Interview Date: July 25, 2015
The blood of the Gods. In baseball, these are only a handful of men that are remembered for the blood they gave to the game. Elmer Gedeon and Harry O’Neill. Nolan Ryan wiping it from his chin. Bryce Harper playing as blood streams down his face. And then there is the ultimate image of ichor dripping down to remind us that our baseball Gods are, in reality, just men.
Curt Schilling is one of the greatest pitchers to ever run his fingers along the stitches of a baseball. He is best remembered as a Boston Red Sox great. Many others remember his years with the Diamondbacks and Phillies. A few can remember the questionable rookie that came up for the Orioles. But for one lackluster year, that immortal played for the Houston Astros.
The Astros thought they saw something special in the Baltimore rookie, but most fans disagreed. He was brought to the team by sacrificing Glenn Davis, one of the all-time most beloved Astros. Fans complained that Schilling was overweight, lazy, and not worth the cost of losing a hitting machine. The unfortunate fate of Davis is the stuff of Baltimore lore, but Schilling was a different story.
“I remember a few things about my time with the Astros. First, they asked me if I wanted to start or close on the day of the trade. I also remember the incredible amount of talent on that team. Biggio, Bagwell, Harnisch, Finley. Sadly, I mostly remember the empty Astrodome.” It was a sad state when Schilling showed up. Only two teams had lower attendance, Montreal and Cleveland. They were on the verge of reigniting the flames, but Schilling was never going to give his blood to this team.
Management knew that he had potential, but he was not giving that potential to them. So they traded him away for Jason Grimsley, who never played a single game for the Astros. “They didn’t think I was going to amount to much. But it taught me one important thing: it made me appreciate playing in front of large crowds when it finally happened. I still remain friends with Bob Watson and make sure to tell him ‘Worst trade ever!’ when we meet up, but honestly, I hold almost no opinion about Houston one way or the other.”
His opinions are not surprising. Schilling has made a reputation as a polarizing figure in sports. He is a man that leaves a large wake in his path and it has gotten him into trouble. An entire state has sued him. ESPN fired him. Even a large number of Red Sox fans hesitate to speak his name positively.
But in the end, he is a baseball immortal. He is, almost without question, the greatest postseason pitcher of all time. He pitched one of the most unbelievable postseason games ever, as blood slowly filled his sock. He gave his ichor to this game and every Houston fan must ask themselves one thing:
“If he had just stayed, would that blood have belonged to us?”