This would be perfect for an editorial cartoon: Curt Schilling, enormous and menacing on the mound, unleashes a sizzling fastball. Standing at the plate with a skinny bat is Phillies general manager Ed Wade.
Two days after Schilling demanded in a national conference call that the Phillies spend more money or trade him, Wade distributed a two-page, point-by-point rebuttal Friday in which he said Schilling was "self-serving" and "wrong."
"Curt has a right to express his opinions," Wade said. "But that's all they are. Much of what Curt says is irresponsible and his comments often are not based upon facts."
"Every fifth day, Curt has the opportunity to go out and be a horse on the mound. Unfortunately, on the other four days, he tends to say things which are detrimental to the club and clearly self-serving."
On Wednesday, Schilling was the guest on major league baseball's weekly conference call with the national media. As Wade pointed out in his statement, "Baseball uses the call to promote the game and its star players."
"However, Curt used the call as a forum to discuss the Phillies' finances, the team's ownership group and his personal feelings about the direction of the club."
Did he ever.
"For us to be successful and to compete and to win, they're going to have to go out and get a big player. We're short right now," Schilling said. "They told us they're not ready to pay in the Randy Johnson financial territory. If they signed Randy Johnson this winter, would we be contenders? If you bring in Randy Johnson, Brad Radke, Kenny Rogers, you name it, we'd be a legitimate contender."
Schilling met with team president David Montgomery Thursday night during the team's exhibition game against its Class A affiliate in Moosic, Pa. Montgomery did not return a call Friday, and Wade said he was told it was a "private meeting."
"I don't think that it's necessary for me to schedule a time to meet with him," Wade said. "I'm finished with it. I said hello to him last night, and he said hello to me."
The Phillies began the season with a $30.36 million payroll, the fourth lowest in the National League. Despite that, the Phillies were 21-18 Friday, trailing NL East leader Atlanta by 3½ games.
"Curt had a chance to promote his own performance and that of his teammates," Wade said. "He had a chance to talk about Mike Lieberthal, Scott Rolen, Doug Glanville, Paul Byrd, and others. And maybe he did."
Schilling did praise some teammates, notably pitcher Carlton Loewer, saying the right-hander is "going to be an impact pitcher."
"But all the positives he could have gotten out of that forum were negated by his comments about areas in which he is uninformed," Wade said. "It's unfortunate that he chose to use the spotlight and do something other than put his bst foot forward."
Schilling, off to a 7-1 start, has a complete no-trade clause in his contract, which pays him $10.8 million this year and next with an option for 2001 at $6.5 million.
He has said repeatedly he is willing to waive the clause to be traded to a contender, and frequently turns postgame interviews into impromptu rip sessions directed toward Montgomery and chairman Bill Giles. After beating Kevin Brown and the Dodgers on May 2, Schilling said, "It's been six years since we've played good baseball on a consistent basis here. It's up to the Phillies ownership to get the players and put a good team out there."
"What message does that comment send to his teammates?" Wade said.
After the conference call Wednesday, Schilling elaborated on his comments in Montreal.
"If we're knocking on the door and they stand pat, I'd want to go," Schilling said. "If ownership is not willing to make a trade or spend in July, they need to sell the team and give the Philadelphia fans what they deserve."
Wade declined to expound on his statement. Some excerpts:
On acquiring more pitching: "We've been trying to upgrade our rotation since the end of last season and will continue to try. We haven't turned down any trade for starting pitchers because of dollars."
On Schilling's belief that Forbes Magazine's report that the Phillies made a profit in 1998 was correct, and the team's assertion that it lost money was not: "I've been in all the ownership group's meetings since December 1997, and I've seen the bottom line. The team has lost significant dollars."
On Schilling's trade demand: "Curt does not have a `trade me' clause. He has a `no trade' clause, which means he can refuse to be traded to any team. If we ever decide we want to trade Curt, he'll have his say. But Curt does not have the total say in this."
Wade insisted that the controversy would "absolutely not" affect a decision to trade his ace.
©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed