Curt Schilling Takes Sports Journalism into His Own Hands

David PhilpAnalyst IFebruary 7, 2008

Curt Schilling's shoulder hurts. 

The media report his career is over, surgery is inevitable, and the team wants to void his contract.  No matter that the two sources who know everything about this subject—Mr. Schilling and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein—haven't commented publicly, because what does matter is that the media had a story and they broke it.  It was big news. 

Only, it was inaccurate.

The Boston Globe reported Thursday that Schilling had a partial tear of his right rotator cuff and might not pitch until the All-Star break.  The Boston Herald said that the Schilling situation had caused "tension and friction" between the team and its pitcher, and that the club had even inquired about voiding Schilling's $8 million contract.

Schilling, who writes a blog called 38 Pitches (, broke his short-lived silence Thursday night, posting a response to these reports: 

"Please understand that a lot of what has been reported is not true.  I need to make it clear that Dr. Morgan did NOT diagnose me with a tear of the rotator cuff at any time during this process, nor did he recommend rotator cuff surgery.  After being diagnosed by the Red Sox medical staff I sought a second opinion, as anyone would, and when it became clear there was disagreement (which is not uncommon by the way), I agreed to see an independent doctor from a list the Red Sox provided me, for the third opinion."

The Red Sox also issued a statement that night:

"Curt Schilling was examined by Red Sox doctors in January after he reported feeling right shoulder discomfort.  Curt has started a program of rest, rehabilitation, and shoulder strengthening in an attempt to return to pitching."

We can give credit to the Globe and Herald for breaking a story about a popular (in Boston, at least) pitcher and a potentially devastating injury.  But let's discredit the publications, too, for the inaccuracies of their key points. 

Just who are these newspapers relying upon for their information?  Why did the sources speak in the first place?  Did the Globe and Herald obtain corroborating evidence to support their claims?

It's not like printed inaccuracies are going to have irreparable consequences, but there should be standards. 

Everybody wants to be first—not just sports journalists.  Our culture is quick to coronate whoever breaks the news.  Reporters, TMZ staffers, Perez Hilton, paparazzi—they're all aspiring Tom Joad's (Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath):

"I'll be ever'where—wherever you look.  Wherever they's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there.  Wherever they's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there.  I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad an'—I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready.  An' when our folks eat the stuff they raise an' live in the houses they build—why, I'll be there." 

Only remember this, Tom Joad was an antihero, and today's media don't have such dignity.  They don't have the dignity of Curt Schilling, who—like him or not—chooses to tell the truth about himself, warts and all. 

So what if Schilling no longer spoke to the media and instead communicated with the public through his blog?  The media, in fact, is uncomfortable with the situation as it stands already—an athlete acting as his own reporter.  There is no "taking out of context" with a blog, no misquoting.

Granted, Schilling has the kind personality to sustain this kind of self-reporting, and while other athletes act as reporters via web they don't all possess a compelling style.  Derek Jeter's writing would probably be the perfect antidote to insomnia.  

Schilling says what's on his mind and he writes what he thinks is the truth.  He's his own source when it comes to reporting on the subject of himself.

Do we want to read it?  Sure.  It's interesting.  I know many Yankee fans who hate the man—HATE him—but read his blog.  It's compelling.  It's timely.  It's accurate.

You can't say as much for the rest of today's media.