The day after the New York Yankees won their 27th championship — with the icing being that Pedro Martinez was the losing pitcher — you had to figure Curt Schilling would have an opinion on the matter.
And just as he did when he personally “shut up 55,000 New Yorkers” five years ago, the former Red Sox ace delivered, sharing his opinion on a variety of baseball matters while speaking with the hosts of WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan” show this morning.
Schilling, who revealed that he did consider pitching this season, was particularly candid when it came to the performance of Martinez, his former teammate who allowed four runs in four innings in the Phillies’ 7-3 loss in Game 6.
“He was going to have issues,” Schilling said when asked if he knew before the game that Martinez would struggle facing the deep Yankees lineup for the second time in the World Series. It’s such as tough time for a guy who has become more of a contact pitcher to keep things down. Obviously, he didn’t have anything last night. And it was a struggle.”
Schilling, who didn’t always get along with Martinez during their one season as teammates (2004), expounded on the source of whatever animosity they may have had for each other.
“I’ve played with a couple of guys in my life that were first-ballot Hall of Famers, Pedro being one of them,” Schilling said. “And he wasn’t a player that etched that Hall of Fame monument when I played with him. But as a player, you see that funny-ha-ha stuff and the from-the-heart stuff in a different light [because] you’re living with these guys every day. And there are things that happen behind the scenes that aren’t fun and cool. And you watch people that you care about and people that you know respect the game get disrespected.
“You guys remember, when Pedro was here, Pedro played by different rules,” Schilling added. “And Pedro, to a degree, earned the right to play by different rules. But players that play by different rules and take advantage of those, that’s probably the only reason I ever had issues with Pedro. And it was not a big deal, I know people are going to make it a bigger deal than I’m making it. But the amount of respect and admiration and the loyalty and friendship I have with [Terry Francona] . . . I saw some things, from Opening Day leaving the ballpark in Tito’s first game here. There’s just little, crappy dumb stuff. But you know what, you never questioned the guy’s heart and commitment and the fact that he was going to leave it on the field every fifth day. As a teammate, that’s all I ever asked from anybody.”
Schilling said he completely understands why Martinez chose to sign with the Phillies during the season and continue a career in which there isn’t much left to accomplish.
“I was asked that question a lot of times [when I retired],” Schilling said. “It’s a no-brainer for me. But I can totally understand how it can be a no-brainer in the other direction. ‘OK, what do you want to do next year?’ ‘Well, let’s see, I can go play professional baseball, and travel around the world on charter flights, and get paid 5 or 6 million a year to play in big league stadiums, or I can go sit under the mango tree. Having the choice, I made my choice and thank God I had the ability to make the choice I wanted to make. He does, too. If he wants to play, so what?
“. . . He went to the best team in the worst league. . . . If he could do that again next year, why wouldn’t he do that again?”
Schilling said he felt like he could have made a successful return to the mound this season much in the manner Martinez did, but found his heart wasn’t in it anymore.
“The one scenario I possibly had contemplated was coming back for the second half of this year and pitching,” he said. “What I realized early in the year was I could pitch again and I could be better than I was in ’07. I had to sit down and kind of go through the mental checklist at home. And there were no checks in the ‘for’ box. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to. I was laughing because I was sitting around thinking about, ‘Jeez, I don’t want to go out in the middle of the season and work to get a job for a team if no one needs pitching,’ and it turned out in the middle of the season every team I ever played for needed pitching. Once Pedro signed in Philadelphia, I thought, ‘That’s cool.’ It played out perfectly. It was good to see him do that.”
Knowing his audience, Schilling couldn’t resist taking a few jabs at the Yankees.
“Oh, let’s all cheer up because A-Rod’s come full circle now. He’s got his ring, he’s complete, blah, blah, blah, whatever. Listen, they’re used to it, and they have to accept the fact that no one outside New York is even remotely happy today. OK, the Yankees won. Move on. When does spring training start? When do we sign free agents?
“. . . I love to see Mariano Rivera, I’m a fan. And Eric Hinske as well. So, it’s a personal thing for me. I think for players maybe. I don’t know that I’m really friends with anybody in my life that wants any team in New York to ever win anything.”