Within my love for baseball is a deeper love, for pitchers. That's the position I concentrate on, idolize, and where most of my binkies lie. And most of those binkies, I have noticed over the last several seasons, are big, pudgy, pasty right-handers--Schilling, Papelbon, Foulke and to some extent Mike Timlin (he lacks the pudge). I don't know what it is, but I'm going with it for now, and this spring I'm going to focus on those guys and chart their progress.
So here's the first report on my big righties:
This portion of an article on Papelbon on MLB.com filled me with love and sunshine:
If he winds up starting, Papelbon can thank Curt Schilling for being a big fan.
"I'm obviously lobbying for him to be a starter because I believe someone who can pitch 200 innings is going to help us more than pitching 60," Schilling said. "I talked to Theo about it and he rolled his eyes like he usually does."
Hard to tell what I love more: that Curt's lobbying for Papelbon, or Theo's wonderful, blunt ways.
Or maybe I'm just giddy because BASEBALL IS FINALLY HERE.
Anyway, Papelbon is going to be going through spring training as a starter, so he's ready in either case, according to Theo in that article. I say we drop Wells like a bad habit and give Jonny P a slot. In fact, I don't just "say" that, I kind of already "insist" on it.
Schilling is his usual self-aggrandizing self:
Schilling doesn't have to wait until mid-September to calculate his magic number. It's 245, as in the number of innings he is hoping to pitch in 2006. The right-hander is hoping to make 35 starts, going seven innings per outing, to reach that goal.
Schilling knows that there are doubters out there who wonder if his age, 39, and his injuries over the last two seasons will keep him from reaching such lofty personal expectations.
"I don't see that there's a limit here," Schilling said. "I know there are some people out there who profess at my age I can't win 20 and that going 200 innings is going to be a huge accomplishment. I don't see that. I see that as that's what's expected of me, that's what I'm preparing to do and that's what I'm going to go out and do."
But unlike the other 9 out of 10 people, I love that about him. I love his chutzpah and his obnoxiousness and his trash-talking, because he backs it up. I know for a fact the guy is honestly and truly going to go out there and squeeze out 245 innings, and if he doesn't, it's because there is no mortal man who could actually do it under the circumstances. When you perform that way, in my mind, you have the right to say something like that, to essentially call your shot.
Of course, the other point I often make about Schilling is to reference the saying "People get the government they deserve." In this case we've gotten the rotation leader we were clamoring for after cannibalizing Pedro in the years before Schilling's arrival. In Schilling, we have the guy who not only can handle but seeks the glare of the spotlight, the guy who can play the media as well as the game, the guy it at least seemed like we had all been looking for. And he won us a World Series. What's not to love?
Anyway, today was the end of Keith Foulke's moratorium on interviews (or "vacation" as he called it) but so far nothing out of him. Maybe the reporters didn't take kindly to his trying to dictate things and snubbed him back. Who knows.