A Curt Return
You may recall that back on August 26, I wrote about ESPN suspending former major league pitcher Curt Schilling, who had been sending a long string of egregiously racist, misogynistic and smarmy Facebook and Twitter posts. (You can read about it all and see some of them here.) The suspension, oddly, wasn't specially about the tweets themselves, which would seem to impact the ESPN brand since Schilling is a face of the network, but rather because he was told to stop and didn't.
Schilling's suspension didn't last all that long. After the Chicago Cubs victory in the Wild Card game last night, I put on ESPN's Baseball Tonight show – and Mr. Schilling was back already. I’d read that he would be returning, but it was still odd to see him, especially so soon. And it was a bit hard to watch, as well – in part because he does a very good job. But then, there’s that other part.
Two related oddities to all this. But first a brief background --
Late in the game, the Pittsburgh pitcher hit Cubs starter Jake Arrieta with a pitch, and a light brawl took place, with both teams emptying their benches. For reasons unknown to man, the Pirates' Sean Rodriguez went ballistic, punched one of the Cubs players, eventually was ejected and took out his angst on a Gatorade cooler in the dugout. (My assumption he was frustrated at his team losing, about to be eliminated from the playoffs, unable to get on base against Arrieta, and having been himself pulled from the game early without getting a chance to bat.) This is what resulted.
The Internet and media had a field day. Lots of amusing tweets. A headline in the Washington Post which read, "Sean Rodriguez lands as many hits on Gatorade jug as teammates do against Cubs." An ESPN commentator saying that "Sean Rodriguez strings together more hits there than Pittsburgh did all night." And more. But the best was someone who quickly created a Twitter account for the Gatorade cooler and posted --
Okay, back to Mr. Schilling.
At one point in the Baseball Tonight broadcast, they showed this footage above of Sean Rodriguez pounding, pounding, pounding the Gatorade cooler, and then they also brought up that Water Cooler tweet and showed it, which got everyone laughing.
It was at that point that Curt Schilling sort of cluelessly said something like, “That’s the thing about Twitter, it really reveals who you are, and there are some really funny people.”
You could only sit there and stare at the TV. I have to believe that was intentional, his way of saying, “OK, I’m not going to shy away from this, I’m a tough guy, a former athlete, outspoken I don’t hide from anything,” though he said it so effortlessly, almost like an afterthought, natural. But whatever its intent, intentional or otherwise, he phrased so…cluelessly. “It really reveals who you are.” Seriously guy?? From the person who used Facebook to basically call Hillary Clinton a murderer, compare Islamic extremists to Nazis, and defend the Confederate flag as representing Christ's fight for liberty? Really??
And then, at the very end of the show – literally, the last line – after host Karl Ravech was finishing his wrap-up to close out the broadcast, Ravetch (to his credit) added one final line, something I suspect he might not have said had Schilling not made his comment just moments earlier, because it seems so quick and off-handed, saying something to Schilling like, “And promise me, dude, no tweets.”
It was hard to gauge Schilling’s reaction, where he almost imperceptibly, but clearly turned his glance to Ravech. It was either a taken aback, “Seriously, you went there live, on the air?” or an understanding, “Sigh, yeah, tell me about it.” I’d be curious to know what was said in the studio seconds later after the show ended.
But good for Karl Ravech addressing it, even in as small a way as he did.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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