Until two weeks ago, Curt Schilling thought the widely-reported Jan. 20 ESPN memo to all talent telling employees to follow the election coverage guidelines they’d posted publicly near the start of January was a media hoax. Schilling has come under fire this week for comments he made Tuesday on Kansas City’s 610 KCSP that if Hillary Clinton gave classified information in e-mails on a public server, “she should be buried under a jail somewhere,” and he joined The Dennis And Callahan Show with John Dennis, Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane in-studio on Boston’s WEEI 93.7 FM Thursday morning to discuss those comments. Amongst the comments he made this time was the revelation that ESPN’s politics memo wound up in his spam folder, that he thought it only applied to discussing politics on ESPN platforms, and that no one from ESPN has talked to him yet despite their “we are addressing it” statement. Here’s the full audio (the relevant part starts around 1:20):
“I heard the word earlier, hyperbole was a perfect word for that, and the whole commentary was, you know, you guys said something as I was driving in yesterday, as I left yesterday, about ESPN had sent out a memo regarding on-air talent talking about politics,” Schilling said. “Okay, right hand of God, I didn’t get that until about two weeks ago because it was in my spam folder. And that’s not an excuse, but…”
“But you had it when you were on the show yesterday? You knew about it then?” one of the hosts interjected.
“No, I’d heard before that, and I was like ‘What is this memo? People are making this up! Whatever,'” Schilling said. “And when I read that thing, my assumption was ‘They don’t want us talking about politics in an ESPN setting, whether that be radio or television.’ I don’t know, I’m assuming that probably ended up not being right, I haven’t heard from anybody, I haven’t heard anything. But the challenge for me was that it was an hour. I was talking with Rex Hudler, a former teammate of mine, Kansas City radio, the Royals and all that, we talked for 55 minutes about everything — baseball, teammates, stories. And this came at the end and this is the thing [that got talked about].” (Note; that’s not entirely true, as the Clinton comments came around 28:00 in that interview and that discussion went on for quite a while.)
Schilling went on to say that he’s not purposefully trying to stir the pot.
“I think people assume that I’m saying things to rile other people up,” he said. “I say what I believe, and I’m passionate about what I believe. That doesn’t make me right, it just makes me me. And I’m okay with that. I sleep good at night.”
“But what they did to you with the Muslim extremist meme was, to me, dishonest, and what they’re doing to you now, judging by the websites I’ve seen, is dishonest,” one of the hosts chimed in. “They leave out the qualifier ‘If she’s guilty, if she did it.'” It’s kind of like what Hubbuch did to Minihane.”
“But what I would say is you do think she did it though, right?” another one added.
“Right, but at the end of the day, what it’s going to come down to, if you look at what happened with the grand jury now, with the immunity to the one witness, if you walk that backwards, that tells you everything we were wondering about has been done,” Schilling said.
“But the other problem is there’s inconsistency within ESPN’s memo,” a host said. “If you had gone on there yesterday and said ‘I think Hillary Clinton’s a great woman, I’ve met her, I think she’d be a great leader for this country, my guess is they wouldn’t say to you, ‘Hey Curt, that’s politics, no politics.'”
“Yeah, I don’t know that, but my assumption…I didn’t get the memo, I didn’t need to get the memo, we’ve talked about this” Schilling said. “But I wasn’t in an ESPN forum, and I didn’t call in to talk about Hillary Clinton or politics or the election, I called to do an old teammate a favor because I couldn’t do it the week before.”
“But your belief was that the memo dealt with when you’re on Baseball Tonight, Monday Night Baseball, don’t talk about politics?” a host asked.
“Yes. I assumed it was directed at the sports guys because, you know, they talk about politics,” Schilling said. “They talk about the Black Lives Matter movement and all the stuff that’s going on the world, they have a bunch of shows that actually talk about that and how athletes and sports are integrated into those things, so I just assumed it was like ‘Analysts for baseball, football, whatever, don’t do this on our radio, don’t do this on our television.'”
Schilling went on to say he hasn’t heard from anyone in ESPN management, and he only found out about the controversy from a conversation with Baseball Tonight host Karl Ravech Wednesday.
“I have not. I talked to Karl Ravech last night, which is how I found out, because he called me and asked ‘What are you doing?’, and I was like ‘What are you talking about?’ He’s like ‘What the hell are you doing?’ and I said “Explain to me what you’re talking about,’ because it was a quick, off-the-cuff, no one cares, and then I realized, he forwarded me a headline on Deadspin I think it was, and I’m like, ‘Okay, if that is a headline, I’m in trouble.’ Because I don’t do no comment.” (Really, “Curt Schilling Is Back With Some Takes On Hillary Clinton And Donald Trump” is a problematic headline?)
“Well, once Deadspin gets started, then the ball starts rolling,” a host chimes in. “That’s where the trouble begins.”
“They can feel free to edit it and Hubbuch it and not be honest like they were last year on the meme, on the Muslim extremists,” another one adds.
“Right, but that’s why I don’t get mad, because they’re not saying something truthful about me,” Schilling said. “I know who I am, I know what I do and what I say, and I know that there are things that I am and things that I do and things that I say that piss people off.”
“But they’re trying to get you fired, though! Doesn’t that piss you off? It pisses me off!” one of the hosts said.
“If my employer fires me because of that, then it wasn’t meant to be,” Schilling said.
They then go on to discuss Schilling’s suspension and presumed demotion to Monday Night Baseball in favor of Jessica Mendoza, and while Schilling had some praise for Mendoza and said she’s “really good at what she does,” he still had some apparent criticism for her and for the company (near 7:00).
“She can’t know pitching like I know pitching, but that’s not her fault, she didn’t pitch in the big leagues, I did,” he said. “I think ESPN is very proud of themselves that they put a woman in a play-by-play booth before anyone else.”
Given that ESPN has traditionally been much harsher on ESPN-on-ESPN criticism than anything else, those comments might prove problematic for Schilling too. But he seems set for whatever happens; as Steve DelVecchio noted at Larry Brown Sports Thursday, Schilling told a fan on Facebook Wednesday that he’s assuming they’ll fire him if they do take any action.
We’ll see what, if anything, ESPN decides to do over the Schilling situation.