Red Sox Shafting of Schilling Shows Ownership’s True Colors

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Are the Boston Red Sox a sports club or a political-social organization?

As Red Sox fans cheer on this year’s stacked team – now leading a good Los Angeles Dodgers team 2-0 in the World Series – it’s sad to see what Red Sox officials did to Curt Schilling on Wednesday night.

The performance of Schilling, now 51, is among the most vivid memories of the 2004 Red Sox team that won the team’s first World Series in 86 years.

Yet Schilling didn’t appear with his teammates during a pre-game ceremony Wednesday night honoring members of the team. Why?

He wasn’t asked.

In October 2004, in the days before the pivotal Game 6 in the American League Championship Series, Schilling sustained an injury that made it impossible for him to pitch. He had torn the sheathing over the tendon in his right ankle. So he had a theretofore-unheard-of temporary surgery performed to stabilize his tendon enough to be able to walk, wind up, and throw. The idea was to get him through the performance on a strictly temporary basis.

When he woke up the morning of the game he could hardly move, so he had the doctors adjust the sutures from the original surgery to allow him more flexibility.

That night Schilling limped around the pitcher’s mound at Yankee Stadium, with blood seeping through his white sock, while holding the Yankees to one run through seven innings.

The Red Sox won the game, and in Game 7 completed the unprecedented comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the series.

It was heroic. Not the stuff of soldiers and cops and jumping into the frigid Potomac River to rescue someone. But about as moving as you can get in a professional sports setting. And he repeated the performance – again, with a temporary surgery that had to be undone afterward – for Game 2 of the World Series several days later.

One of the bloody socks Schilling wore is now in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

All of this makes you think Schilling would surely be included in a commemoration of the 2004 team.

But no. As sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe reported, the Red Sox didn’t ask him.

Here’s the explanation from an anonymous team official:

“’We did not reach out to him,’ said a Red Sox executive. ‘But it is not out of spite. It was originally just going to be Pedro and David and Wake and Millar, but we heard from a few others and they are included.’”

The references are to Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Tim Wakefield, and Kevin Millar. The “few others” included Jason Varitek, Keith Foulke, and Alan Embree.

In other words:  Seven members of the team were included. Eight if you include Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who went out onto the field and greeted his former teammates before the ceremony.

Schilling, by the way, lives in Medfield. He probably could have driven to Fenway in an hour – with traffic.

So why not invite him?

Schilling has a strained relationship with the team, which paid him $11 million for his final season, during which he never pitched in a Major League game because of an injury.

But that sort of thing happens in Major League Baseball all the time.

A team spokesman says Schilling wasn’t left out on purpose, that no blanket invitation was given to the 2004 team, and that what started as a ceremony involving four players simply grew to include a few more.

Interesting. So the team couldn’t have included a player that is one of the most memorable of the 2004 team who lives about 22 miles from the ballpark?

You buying that?

And what is the “spite” that the Red Sox didn’t act out of? The anonymous Red Sox official didn’t say.

But here’s a guess:

Schilling’s outspoken conservatism.

Left-wing ESPN fired Schilling in April 2016 after he tweeted in opposition to opening public women’s bathrooms to biological males who identify as women.

His stance also runs afoul of the Red Sox. For the last several years, the Red Sox have held what the team now calls “Pride Night” to coincide with “Pride Week” in June. (“Gay Pride” has in recent years been deemed not inclusive enough by the event’s organizers.)

It’s not merely an affirmation of people, but also an endorsement of a political and social movement that affirms homosexuality and transgenderism. This movement stands in opposition to people who think same-sex attraction and gender confusion are unfortunate conditions, not tendencies to be celebrated and encouraged by government policy.

The Boston Red Sox are among the businesses supporting the Yes on 3 campaign seeking to persuade voters to continue a 2016 state statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity in public accommodations. That includes the right of a biological male who identifies as a woman to use bathrooms and locker rooms meant for women and girls.

In other words:  The organization is repeatedly making political and social statements on controversial topics that a large segment of Red Sox fans don’t agree with the team on.

This is the sort of politicking that American businesses used to shy away from.

Now, picking sides in a thorny political and social divide is the right of the Boston Red Sox, as it is for any business. But that business forfeits some of its feel-goodism when it does. Boston’s professional baseball team can’t pretend it’s all about “Red Sox Nation” when it chooses some members of the nation over others.

Some readers may be thinking:  We’re up 2-0 in the World Series. This is good news. Why bring up politics?

You’re right. But it’s a question best asked of the Red Sox owners. The easiest thing to do under the circumstances would have been to contact Schilling and invite him to the ceremony. He was a huge part of the historic 2004 team. No one would have questioned it.

And yet Red Sox officials specifically declined to invite him.

It’s sad to see the team ignore a major portion of its history because of a political disagreement.

It’s like pouring whiteout over the bloody sock.