- The Washington Times - Friday, November 28, 2003

Sometimes if you are patient enough, things have a way of coming around. Things have come around full circle for Curt Schilling.

The Boston Red Sox, who traded the smart-mouthed kid away in 1988 with another prospect for a veteran pitcher, begged Schilling to come back to Boston.

That’s what winning 45 games and striking out 609 in two seasons (in 2001 and 2002 for Arizona, though he went 8-9 last year after missing six weeks with a broken bone in his pitching hand) will do for you. It brings people to your door, begging you to please come and do for them what they haven’t been able to do for themselves since 1918 — win the World Series.

That is the only reason the Red Sox brass, led by Larry Lucchino, went to Arizona this week — to convince Schilling to agree to the trade that sent him from the Diamondbacks to the Red Sox for the sole purpose of — at the very least — getting to the World Series.

It’s not to get to the playoffs. The Red Sox did that this year. It’s not to get to the American League Championship Series. The Red Sox did that this year as well. And it’s not to get to the seventh game of the ALCS, either. The Red Sox did that this year, too.

This deal is to get them past that Aaron Boone home run in the bottom of the 11th inning in Game7 and beyond. This trade is to beat the New York Yankees.

Schilling decided yesterday to waive his no-trade clause for the deal, which will send him to Boston in exchange for young pitchers Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon and two other minor leagues as the Diamondbacks attempt to cut their payroll from $94million to $80million for next season.

The teams had agreed on the trade Monday, but the Red Sox and Schilling haggled until yesterday on a two-year contract extension through 2006 that guarantees him $25.5million.

The acquisition of Schilling also could influence who will be the next manager for Boston, which is perhaps far more important a decision than trading for Schilling. After all, Lucchino and Co. have made it clear by firing Grady Little that they felt the only thing standing in the way of a World Series for the Red Sox in October was Little’s blunder of letting Pedro Martinez stay in that seventh game when his arm was gone.

Schilling has a manager of choice as well, and he appears to be the favorite for the Boston job: Terry Francona. Yes, not only does Schilling have the Red Sox front office begging him to come back, he also could have some influence on who becomes the next manager in Boston.

“I have made it known that [Francona] would be a reason I’d be interested in going to Boston,” Schilling told reporters.

Here’s one possible reason why Schilling is so fond of Francona, his former manager in Philadelphia. In August 1999, Schilling’s wife, Shonda, was pregnant and had to be hospitalized to treat a life-threatening blood clot. Schilling, who was coming off shoulder surgery, was determined to make his first start despite his wife’s condition. Instead, Francona told him to go and be with his wife.

All of this, of course, should be just one more revolting development for Baltimore Orioles fans on several levels, including the fact that an American League East rival just got stronger while questions are being raised about the Orioles’ hopes of being competitive next year.

Going back to 1988, Boston traded Schilling to Baltimore in the deal that also brought Brady Anderson to the Orioles for Mike Boddicker. The Orioles made out on the deal with the emergence of Anderson as an All-Star outfielder. However, they turned around and dealt Schilling, Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley to Houston for Glenn Davis in the worst trade in franchise history. It doesn’t get much worse than that — until now.

At least Schilling has been out of the American League since that trade. Now in Boston, he will be pitching against the Orioles on a regular basis. Even 12 years after the fateful deal, it will be like reliving the trade all over again whenever Schilling pitches against Baltimore.

Meanwhile, the Orioles were unable to work a deal to bring Florida first baseman Derrek Lee to Baltimore. The Orioles, who went as far as bringing Lee to the B&O; Warehouse, were unable to convince him to agree to a contract extension. It’s pretty bad when you can’t get someone named Lee to accept your Confederate money.

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