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To say I've been blessed would be like calling Refrigerator Perry "a bit overweight."

Leave it to Curt Schilling to run down someone else while waxing poetic about himself in his retirement blog yesterday.

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Response No. 1: Get a ShamWow and cry me a river.

Response No. 2: I thought he had retired already.

And I'm a Red Sox fan.

Yes, his 20-year career has a Hall of Fame patina: three World Series rings, a 216-146 record (11-2 in the playoffs), 3,116 strikeouts, 3.46 ERA. There's his heroic 2004 post-season play highlighted by the "bloody sock" that already resides in Cooperstown. His outreach to fans on the radio and online is commendable. And his charity work is above reproach.

So why is it so hard to work up any enthusiasm for No. 38?

Google "Curt Schilling" and "blowhard" and you'll get more than 2,100 hits; "Schilling and "gasbag" is worth another 3,800.

Then recall Mister Bluster's anti-steroid rant in a 2002 Sports Illustrated article, when he remarked that he couldn't give some teammates a congratulatory pat on the butt because that's where they shot up.

"I know guys who use and don't admit it because they think it means they don't work hard," Schilling continued. "And I know plenty of guys now are mixing steroids with human growth hormone. Those guys are pretty obvious."

But three years later, when Congress shined the light on Schilling during the infamous Mark McGwire-Rafael Palmiero hearings, he admitted that he "grossly overstated" the steroid problem, adding, "I think at the time it was a very hot situation and we were all being asked to comment on it."
Yes, and it's easier to run your mouth when you haven't sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you, Miguel Tejada.

Now Schilling's gone, or as he said, "This party has officially ended."
If we're lucky, the next debate will be about his Cooperstown credentials. Because he didn't pitch last season, Schilling will be eligible in 2013, one year before former Oriole Mike Mussina. So how does he stack up as a player and person? My colleagues weigh in:

Childs Walker: Like him or not, Curt Schilling was a helluva pitcher, the kind of inning-eating, power-control combo that every general manager dreams of. He had about six seasons that would fit neatly into any Hall-of-Fame career. But is that, combined with his famous postseason performances, enough? Fellow retiree Mike Mussina makes for an interesting comparison. He pitched about 300 more innings and won 54 more games than Schilling, but Schilling produced more signature moments and slightly better ERAs relative to his league. Ultimately, I'd say Schilling scrapes in as a kind of Don Drysdale redux -- really famous guy who pitched for famous teams and had enough outstanding seasons to leave a strong impression.

Kevin VanValkenburg: Every great athlete (just like every great writer) yearns to be praised for his or her gifts. It is their egos, often, that make them such intense competitors who refuse to accept failure. But Curt Schilling never quite figured out to genuinely mask his primal desire (a desire we all feel) to be loved and praised with baseball's expectations and its unwritten code that he remain the humble teammate who was just one part of a larger machine. Schilling was the rare athlete who could be both arrogant and needy, a person who loved the spotlight, yet desperately wanted to seem the humble everyman. None of that made Schilling a bad person; in fact, in my eyes, it made him so much more human. He ain't no Hall of Famer, though. Hall of Very Good, maybe.

Bill Ordine: I see Schilling as for-sure in the Hall of Fame because his candidacy is blessed with a combination of credentials rooted in both reality and perception. Some of his statistical bona fides are, in truth, border-line -- 216 wins and a 3.46 ERA are marks that are acceptable for the HOF but not elite. A couple of categories, though, are spectacular -- strikeouts (3,116) and post-season record (11-2). If the resume stopped there, Schilling would be a bubble guy but he has become bigger than the numbers for a number of reasons.

In an era that will be tainted by steroids, Schilling has been an anti-steroids crusader. In a comparative way, his numbers may be perceived as being even more impressive.

He was on World Series winners in both leagues.

And something that is particularly important in baseball, he has that element of romantic lore going for him -- the famous bloody sock.

Perception can be reality and in something that can be as subjective as HOF voting, perception works in Schilling’s favor.
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