A contrite Curt Schilling today issued a public apology for his scathing comments on Giants slugger Barry Bonds, writing on his blog that it was “absolutely irresponsible and wrong to say what I did.”
“Everyone has days and events in life they’d love to push the rewind button on, yesterday was one of those days,” Schilling’s blog entry began. “Regardless of my opinions, thoughts and beliefs on anything Barry Bonds it was absolutely irresponsible and wrong to say what I did. I don’t think it’s within anyone’s right to say the things I said yesterday and affect other peoples lives in that way.”
In response to a question about Bonds’s pursuit of Hank Aaron’s home run record during a radio interview on WEEI yesterday, Schilling said Bonds “admitted that he used steroids” and to “cheating on his wife, cheating on his taxes, and cheating on the game.” He added, “I don’t care that he’s black, or green, or purple, or yellow, or whatever. It’s unfortunate… there’s good people and bad people. It’s unfortunate that it’s happening the way it’s happening.”
The harsh criticism got national attention, and has been fodder for reporters, radio talk show callers, bloggers, and Internet message board posters over the last 24 hours.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona today said he thought Schilling should “zip it a little bit.” This afternoon, Schilling did that and more, apologizing to “Barry, Barry’s family, Barry’s friends and the Giants organization, my teammates and the Red Sox organization as well as anyone else that may have been offended.”
Asked whether he would apologize directly to Bonds, Schilling said he would not, according to the Globe's Nick Cafardo. Schilling felt the message would get to Bonds.
Schilling cited the early hour of the interview in his apology, though he didn’t use it as an excuse.
“I’d love to tell you I was ambushed, misquoted, misinterpreted, something other than what it was, but I wasn’t,” Schilling wrote. “I’m thinking that waking up at 8:30 am to do the weekly interview we do with WEEI is probably not the greatest format and if you heard the interview it’s not hard to realize that I’m usually awake about 30-45 seconds before it begins. That’s still no excuse or reason to say what I did, or even answer the question that was asked.”
Schilling wasn’t the only one who thought his comments were out of order.
Former player Jose Canseco, whose book "Juiced" played a big part in outing steroid use among baseball players, today criticized Schilling for his stance on Bonds, saying in an interview on ESPN that the Red Sox pitcher is “a hypocrite and a liar on top of that.”
Canseco alleged that Schilling lied during the steroid hearings before Congress in 2005. During the hearings, Schilling called Canseco "a liar," blasted him for writing his book, and said "In 19 years in the big leagues, I have never seen a syringe."
“He’s your typical hypocrite, he’s your typical politician,” Canseco said today. “That’s what they do. They’re liars, they just don’t answer questions properly, and they have this arrogance about them.”
Earlier in the day, Francona said in a radio interview on WEEI that Schilling was better off steering clear of the Bonds topic.
Host Michael Holley asked the Sox manager, “Would you suggest, on a topic as polarizing as this one, Barry Bonds, would you suggest that your players just kind of dance around it?”
“Or shut up,” Francona deadpanned.
“Yeah, I actually talked to Schill yesterday about it, and you know again, he’s never been short on opinions, and so many of them are insightful, I just thought this was an area where you’re better off just leaving it alone. And he didn’t," Francona said. "And you know again, the problem is, it makes it tough for me, is that he comes to the ballpark and doesn’t talk to the media so I’m left to kind of clean up the mess which I really don’t feel like, but, again, I’ve been with Schill a long time. Nobody’s more crazy about Schill than me. I just ask him to kind of zip it a little bit, and I think he will.”
Yesterday’s comments didn’t mark the first time Schilling has called out Bonds in the media.
"Barry Bonds is a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Schilling said in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle in September 2000. "I'd vote for him every day of the week and twice on Sundays, but when he retires, he's still going to be the biggest ass -- who ever lived. Ask his teammates. Ask anyone on their team or in their clubhouse. He is who he is."
Bonds fired back ...
``He has an attitude toward me, and I'm not a Curt Schilling fan,'' Bonds said in the Chronicle article. ``He's one of the best power pitchers in baseball. That I will always have respect for. I have no disrespect for the guy, and I don't really dislike the guy. I'm just not a fan of his, because when you're supposed to be friends, you're supposed to be friends regardless of what happens on and off the field.''
Last year, Schilling said he thinks that Bonds’s achievements during his period of alleged steroid use -- as detailed in the book “Game of Shadows” -- should be “wiped out.”
"If you get caught using steroids, you should have everything you've done in this game wiped out for any period of time that you used it," Schilling said at the time of the book’s release. "A lot of players, I think, have said as much because it is cheating."
In December 2003, Bonds told a federal grand jury that he used a clear substance and a cream supplied by BALCO, but the controversial slugger said he was told they were the nutritional supplement flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis, not steroids, according to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004.
Boston.com's Steve Silva contributed to this report.