Schill and Me. Like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Like Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump.
Cheap shots have flown back and forth. Immaturity has ruled. So many insults. So little time.
And now that the Big Lug is back in the news again -- putting a gun to the head of the Red Sox and telling them they must extend his contract before the season starts or risk losing him to free agency -- I figured it was time to write about Curt Schilling again.
Taking a rare hike on the high road, in the interest of fairness, I called the Big Guy. Threw all my suspicions at him. Asked him about being unfair to the Red Sox. Asked him about negotiating through the media. Asked him about staying in shape. Asked him about running for the Senate. Asked him about being characterized as a blowhard. Asked him about our childish feud.
Schill being Schill, he took on every question. Gave me a couple million of his thoughts. With appropriate attitude.
He said he made his unretirement announcement on his user-friendly radio show because the story was about to leak. He said he'd already discussed it with general manager Theo Epstein before talking about it on the airwaves.
Negotiating through the media?
"That's the way everything happens in this town, but they know I'm not doing that. Perception outside of the Red Sox and myself is uncontrollable for us. I've talked to Mr. Henry and Theo and we talked on this before it got public. We're all in a good place."
Why the deadline?
"It is a distraction and no one needs it and I certainly don't want it. It's clear enough on both ends. I think they want me back. If for some reason it doesn't work out, this is not me saying, 'Sign me now or else.' "
Actually, that's exactly what it is.
"Yes, if I don't sign by the end of spring training, I will become a free agent after the season's over, but it won't be 'I'll show you guys.' I'll be disappointed. But at this point in my career, if I need to jump through some hoops to get a one-year extension, then it's in their plans. I would imagine that would be the only way this wouldn't work out [would be] if they had earmarked the money for something else. I was going to be off the books. And I get that. This is not a line in the sand. There's no anger or intent or secret strategy."
Is it fair for the club to be forced to make the decision this quickly, given that you've been saying all along that you weren't coming back?
"Theo and I both understand that if all parties are in the same space, we'll get the contract done in 15 minutes."
What about the Sox wanting to take a look at a 40-year-old pitcher before committing to another year?
"Why would I do that? Why would I allow that scenario to play out? Who does that? That's not the way the game works . . . We're going to meet before spring training. I talked with Mr. Henry yesterday at length. It's not the big deal that your article, or any article, will make it."
What about the perception that you're doing this because you saw what the market was paying starting pitchers over the winter? The Royals are paying Gil Meche $11 million per season for five years.
"If I was going to use Gil Meche, or any of the market, as a comparison, then I sure as hell would be looking for a whole lot more than $13 million. Because I could get it. And I believe in my ability to go out there and win 22-23-24 games this year and be a No. 1 and walk into the market next year and find someone that'll pay me $17-18-19 million for a season. And I would leverage the Yankees."
You said you wouldn't go to the Yankees. Why take them out of the mix?
"I didn't offer that up unsolicited. Someone introduced the Yankees in the conversation and I said that was not a choice I would make. Not because I don't like the Yankees. I don't hate anyone over there. But it's not something I could do. I think it would just be, on my end, an incredibly disingenuous four years that I spent here. I couldn't do it."
Can you stay in game shape another two years?
"Absolutely. I think I've earned a certain level of respect, based on my accomplishments and my consistency. I believe that I'll be worth every penny they pay me within the scope of the game. It is harder to stay in shape, no question. It takes more work."
Will you run for the Senate?
"I don't have that much time. I've got a wife, four kids, a business, and a baseball career."
Are you a registered Republican?
"I honestly don't know what I registered as last time. I don't vote party lines. Never have. I vote for the best candidate. I voted for Bush, but I didn't agree with his platform, top to bottom."
What is the thing you like least about playing in Boston?
"The media is the hardest part of this. There's so much of it and there's a lot of bitterness and jealousy here that doesn't exist in other places. You guys have an immense impact on the ebb and flow of the fans and their take on things. It's an ingrained part of culture here. These fans are waiting to see a guy in J.D. Drew -- who they think is going to break his toe Opening Day because of everything that's been said. Because of what's been written and what's been said. It's unfair to some guys . . . I just think there's a lot of potshots taken because it is personal. You and I have never gotten along very well."
Really? I hadn't noticed.
"I think there's things that you write that are absolutely and totally unequivocally uncalled for. I think you take personal vendettas to the paper. I think you rip people in the paper because you don't like them whether they're good people or not. As an athlete, that bothers me, but as a teammate of these people, it bothers me even more . . . I certainly came in with a little bias, but I don't think that given what's happened that it's unmerited.
"As hard as it is for some people in your business to believe, I don't enjoy talking to the media. I don't look forward to being in front of you guys . . . I find it ironic how people in the media say, 'I've been pretty nice to you,' as if they've gone out of their way to write things that are nice about me as if I'm not a nice person. I'm a good person. I don't wish hateful things on people. I don't hate anybody. I know that I treat people right. I've made mistakes and I've said dumb things, but I wouldn't think people have to go to extra effort to make me out to be a nice guy.
"You don't know me beyond what you see in the clubhouse and what you've heard other people say about me. We'll never sit down and have a beer together because we both have families and we're too busy. We're going to know each other as well as a player and a member of the media know each other. And in the scope of things, that's not very deep. You've kind of got to go on what you can see and hear and what people tell you. I go on what I read."
Raw Schill. Good stuff from a man incapable of saying, "No comment."
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.