Curt Schilling is a busy man.
On top of preparing to step into his 20th season in the major leagues next week, the Red Sox pitcher is monitoring his multi-million dollar gaming company, 38 Studios, while also emerging as one of the most expansive baseball bloggers in the Red Sox-following Internet community. (The Wednesday post on his blog, "www.38pitches.com," totaled 5,191 words.)
Then there is the contract.
As the final days of spring training go by the board, Schilling draws closer to his self-imposed deadline to reach an agreement with the Red Sox for an extension past this season. He had made it clear that if his asking price ($13 million for one year) isn't met by Boston, the pitcher will file for free agency at season's end. This is what he has told the Sox.
Again ... this is what he told the Sox. Nobody else but Schilling. And that's the way he likes it.
"At the end of the day, nobody - as much as you like to believe it to be otherwise and as close as you are to your agents - is going to look out for your interests more than you," said Schilling, who has served as his own agent since parting ways with his former representatives at Beverly Hills Sports Council prior to signing a three-year, $32 million deal with Arizona heading into the 2002 season.
"Once I realized that nobody is going to represent me with my exclusive interests 100 percent at heart it became an easy thing to do."
Has saved himself millions
Schilling has now constructed two major contracts since going off on his own, the one with the Diamondbacks and then the three-year deal with Boston. This season was an added year he earned when the Sox won the 2004 World Series. That was a clause he negotiated into the contract.
And now he finds himself back at the table, going solo by choice.
For Schilling, saving the five percent (before taxes) service fee is only part of the perks that come with representing himself. There is also the peace of mind he said comes with taking care of business on his own terms.
"Agents are supposed to represent you in contract negotiations, handle all of your marketing, all of your public relations, and everything you do off the field, all for five percent," he said.
"That number became a challenge for me in '97 because I knew, in the ballpark, where my contract was going to end up, so I had to weigh that five percent. For a $24 million deal, I would be paying them $1.2 million and does their service justify that?
"At some point in your career, you're going to know what you're worth, and paying somebody that kind of money doesn't make sense. I think you have to be ready for it and you have to be able to handle it. You're going to hear things that are going to (upset you). Once you understand the process it's easy: They are going to try and sign you to the cheapest possible amount without making you realize that. Some guys are better at it than others, but I have never had an issue with getting my feelings hurt."
'Simple and painless'
Since heading out on his own, Schilling's dealings - first with Arizona owner Jerry Colangelo and then with Boston general manager Theo Epstein - have gone off without too many hitches.
"It was simple and painless for this reason: I was not going to be at the top of the market in what I was looking to get, and I knew my owner was going to be fair," said the hurler of his dealings with the Diamondbacks. "Mr. Colangelo came in and said 'I'm going to pay you this and you'd better win.'
"The last contract with Theo, a lot of things went into it, having to move across country and everything. I felt comfortable because I knew the number I was going to settle for. And it wasn't a take-it-or-leave-it type of confrontational (tone). But more like, 'This is what I want and if you can't pay it, then that's cool, it's not going to happen.'"
Having control over his negotiations suits Schilling fine. He notes situations such as the time agent Drew Rosenhaus stood in a driveway and spoke to a throng of reporters for his client Terrell Owens while the wide receiver stood idly by.
"Those are the ones you cringe at," Schilling said. "It's embarrassing for everybody. You're a grown man, talk for yourself."
While still employing the Beverly Hills Sports Council (many of whom were in the pitcher's wedding party), he was privy to information from third-party communication.
"I've been in situations in the past where people lie. Agents lie. General managers lie. And everybody is lying for their own interest, and I'm sure that is not exclusive to my situation," Schilling said. "I talked to a GM who my agent was saying X, Y and Z. I went to my agent and said, 'If you're saying X, Y and Z, then I'm going to fire you.'
"So then I actually had the GM and agent on the phone and the GM didn't know I was on the line and he lied. I came out of the phone call, went over to him, and said, 'You lied!' There's a lot more to it on both sides.
"The other huge problem is that when you're dealing in contracts, you are talking about millions and millions of dollars, which people can't relate to. So when you have an agent come out and say, 'This is a disrespectful thing, blah, blah, blah.' Saying that a disrespectful thing is a $42 million offer ... people don't relate to that. People also don't say that the agent is an idiot, they say that player is greedy. They never associate the comment with the agent, they always put it on the player."
As many benefits as Schilling has reaped acting has his own agent, there are certainly challenges.
"You have to be comfortable with yourself, because you're literally sitting in a room telling people to pay you 'X' because that's what you're worth. To some degree, it's uncomfortable because who is worth $13 million a year? Nobody I know," he said. "But in the context of what you're doing, it is relevant, and that's the hard thing. That's the thing you have to get past."
So is he surprised more players aren't going this route?
"Yeah. In this day and age, absolutely," said Schilling, who is aided by his long-time lawyer, Ed Hayes. "I think you absolutely need agents once you get into arbitration because there is a lot of work to be done. I don't have a college education so that certainly isn't a prerequisite for doing it. But I think there comes a point in time when you might realize what the next contract is going to be, so why wouldn't you do that?"
Rob Bradford is an Eagle-Tribune sportswriter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Agent's View: Representing yourself is a big mistake
One high-profile baseball agent, speaking on condition of anonymity, gives his take on why having representation is important:
"Aside from the management side for the players' careers, it's just about understanding the market value. You can't underestimate the value of a solid agent. A good agent more than earns his percentage on a contract because he's maximizing the player's value through understandings the market, analyzing the market, and the relationships he has developed with the GMs and the assistant GMs.
"The player might think he knows everything about baseball, but his profession is the skill of playing and it's not really understanding the market and all the intricacies. Instead of going to law school, they went to baseball school.
"A GM is definitely going to lick their chops when they see a player come in without skilled representation on their behalf. There is slight nuances in contract structure that could have a significant impact on the true value of a contract. I'm not saying a player is not capable, but in my experiences I have yet to meet that person.
"Ultimately they think they can do the job that the agent does because they want to save in paying an agent's fee. At the end of the day, they end up costing themselves more money than they end up saving.
It's like the guy who tries to do the plumbing at home when the pipes bursts and he doesn't want to pay a plumber to fix it. Now the whole house is flooded and it's going to cost him 10 times as much. It's pretty much the same scenario. You've got to hire the right professional for the right job.
"(The players) think they know the game better than anybody, so why should they hire somebody to tell them how good they are? But they might have a complete misconception of what their value is in the market because the ego of a professional athlete can perhaps alter their judgment."
Bruschi and others do it, too
Curt Schilling isn't the only athlete to represent himself. Others include:
Veterans like Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin, Seattle SuperSonics All-Star Ray Allen, Patriots three-time Super Bowl champion linebacker Tedy Bruschi and Detroit Tigers slugger Gary Sheffield.
And youngsters like 25-year-old Tampa Bay outfielder Rocco Baldelli, who worked out a three-year, $9 million deal prior to the '06 season.
And it was Schilling's former teammate in Philadelphia, Lenny Dykstra, who first convinced the pitcher that acting alone, with the help of a lawyer for the sake of reviewing some of the legal ramifications, might be a wise move.