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A grandstanding idiot.
I'm guessing if, while Gwynn was dying, Schilling had announced "Hey guys, I have cancer too! And mine's actually linked to chewing tobacco! Look at me!" it would have gone over very poorly.
Unfortunately, BTF tends to have an instant OTP:Politics reaction to anything regarding Schilling. Unfortunate. Politically, I have zero in common with Curt Schilling. I've never been a fan of the teams he played for. I have zero "investment" in Mr. Schilling. Nevertheless, I must say the BTF reaction toward him is beyond the pale. Dude has cancer. Lighten up. You don't agree with him, you don't think he's worthy of the HOF, fine. Still, lighten up, folks. Lighten up. Just lighten up.
Look, I wish him nothing but the best of health. But possibly the greatest baseball player of the past ~40 years died of oral cancer in the middle of his treatment for oral cancer, and both were caused by something that is currently taking the health of thousands of baseball players worldwide, and he said nothing at the time.
Published: April 26, 1998
A 15-year-old Curt Schilling was devouring lunch at Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix one afternoon when a friend dared him to try some smokeless tobacco for dessert. Schilling was a fastball-pumping pitcher and a maverick, so the challenge was really no challenge. Of course he would do it.
Schilling dipped his fingers into the moist tin of tobacco, placed some between his gums and lower lip and felt that dizzying rush that all first-time users experience. He liked it. Soon, he loved it. He kept doing it for 16 years while he developed into one of the premier pitchers in baseball. But six weeks ago, a dentist who was examining Schilling told him he should undergo a diagnostic biopsy. The dentist said Schilling might have cancer.
''I was terrified,'' Schilling said. ''Just terrified.''
This spring, 141 baseball players volunteered for screening by Dr. John C. Greene, the oral cancer specialist for Health America's National Spit Tobacco Education Program. Greene found that 83 had at least one tobacco-related oral lesion and recommended biopsies for 15 of them. Schilling was the only one who publicized his biopsy results...
...On March 17, doctors told Schilling that he had dysplasia, a condition in which the cells become disorganized -- the stage before malignancy. Schilling, who had a two-inch white lesion across his lower gums because he usually put tobacco there 10 times a day, had to find a way to stop. Immediately.
''Yes, I think by having the exam Curt potentially saved his life,'' said Greene, a former United States deputy surgeon general. ''There's a good probability that if he continued, it would have led to cancer.''
The tobacco industry takes issue with that. Alan Hilburg, a spokesman for the Smokeless Tobacco Council lobby in Washington, says it is unfair to automatically link tobacco use with cancer. ''It has not been scientifically established that smokeless tobacco causes adverse medical effects,'' Hilburg said. ''Clearly, there's a controversy over tobacco. Clearly, it's not as conclusive as some people want to think.''
But the biopsy and the chilling diagnosis was convincing enough to make Schilling finally stop.
''I want to be a great husband and a great father, with a full face,'' said Schilling, who is married with two children. ''I've seen people who've had half their heads taken off because of this stuff, and that didn't stop me. The thought of losing my family almost made it easy, as easy as it could possibly be, to quit.''
Quitting was not really easy, though; he had tried to stop before and had endured headaches and insomnia. The five powerful starts he has made this season are the first of his 13-year career in which he did not chew tobacco on the day he pitched....
...Schilling had plenty of reasons to quit. He had seen Pete Harnisch, his friend and former teammate with the Orioles and the Astros, struggle mightily while trying to give it up last season with the Mets. Schilling had been embarrassed when Gehrig, his 2 1/2-year-old son, told him that his breath stunk, and when his wife, Shonda, groused about finding cups filled with spit in the house.
Still, Schilling dipped. Even after having watched his father, Cliff, a heavy smoker, get lung cancer and die of an aortic aneurysm 10 years ago. Even though he left a ticket for his father and an empty seat beside Shonda for each of his starts, Schilling continued to dip. Why?
''It was always a 'not me' thing,'' he said. ''That's the way I think it is with everyone who dips. You hear the argument that my father did it until he was 80 and my grandfather did it until he was 100. That's perfectly valid. They might have, but the odds are that you won't do it that long.''
Harnisch spoke with Schilling about the addiction last year, but had no advice because he approached it blindly. After starting to use tobacco during his freshman year at Fordham University, in 1985, Harnisch had severe difficulties when he tried to quit at the start of the 1997 season. He feels it helped trigger a chemical imbalance that led to depression and caused him to miss most of the season.
''Curt's got people helping him, and he's doing it on a gradual basis,'' said Harnisch, now with the Cincinnati Reds. ''I didn't know what I was up against. I didn't bother asking for help.''
The education program counseled Schilling on setting a quit date, obtaining support from his family and teammates and using a six-week nicotine patch...
...Jeff Cooper, the Phillies' trainer and a reformed dipper, has monitored Schilling the way a mother monitors a 2-year-old at a busy playground. He weaned Schilling off the nicotine patch in three weeks.
''He made the right decision because he knew this would drastically alter his life,'' Cooper said. ''I don't want to find out if he can be a cancer survivor.''
Neither does Schilling. His sense of smell and taste have returned after a decade, and his gums no longer bleed, although he is coping with high blood pressure and a slightly murky future.
''I could have gotten cancer when I was 24, died and never had a wife or kids,'' he said. ''I'm lucky I'm 31 and, right now, I'm O.K. physically. There's still a chance. Until this heals completely, I'm not scot-free.''...
...The urge to dip still comes to Schilling. He estimated that they last about 90 seconds. While he had 40 such cravings in the first day after quitting, he said proudly that he had only three last week.
He acknowledges that when he sees teammates sitting near him chewing tobacco, he feels the temptation to do it again, but he is confident he will not give in.
''I've been in situations that were bad enough already for me emotionally and where I would have loved to have one,'' he said. ''I'm not going to want one any more than I do right now. I can guarantee you that I won't reach for it.''
We're just gonna let "possibly the greatest baseball player of the past ~40 years" slide?
I think the amount of publicity a person wants to draw to his illness is his business and not anyone else's.
A grandstanding idiot
Throw in his postseason record and terrific moments and narrative, and I just really don't understand how 75% of the voters don't see him for the first ballot Hall of Famer he is. It's just absurd.
He could have saved lives,
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