Curt Schilling is finished.

Put down your weapons and hear me out. I’m already anticipating the complete list of comebacks in response to that bold, blanket statement.

“What are your qualifications? Did you ever pitch in the major leagues?”

Not quite. Well, I was actually 12-2 with a 1.64 ERA for the Tucson Toros in 1996 before the illegal fireworks went off in my hand. But seriously. I never snorted cocaine, either, but I think there’s enough evidence to back me up when I say it’s bad for you.

“Oh, that’s really brave: Kicking a guy while he’s down after a couple lousy starts.”

Truth is, I’ve been scared to death of Big Schill’s status as the self-proclaimed ace of this staff since before Day 1, when he was whacked around by the Royals. If you haven’t detected that thread in all my references to Schilling this spring, don’t get mad. Get Hooked On Phonics.

“He was one out away from a no-hitter two weeks ago, you idiot.”

A no-hitter is Major League Baseball’s version of a hole-in-one or a 500-yard passing game. It’s a hell of a milestone, but it’s typically apropos of nothing. There are a hundred extenuating circumstances. Up until baseball cooked the books and changed the rules, it was common for a guy to throw a no-hitter and lose.

Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez have never thrown one. Bud Smith, Mike Warren, Joe Cowley, Derek Lowe and Chris Bosio each did. Steve Busby and Hideo Nomo both hurled two, for pity’s sake.

It’s a tribute to the bombastic blogger’s former greatness that he was able to summon enough nasty stuff to be one stupid shake-off of Jason Varitek away from a no-no against Oakland. His arm and his brain are still dangerous on a lightning-in-a-bottle basis, even if his legs are completely gone.

With the notable exception of that getaway game by the bay, Schilling has been eminently hittable in 2007. And he’s still seeking a $13 million contract extension? Talk about delusions of grandeur.

I’m not suicidal enough to make like that crazy flatlander, Nick Masuda, and suggest a trade for Schilling, in part because I’m not sure he has any value on the market. I’d recommend riding out this season and using him as a serviceable fourth or fifth starter. But Terry Francona needs to keep No. 38 on a short leash, not sit in his imaginary rocking chair, let Schilling run the show and go 120 pitches deep in meaningful games.

We saw how that worked out for Grady Little and Martinez, didn’t we?

His flashes of former heroism aside, Martinez was equally done in October 2003. After the 2004 watershed, Theo Epstein was smart enough to stick a fork in Pedro and let somebody else overpay him.

Let’s hope history repeats itself, all the way around.


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