Thursday, February 05, 2004

Curt Schilling Speaks and the Optimist Listens... 

Steve's Mariner Wheelhouse has done a great service to Mariner baseball fans by pointing us to Curt Schilling's personal Q&A thread, "Let's talk baseball, real baseball" on the Red Sox discussion forum Sons of Sam Horn. If you haven't done so, bookmark this thread and look for updates daily. It is fascinating to read the thoughts of a fantastic baseball player on everything from how to pitch Tony Gwynn (pitch away, field away), to whether the best teams win the World Series (they do) and his opinion on agents like Scott Boras (bad for baseball).

Updated because there is a flap between Sons of Sam Horn and other sites over quoting this material, so I have removed all Schilling quotes until I receive permission from SoSH to use such

On agents:
Understand one thing, the player ALWAYS, ALWAYS, has 100% say in every single matter regarding ANY issues the agent is HIRED to oversee.
But I think at some point there becomes zero need to have an agent represent you. At some point you know the market, if you have an ounce of integrity, pride, you know your place in that market, you know your worth within the sport.
I have never liked Scott Boras, nor anything he's done. He represents alot of players I respect and love to watch play, but I don't think he does the game any service in any way. Anyone think JD Drew was better off sitting out for a full year of professional baseball? I'm not sure what JD thinks but I wonder if he'd do it differently given another chance
Agents are the ONLY people in baseball that take from the game, and give nothing back. There may be the odd case in which this might not fit, but I haven't seen it. I haven't seen any agent, or agency, opening up inner city youth programs, helping underpriveleged kids get baseball gear, etc.

Agents have their place (youngsters), but real men don't use them.

On being "co-ace" with Randy Johnson:
First off it was not a co-ace situation, RJ has 4 Cy youngs, I have none, he was the ace and I was more than ok with being a "#2 guy" to him.

Very nice hats off to the Big Unit.

On catchers:
Since the first day of my career, with Bob Melvin catching me, I have never cared what a catcher hits, as long as he makes me think that his calling of a game is as important to him as pitching it is to me.
And this is why Dan Wilson is a 10-and-5 man

On team chemistry:
Does it lead to more wins, or a more desirable working environment? Yes
How does a team gel? Combination of winning and good people
Is it solely by winning games, or is it more based on the personalities of the veterans on the team? Both
Do teams that are composed of players that came up through the same system together have an advantage in this regard? I think it's a disadvantage
Do you think it is common for a team to underachieve b/c they lack a good clubhouse environment? Absolutely

Interesting that being in same system is a disadvantage to a team gelling. But good people are important, and not just stats. See 2001.

On what makes a good manager:
I just want a guy that makes his players want to win, for him. Ever have a situation where you wanted to do something, achieve something, for someone else, because their opinion of you mattered that much? I've played for managers like that, who's approval was only behind that of my teammates when all was said and done, those guys manage winners, consistently.

He loved Melvin as a catcher, I wonder how he'd feel about him as a manager?

On interleague play:
I still think it sucks, and it's horribly flawed.
Affects the playoffs and that's bad.

On Rob Neyer:
Stats have their applications in the game, no one knows that more than me, but a media guy who's writing career is pretty much founded on these new stats and has a legion of followers, a guy like Neyer on ESPN, I tend to have more dislikes, than likes of.

Personally, I love reading Rob Neyer (moreso when it was new), and I think statistical analysis has a place in baseball. But sabermetrics should not be the foundation of all baseball knowledge. You can't take away the people from the equation.

On sabermetrics in general:
So yes, stats have a place, but they don't come close to painting the whole picture of any one player IMO. When someone, and there were alot of someones in Philly at that time, wrote something that was durogatory about Kevin Jordan, you know the kinda thing like "Jordan could be released, he's just taking up a spot on the bench and roster right now" I got bothered, and still do, because neither success nor failure can be summed up that easily.

So the next time you dismiss a move made by M's management on purely statistical reasons, try to think why the move might have been made from a human and team-building standpoint, as opposed to a straight statistical swap. That's part of being a Mariner Optimist.

Will the Curt Schilling directly to the people phenomenon catch on with the Mariners? We can only hope. I would love to see Bret Boone start his own blog, or join in one of the chat forums. Now, that's entertainment!

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