The Will of a Winner

Before Curt Schilling pitched in the 1993 World Series, during one press conference, Manager Jim Fregosi was asked if he planned on pitching the ace "until his arm falls off". Fregosi laughed and simply said, "Probably". But you can guarantee that when Curt Schilling heard that he was more than pleased and up to the task. He wanted that ball. In 2004 we saw that nothing in that man has changed. Curt Schilling is still the premiere champion of this game. He just no longer works for the Phillies.

"A man who is not willing to work from dewy morn until weary eve should not think about becoming a pitcher." – Cy Young

The pain of Schilling winning in Boston and not in Philadelphia hits home for me and many Phillies fans as we watch him extend the heights of his greatness by leading the Red Sox to a World Championship at the age of 37.

I cannot describe the depths of my admiration of Curt Schilling for the kind of athlete that he is. He fears nothing. He gives everything. And whatever team he is a part of he leads them to success and brilliance. I do not believe that it is in any way, shape or form a coincidence that the last three teams he has pitched for – Philadelphia, Arizona and now, Boston - have gone on to the World Series. The fate of the Phillies in the 1993 World Series is of course nothing that Phillies fans need to be reminded of. Those visuals will never leave your mind or mine. The Diamondbacks however would go on to defeat the mighty New York Yankees. And one week ago in a thrilling and historic defeat of the Yankees in the ALCS, the Red Sox swooped down and stole the Yankees crown with guts, grit and total faith in their own ability despite dropping the first three games of the series. They would rebound and come out victorious in the house that Ruth built, advancing to the World Series. Dare I say that Ruth might have even admired what that team did? Surely he would have admired what the great Schill did.

Before he pitched against the Yankees in the ALCS the talk everywhere was that with Schill scheduled to pitch in three of seven games, if it went that far, was going to be one of the major pieces in solving the Yankee puzzle. The Red Sox needed him and needed a quality start from him that would quiet the Yankees powerful bats. After a dismal start in game one due to an injury it looked like he was done and so were the Red Sox. The curse was celebrated again and just as Phillies fans do, the Sox fans resigned themselves to the inevitable. The Sox dropped the next two games in the series. Down three games to none, there was no way that they would catch up to the Yankees. Manager Terry Francona spun the wheels though and swore it wasn't over. We felt sorry for him for he was clearly in denial. Then, pigs flew.

The Red Sox would go on to do what it is they had to do, the one thing we all said could not be done and in fact had never been done in history, winning the next four in the series and silencing the bats of Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. There was also an incident in which Rodriguez in no uncertain terms broke a clear rule of ethics in baseball followed by Jeter's unprofessional response in the dugout. There was a Yankee pitching staff, simply not strong enough to hold up against the Sox. It was going to be the Red Sox in the World Series. The next question was would it be Schilling time again in another World Series? You surely didn't believe that if the Red Sox were in the World Series, that Curt Schilling would sit it out, did you? You must know this man. And you must never forget what he stands for.

When it was time for Schilling's start in game two of the World Series, he woke up in so much pain he didn't see how he was going to pitch that day. But true to form he would prove his leadership and passion for competing not to mention the inspiration he felt from his teammates and his faith, and decided he had to do it. And then, he proved why he is the champion he is by pitching a brilliant game in what appeared to be an effortless fashion, despite that bloody ankle. The blood was the result of a procedure that was done to sew his bone to tissue. It was amazing to watch.

But, do you know what else it was? Have you forgotten this is being written by a Phillies fan? What that moment signified was, in my opinion, the nail in the coffin of Curt Schilling ever wearing the Phillies pinstripes again. You were watching something wonderful and exciting and yet if you are a Phillies fan those feelings were mixed with sadness, regret, envy and finally, the sting of reality. He ain't coming back. And with a World Championship behind them, Theo and the rest of Red Sox Nation will see to it that he retires there.

The pain that I feel is from knowing that when Curt Schilling was in the midst of being traded from the Diamondbacks, he stated that he would love to come back and win a championship in Philadelphia. We all heard that he wanted to come back to Philadelphia and we knew that if he did, we would be welcoming back a workhorse that would help this team tremendously. Who wouldn't want Curt Schilling pitching for their team? Not anyone with any kind of true baseball instincts and certainly, no one with any kind of guts to roll the dice. I give you our GM Ed Wade. Gutless, clueless and unwilling to make the kinds of deals we need to win a championship or for that matter even be competitive enough to see October baseball in Philadelphia. I would normally not be so judgmental. The final out for me came after a phone interview with Curt Schilling on Daily News Live, in which Schilling stated unequivocally that Ed Wade would be lying if he says that he tried to make a deal with him to bring him back to Philadelphia. Recently fired manager Larry Bowa confirmed this on WIP saying that Schill called practically every day about coming back. Ed Wade says there was no way to "match up", meaning he was unwilling to work with the Diamondbacks to get one of the greatest pitchers in baseball. Ed Wade has said that they tried to work a deal out and we now know he was lying. He lied to our faces. To us, the consumers who put bodies in the seats at Citizens Bank Park in its debut season and put tons of money in the pockets of Phillies ownership.

I no longer have an ounce of trust in Ed Wade, because in my opinion, he betrayed us completely. I find what he did in a recent press conference when asked about Schilling and former Phillies third baseman Scott Rolen, now in the World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, to be a manipulative spin and a low attempt to steal away some fans by slyly revealing how both asked to be traded. Yes, they did, and we all know why. My dear Mr. Wade please remember tricks are for kids. We know why they wanted out and we are not fooled. You need only look at your reflection and that of your biggest supporter, Phillies President David Montgomery, not to mention the ghastly ownership. I do not know how many managers will not be "the right fit" or how many trade deadlines will go by where Wade does not use all of his resources and make sound decisions that will make this a franchise we can be proud of. I just want Ed Wade to know that his desperate attempts to win us over are useless. He does not seem to know that he has lost Phillies fans completely. And the issue of Curt Schilling is pretty much the final straw.

It is true, of course, that Wade wants us to believe that Schilling wanted out of Philadelphia in 2000 because he was not interested in being a Phillie anymore, but the truth Wade likes to skim over is that Schill wanted to leave due to the organization's unwillingness to build the team. Schilling, like all of us, was frustrated. He wanted to see them committing themselves, rolling the dice and being savvy and aggressive. They were unwilling. Schilling made his opinions known and before he exposed them any further they shipped him off to Arizona. One year later, the Diamondbacks won a World Series. In 1993, Schilling was the MVP of the League Championship Series as the Phillies advanced to the World Series to play the Toronto Blue Jays. There was much made of his actions in the dugout at times when Mitch Williams had to look in and see his teammate with a towel over his face to express his displeasure with Williams' performance. Schill was a problem in that clubhouse but no one doubted his commitment and his drive. He has recently said that he regrets doing that to Williams.

Curt Schilling is an expert at what he does. His brash manner may have been difficult to deal with at times, but he is a champion. If you watched that game he pitched in the World Series, you were watching poetry in motion and Phillies dreams dying. As a fan of the Red Sox, I am thrilled that they are World Champions. However, I am also sad at the thought of all that could have been and probably never will be.

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