Curt Schilling has become one of the most bombastic former players ever. The former pitcher seems intent on flapping his gums and being as controversial as possible. He has become the Rush Limbaugh of ex-players. And that is just fine. It is a free country and people can say what they want. But what he recently said about his former team and the Red Sox' new manager went over the line. After all, he is only five years removed from that team and some of his former teammates still play there. Schilling just made himself the bad shoulder angel in the heads of some of his former teammates. He has thrown Bobby Valentine under the bus before the bus can even leave the parking lot.
Let's pick apart some of Schilling's statements. First, he said that baseball has changed and the manager has little to do with what happens on the field during a game. He calls them babysitters who manage personnel. Oh really? So it matters not whether a manager lets a pitcher continue when struggling? It matters not if a manager pinch hits for somebody based on match ups? This is the ultimate deconstructionism. This is a former player stating that only players matter during the outcomes of games. This is ego talking. While it is true that players will make a manager successful or unsuccessful, it does matter what decisions a manager makes during a game.
And it goes further than that. Schilling is basically stating that a manager has no effect on the team's psychology. In Schilling's world, the manager cannot "fire up" his team or make the players feel better about themselves. The manager cannot encourage his players or keep them going through hard times. All the manager does in Schilling's world is babysit players. How disrespectful can you be? In Schilling's world, player accountability is only the responsibility of the players.
Schilling goes on to state that the small details do not matter anymore and that Valentine lives in the small details. Again: Oh really? There might be just a game or two difference between four teams in the American League East. Wouldn't doing something fundamentally correct at just the right moment account for a win here or there? Couldn't that one win mean the world of difference? The Red Sox lost out on the playoffs last year by a single game. Little things do matter.
Schilling's remarks conclude that he believes the Red Sox have created an oil and water situation between the manager and his players. How can you say that before Valentine's tenure even begins? And how did the oil and oil situation work out for the Red Sox last season? What Schilling's statements have created is the opportunity for doubt in the minds of the Red Sox players. This is a guy they used to play beside. His words resonate to those teammates. If just one of these players develops a little doubt in the back of any of the players minds, Schilling has done a great disservice here to his former team.
Schilling is trying to keep himself relevant since his career ended. The former pitcher likes to be the story. As such, he enjoys making large statements that get a lot of coverage and attention. Bobby Valentine's tenure as the manager of the Red Sox will only be evaluated after the fact. That tenure does not even begin until later this week. Undercutting Bobby Valentine before the season even begins in unfair and uncalled for. Can we at least see how the season unfolds before we start criticizing Bobby Valentine?