10/03/2002 11:47 am ET
Press Row: Tipping tips
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Is Curt Schilling tipping his pitches or isn't he? Inquiring minds want to know.
The Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher, who will start Game 2 of the National League Division Series Thursday at Bank One Ballpark against the St. Louis Cardinals, says he isn't.
The issue came up during the Game 1 broadcast when ESPN analyst Rick Sutcliffe suggested Randy Johnson was tipping his pitches. The Cardinals won, 12-2.
Watch Schilling. You know the Cardinals will. Jerry Colangelo, the Diamondbacks managing general partner, will. Colangelo told Ed Price of the East Valley Tribune that he recently had a chat with Schilling.
"I said, 'Curt, your body language is such that I don't see your swagger. We need your swagger back. We need you back. We need the confident Curt Schilling back,'" Colangelo told Price.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes that "Schilling will be hard-pressed to duplicate last year's National League Division Series when he established himself as a legend of the fall. He yielded just one run in two complete-game victories against the Cardinals. But St. Louis' lineup is actually now better without Mark McGwire, the middle of the order bolstered by the addition of (Scott) Rolen."
The Diamondbacks sound as if Thursday's game is a must-win. Schilling was 4-0 last postseason but in a 6-1 regular season loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 25, he gave up a pair of three-run homers.
Mark Gonzales of the Arizona Republic points out that even though the Diamondbacks beat Cardinals Game 2 starter Chuck Finley 4-2 on June 29, they did so with Luis Gonzalez, Craig Counsell and Jose Guillen. Gonzalez and Counsell are both sidelined with injuries while Guillen was released.
Columnist Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called the Cardinals' Game 1 win "a cerebral triumph." Miklasz credits St. Louis' smart approach to scouting reports by manager Tony La Russa and hitting coach Mitchell Page.
"The Cardinals wouldn't chase Johnson's pitches out of the zone," Miklasz wrote. "They wouldn't nibble on his slider. Instead, they sat on his fastball, which had dipped in velocity, making it an attractive target.
"Later," Miklasz writes, "when Johnson began throwing more sliders, the Cardinals seemed to know it was coming. (They deny knowledge of Johnson's alleged tipping of pitches.) Whatever. They mugged Johnson's slider."
Arizona Republic columnist Dan Bickley writes that Schilling may be nicknamed "Red Light Curt" because he likes being the focus of television cameras but he's the man for the job Thursday.
Bickley says underneath Schilling's "glittering reputation as a dependable ace and big-game superstar lies a darker perception: A me-first guy who speaks with a bullhorn, grates on teammates and is constantly seeking the media platform.
"It is an image formed on truth, fiction and competitive jealousy," Bickley writes. "And there is something else that needs to be said, something never more poignant than now. If Schilling weren't so comfortable in the spotlight, if he didn't embrace the big moment as his moment to shine, the Diamondbacks would not be defending world champions."
In a feature on Finley, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that "Mutual admiration exists between the the veteran pitcher and his new team. Finley only read about the injuries and tragedies that peaked June 22 with the death of Darryl Kile. When Finley arrived, he became part of a close-knit team made tighter by its ordeal."
Carrie Muskat is a writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.