EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 25, 2008

Please, Curt, just retire


Bill Burt

Let me repeat myself:

It all started with Curt Schilling.

More than anyone, he showed New England that "The Curse" was nothing more than a pitching problem.

Schilling was a late bloomer, enjoying his best years in his mid-to-late 30s (164 of his 216 wins came after he turned 30), which included three second-place finishes in the Cy Young Award voting.

And his postseason numbers — 11-2, 2.23 ERA — when you add it to World Series rings, will make him a Hall of Famer. Eventually.

That officially ends my massage session.

Schilling, through his doctor, told the Boston Herald that the pitcher's shoulder surgery Monday "was better than expected."

Apparently, there was no tear of the rotator cuff, which was feared. Dr. Craig Morgan said that the Sox pitcher would need at least 12 months of rest and then rehab.

The pretty much gets us to the All-Star game in 2009, when teams will be looking for that guy to put them over the top.

Schilling would be four months shy of his 43rd birthday. And who knows if the rehab, especially the strengthening of his throwing muscles, won't take another month or two beyond the year.

To steal a line from Stoneham's own Nancy Kerrigan: Why?

Is there a team out there which would pay Schilling $1 million a month in a playoff run?

Absolutely.

After his disastrous 21/2 months in Boston in 2007, Eric Gagne received a one-year, $10 million contract from the Brewers.

Nonetheless, the only planning Schilling should do is for his goodbye press conference. Tears will be flowing for that one.

Schilling has been more than complimentary of the Red Sox. He has used the word "privilege" on several occasions, basically saying this four-year pit stop changed his life in ways he never imagined.

Even if Schilling were able to come back, he is a six-inning starter at best. And I mean at absolute best. His strikeout-per-inning ratio, which was 1.04 from 1997-2006, plummeted to .67-to-1 last year (101 Ks in 151 innings).

And as we saw when the Sox gave him a weight clause in his current deal, he's not getting any thinner.

After making $114 million in salary alone during his career, money isn't a factor.

Ego probably is. It is tough let go. Just ask ex-Green Bay Packer Brett Favre, who battled the retirement bug for two years before finally pulling the trigger this offseason.

Schilling has other interests. He owns a thriving video game business, 38 Studios, based out of Maynard, Mass. He probably has a career in politics, if he wants. He has opinions on everything.

And he and his wife, Shonda, do as much for local and national charities as any athlete in Boston. While his mouth might be off target sometimes, his heart is in the right place.

But those nice qualities are getting us off point, which is his retirement party.

There will be some writers who will hold his "paltry" 216 wins against him come Hall of Fame voting time, but winning championships and performing in the clutch seem to be more important than they used to be, which will help Schilling.

But that doesn't matter.

If Schilling did decide to return for one for playoff push, it wouldn't be here. There is simply too much young pitching talent.

Schilling's time is up. It's time to say "goodbye." He has nothing left to prove. His last start, the record would show, was a Game 2 World Series victory, at Fenway Park.

That's going out on top.

E-mail Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

Not needed?

Curt Schilling would be pushing 43 by the time he's healthy next year. Boston already has strong core of talented young starters:

Name%Current Age%Comment

Josh Beckett%28%Among baseball's best

Daisuke Matsuzaka%27%Likely All-Star

Jon Lester%24%6-3, 3.13 ERA says it all

Clay Buchholz%23%Only lacks consistency

Justin Masterson%23%The surprise of 2008