Baseball, The Mouth That Wouldn’t Quit, and Hypocrisy

(Fear not, non-sports-loving readers.  This little ditty, not about Jack and Diane, is about a baseball player but it’s not about baseball.)

Curt Schilling, the retired (and highly accomplished) baseball player, has long been a guy in love with the sound of his own voice.  Working in a field of endeavor in which participants normally avoid reporters like they were a groupie with a bad case of chlamydia, Schilling eagerly sought out reporters during his career, freely offering his opinions even when they weren’t solicited.  He even went so far as to call in to sports talk radio shows – something no professional athlete should ever, ever do because no good can possibly come from it.

People who are in love with the sound of their own voice often end up expounding on subjects outside their area of expertise – after all, one can only talk so much about curve balls and sliders – and Schilling boldly went where few active professional athletes before him have gone:  politics.  It’s common among your movie-star types – for an example, see Clooney, comma, George – but not so common among professional athletes, who are carefully indoctrinated not to offer opinions about anything of substance because doing so will alienate some people and hurt your all-important marketability.

But the desire to pontificate was too strong in Schilling – personally, The Curmudgeon can’t imagine this impulse to ascend a platform and preach to the masses – so he enlightened his public about his politics:  he is a Republican, a conservative, a get-the-government-off-my-back-and-out-of-my-life Republican.  He even briefly – and very publicly, of course, because otherwise, what’s the point? – considered running against John Kerry in the race for Massachusetts’s Senate seat in 2008, though ultimately, he chose not to do so.

Fair enough.  A guy’s entitled to his opinion and his politics.  The Curmudgeon happens to be particularly disdainful of celebrities who take advantage of the microphones always at their disposal to tell us what’s good for us – even when he agrees with their politics (Clooney included), but Schilling didn’t invent this practice and it would be unfair to come down hard on him for doing something so many others before him have done.

The problem with declaring your politics so publicly, though, is that it creates an obligation to walk the talk, and this, finally, is where The Curmudgeon has a bone to pick with Curt Schilling.

Schilling is an aspiring entrepreneur:  his business is creating video games.  He launched a company in Massachusetts, but when seeking capital for development and growth, he received a $75 million loan guarantee from the state of Rhode Island and its economic development corporation.  In return, he moved his company to Rhode Island.

Under most circumstances, this would be business as usual in the corporate world.  Every day, businesses seek out sources of financing and every day, state government economic development programs offer them money, tax credits, loan guarantees, cheap land on which to build, and more in the hope that the business will relocate and employ lots of their residents.  Again, business as usual.

Schilling’s company recently had a problem making one of its loan repayments – a $1.1 million repayment, to be precise.  It was regrettable, but again, business as usual:  it’s not uncommon for young businesses to have cash flow problems that cause them to struggle to meet some of their obligations in a timely manner.  At first, Schilling’s company sent a check for $1.1 million but warned that it would bounce; it also asked for more financial assistance (along with the additional Rhode Island tax credits for which it had already applied last year), noting that it had just failed to make payroll.  Two days later, though, it paid the $1.1 million.  (According to the web site Baseball-Reference.com, Schilling earned $114 million playing baseball – yes, $114 million playing baseball – so it’s hard to understand why he had trouble coming up with a piddling $1.1 million.)

But let’s not lose sight of the larger issue – or at least the larger issue in The Curmudgeon’s mind.

Isn’t it hypocritical for a guy who’s been very public about his disdain for government, and who wants government out of his and other people’s lives, to seek out, accept, and take advantage of government programs like those offered by Rhode Island’s economic development corporation?  And doesn’t it follow that Schilling failed to walk the talk and proved, like many others who have gone before him, that all of his words meant nothing, that in the end, he’s going to do what he thinks is best for him, and what he wants, even if it means betraying his beliefs?

Actually, this behavior is pretty typical of many people these days.  They want government out of their lives – but they want special tax breaks for their industry; they want government to bail out their businesses when they screw up royally – but then they complain about regulations designed to protect the public from future screw-ups; they want great schools and local government services but complain about property taxes and the public employees who make a whole $30,000 a year delivering those services; they want government out of their lives but they want it to regulate the decisions their daughters, sisters, and wives can make about their own reproductive systems and what their children can see on television and at the movies; and they want the government as far away from their health care as possible but protest angrily when it suggests changes in their parents’ Medicare.

Come to think of it, maybe Schilling should reconsider that 2008 decision not to run for the U.S. Senate and try it in two years.  As was the case with his distinguished baseball career, he would certainly be in his own element.

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Comments

  • Peaches Shimmerdeep  On May 25, 2012 at 8:59 am

    As usual, I am enjoying The Curmudgeon’s snappy and informative blog items. I’m happy to see that The Curmudgeon used the “research” provided on “dating”; also liked this Schilling item a lot. One thought, though, in the interest of fairness; reconsider the comment “The Curmudgeon can’t imagine this impulse to ascend a platform and preach to the masses”. The need to express onesself–whether on the radio, on television, in a letter to the editor, or…dare I say…on a blog–is strong and the result is often valuable. The Curmudgeon has lucid, well-considered opinions and he likes to share them for both amusement and edification, much like Mr. Schilling. It is disingenuous of The Curmudegeon to say otherwise just because his chosen vehicle for expresion is different from Mr. Schilling’s. That said, The Curmudgeon makes excellent points, with which I happen to agree. Yours is a GREAT blog.

    • foureyedcurmudgeon  On May 25, 2012 at 9:08 am

      Actually, the comment about not being able to imagine the impulse to preach to the masses was made with tongue implanted firmly and deeply in cheek and is The Curmudgeon’s direct poke at himself: after all, he’s doing the exact same thing as Schilling. Remember the very first post on this blog? It’s about how The Curmudgeon considered blogging even before the word came into common use but ultimately decided that he wouldn’t do it because he couldn’t imagine anyone being interested in the opinions of people they don’t even know. Based on the daily statistics quantifying the readership of this site, it appears that concern was quite legitimate.

  • Peaches Shimmerdeep  On May 25, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Sorry- there was no spellcheck and I was rushing!

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