise to the occasion was his timid testimony at the2005 congressional hearings on steroids in baseball. Rest assured, though, theman Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow called "a horse's ass" will not goquietly into retirement or Cooperstown.

Go Figure

0
Times Cuba had failed to reach the final in its last 50 major internationalbaseball events before a loss to Japan in the WBC quarterfinals.

2
Turnovers by the Cavs in a win over the Blazers last Thursday, tying the NBArecord for fewest in a game set by the Bucks in '06.

30,875
Square footage of a seven-bedroom, nine-bath home Derek Jeter is building on anisland in Tampa.

26,000
Average square footage of a Barnes & Noble.

553
Wins for Martin Brodeur (SI, March 16), who passed Patrick Roy as the NHL'swinningest goalie on March 17.

PHOTOPAUL J. BERESWILL/KRT/ABACABLOODY GOOD Schilling's 2004 ALCS gem sealed his reputation as a big-game ace.