Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling weighed in on the current Sox team for the first time in a while this morning, telling Boston sports radio station WEEI he probably would have taken a swing if anyone made a comment to him like Bobby Valentine made to Will Middlebrooks and predicting the Valentine era will end like “Mount Vesuvius.”
Schilling -- who will be inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame tonight along with Marty Barrett, Ellis Burks, Joe Dobson, Hubert “Dutch” Leonard and non-uniformed selections Joe Mooney and John I. Taylor -- has been one of Valentine's biggest critics, first mentioning in March he was hearing rumblings that things weren’t off to a great start between the manager and his players.
“When I said the things I said before the season about the mix here, a lot of people took that to mean I didn’t like Bobby or Bobby had flaws,” Schilling said in an interview on WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan show. “I just didn’t think the matchup of the players on this club and him was going to work. I don’t think he ever got a chance from a lot of the guys."
Since then, of course, there have been a number of reports of discord between Valentine and his players and communication breakdowns between the manager and his staff. The latest act in this drama was Bobby V revealing ownership talked to him about an off-hand comment he made to Middlebrooks in the dugout after a bad inning in the field.
The fact that ownership was even tipped off to the fact Valentine made a sarcastic comment to Middlebrooks was a bad sign, Schilling said.
“What that tells me is you clearly have a player or players or a coach who wants this guy to have no part in this organization,” he said. "To think that that coach or that person thinks so little of him to go to the front office, that is a whole different set of issues that exists.”
Schilling said it’s easy for players to get sick of almost-daily reports of unrest, adding that a strength of Bobby V’s predecessor Terry Francona was his ability to keep a lid on that kind of off-the-field drama.
“The reason (Francona) had so much success was because he never allowed this stuff to play itself out,” Schilling said. "The personalities he managed here were in excess of anything that’s on this team right now. He never allowed these stories to have legs. And that was a huge advantage because we didn’t have to worry about talking about this kind of crap. It’s a disadvantage to Bobby and the club to have to deal with this stuff every single day.”
Schilling’s reference to Mount Vesuvius, whose infamous eruption buried the city of Pompeii in ancient times, came after the hosts asked him how he thought things would end for Bobby V in Boston.
"I can't imagine, given the personalities involved in all sides, that this thing just kind of wanders away in the evening,” Schilling said. "Especially with the fans here. The sad part and the unfortunate part is that Bobby is going to take the brunt of it."
Schilling, who took a leave of absence from his job as an ESPN analyst after his software company filed for bankruptcy protection in June, also shared his thoughts on struggling Red Sox aces Josh Beckett (5-9, 4.54 ERA) and Jon Lester (5-9, 5.36), both of whom he has pitched with in the past.
Schilling said he was “disappointed” Beckett “hasn’t made it easier” on himself this season.
“It just seems like there’s some cut of your nose to spite your face stuff happening, and that’s unfortunate.”
As for Lester, Schilling thinks losing John Farrell made a big impact and thinks there might be too many voices in his ear.
“As soon as the tinkering starts, we’re talking about a whole new set of issues,” Schilling said. “Then you have the player believing there’s a long and winding road to being good again, and a lot of times, especially for a guy that good, there isn’t.”