Friday, November 12, 2004

I had a great evening last night with my friends Bismo and The Hey . We got together to toast the World Champion Boston Red Sox at a local pub. A very nice place, too. It’s called Stones Public House and it’s in an 1830’s vintage building by the railroad tracks in Ashland, MA. It’s a very comfortable place with good food and good beer. The place is also reputed to be haunted, which just adds to the fun.

One of the things we talked about was where Curt Schilling’s post-season performance puts him in the pantheon of Boston sports legends. The way I see it, there are four guys at the very top: Bill Russell, Bobby Orr, Larry Bird and Ted Williams. These four guys were at the top of their sports for extended periods of time and spent virtually all of their playing careers in Boston. The only guy around now who has a chance to join this group is Tom Brady. He’s certainly got the performance and championship credentials, but hasn’t been playing long enough.

Does Schilling fit in with that group? No. If he had played most of his career in Boston and capped it with his performance in the post-season, I would say absolutely yes. But this was a one year thing.

Schilling going out and pitching with a tendon in his ankle stitched to his leg ranks as one of the gutsiest performances in sports history. The Red Sox probably would not have beaten the Yankees and not won the World Series without him. He also had one of the great single seasons ever from a Boston pitcher, finishing second in the Cy Young voting and winning 21 games. He came here to help break the curse, and he did it. Curt Schilling talked the talk and then he walked the walk and I salute him for that. However, it doesn’t, for me, put him up there with Russell, Orr, Bird and Ted.

Curt Schilling’s absolute opposite is Ron Artest of the Indiana Pacers. Artest recently told his coach, Rick Carlisle that he needed to take a month off because he was “tired” from getting ready to release a new album for his record label. And he doesn’t seem to understand why this is a problem! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when this news reached Larry Bird’s ears (Bird is now the Pacers president). Bird, who was the poster boy for a great work ethic when he was a player, must be beside himself. If Ron Artest wants to be a record producer, good. Go ahead. But don’t do it on the Pacers time, and don’t let your teammates down.

Of course, this may all be a clever publicity stunt on Artest’s part. After all, I’ve heard the release date of this album mentioned about a hundred times since this all blew up in the media. But somehow, I don’t think so. I really think this guy is so selfish and so self-absorbed that he doesn’t even realize he’s doing anything wrong.

Behavior like Artest’s is a big part of the reason I don’t really watch the NBA anymore. Selfish players, too much one on one play, too much hacking and not enough scoring have really made the pro game tough to watch.


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