The blogosphere didn't disappoint — the Steinbrenners are selling the Yankees? ZOMG! — but it was a predictable something else that proved to be the bowling trophy falling on my bowled-over noggin.
Yes, it was Curt Schilling(notes) loudly interjecting himself into another situation he wasn't involved with in the first place, followed by the equally loud objections of those who resent his right to an opinion, however strong, offbase or unrequested it may be.
Asked a throwaway question about this year's Phillies team, Schilling launched into a lengthy critique of GM Ruben Amaro's decision to shed Cliff Lee(notes) to the Mariners in order to help maintain a strong farm system after mining it to acquire Roy Halladay(notes).
From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Curt Schilling needed no prompting. The question was innocuous. Did he like this year's Phillies team?
"I think trading Cliff Lee was the stupidest thing they've ever done, and they didn't have to," Schilling said. "They didn't have to do it. It was a stupid, stupid move. They could've had a World Series berth locked up right now with those two guys at the top of their rotation."
Those two being Lee and Roy Halladay.
Curt Schilling didn't stop there, but you'll have to go over and read the article to get his full take on why he thinks Amaro was covering his rear by flipping Lee for Tyson Gillies and Phillipe Aumont — instead of putting together the second coming of the Randy Johnson(notes) and Schilling duo that carried the Diamondbacks to the 2001 World Series title.
I don't agree with Schilling's opinion that the Phils should have laid it all on the line for one last grab at glory — depleting your farm system is a sure ticket to a precipitous fall down the line — but I also don't disagree with him as much as some. Coming from a different source, Schilling's argument might have provided a good jumping off point for a discussion on what a team should do when it's in the middle of a once-in-a-generation run.
Schilling is wrong in this case because the Phillies' current situation doesn't present an either-or choice of burning out or fading away. You can most certainly win a World Series with Halladay and Cole Hamels(notes) as your top two pitchers. And considering the nature of baseball's playoff system — where the best team doesn't always win — it's wise to build an organization that will get there many times over a multiple-year run. A farm system that contains players like Gillies and Domonic Brown will give you a chance to do that.
On the other hand, keeping Lee in that rotation was certainly a tantalizing possibility and I can't blame Schilling for bringing it up, even if he did it brutishly. Phillies fans are lying if they say that none of them had similar thoughts about keeping Lee around for 2010 and I'd venture to say that's part of why this has become a hot-button issue in Philadelphia this morning.
But so much of having your ideas accepted and taken seriously is in the presentation and Schilling's outspoken and political nature means that most of thoughts — even if they're just about baseball — will never be palatable to a large segment of the population.
We can always count on Schilling to turn the spotlight on himself by not mincing his words on any given topic, just as we can count on the cries of those who want that light shut off immediately. And unfortunately, unlike April Fool's Day, it's bound to happen more than once a year.
- Curt Schilling