By: John Molori
May 02, 2005

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THIS WEEK:

- The Kruk stops here
- On the radio

ESPN's Kruk sounds off on Schilling

For three years, they were teammates in Philadelphia and led the Phillies to the 1993 World Series, but ESPN analyst John Kruk and Red Sox ace Curt Schilling are anything but bunkmates these days. In the wake of the Red Sox-Devil Rays bean ball wars, both Schilling and Kruk had much to say.

Schilling blamed Rays' manager Lou Piniella for the ongoing fracas and said that during the brawl, a Devil Rays player called Piniella an "idiot" and faulted Piniella for the team's dismal record. Schilling also stated that Piniella has lost touch with the game.

On ESPN, Kruk responded by saying that Schilling was out of line to criticize such an accomplished manager as Piniella. On Sports Radio WEEI last week, hosts John Dennis and Gerry Callahan asked Schilling what he thought of Kruk's assertion that David Ortiz' and Manny Ramirez' bat flips following home runs incite opposing pitchers to throw inside.

Schilling said that Kruk's comments were "crap" and that Kruk was just trying to stir things up. "I may call that station and ask for a tape of the interview because I never said that about Ortiz or Ramirez," Kruk told Media Blitz. "Manny is an exemplary player. I wish I could have played with him, and Ortiz was right to be upset when (Rays' pitcher Lance) Carter threw at his head.

"All I said was that in a tense situation between two teams, it's not a good idea for any player to admire his work after hitting a home run. I mean, when Jay Payton hit his grand slam against Tampa, he just stood there. Younger pitchers feel that this is disrespectful. That's a big word these days. Hit the ball and get out of there."

Overall, Kruk is concerned about the ongoing Boston-Tampa battle. "I' ve never seen a fight carry over for two or three years," says Kruk, who beat out NESN's Dennis Eckersley for the ESPN gig.

"I've talked to the league and they'd prefer to let the players police themselves, but it's not working. Guys have to play the game the right way and stop getting so pissed off. At some point, cooler heads have to prevail."

As for Schilling's comments about Piniella, Kruk states, "That's Curt. He's going to say whatever he feels like saying because he thinks he's always right. He doesn't care what anyone else thinks. The thing here is that Curt is not right. Piniella has never left the game. How can he be out of touch? Curt needs to stop talking so much and concentrate on what he needs to do to come back and pitch."

Kruk says that he and Schilling were "not really close" as teammates with the Phillies. "I played with guys in Philly who liked to fight, but we never looked for a fight," says the 44 year-old Kruk. "Curt is just adding fuel to the fire. I don't know why he would want to continue this. I mean, it seems like Curt has ample opportunities to hear himself on radio, TV and in the newspaper."

Schilling was equally vociferous when he played in Philadelphia, but Kruk says that veteran leadership ruled. "I know Boston has Jason Varitek, but we had (catcher) Darren Daulton, the best leader I ever saw. When Curt would talk too much, Darren would take him aside and tell him that we were not about that. When you're young, you listen."

Kruk says that Schilling's affinity for the spotlight has rubbed some former teammates the wrong way. He states, "When people become successful, they don't necessarily become smarter.

"I'm not around the Red Sox, but I've talked to people who played with Curt and they do resent that he talks so much. In fact, a former Phillies teammate still wants a piece of him. Look, of all the pitchers of the last 10 or 15 years, Curt would be the guy I'd want to pitch a big game, but the rest of the time, he says a lot of things he shouldn't say."

Kruk says he would welcome the chance to debate Schilling on-air about any of these issues. As for Schilling's assertion that a Tampa Bay player criticized Piniella, he has his doubts. "First of all, players don't talk to each other like that in a scrum," says Kruk, who played ten seasons with the Padres, Phillies and White Sox.

"If a guy wanted to get that point across, he'd tell the media. Well, I guess there's not much difference between telling the media and telling Curt. Look, I know stuff about Curt and this Tampa situation, but I'm not going to say them. There are things I know that could bury people. I just don' t know why Curt would call out Piniella like that. I guess it's easy when he doesn't have to bat."

Radio report

WEEI's Glenn Ordway was fantastic in analyzing the Celtics' Game 3 loss at Indiana. Ordway said that C's coach Doc Rivers failed to adjust to changes made by Indy coach Rick Carlisle and that the Celtics had to come out and pressure Reggie Miller and the Pacers' outside shooters. Watching the Celtics win Game 4 was like listening to Ordway all over again. He is simply the most insightful hoops analyst in the region, bar none.

AM 1510's Eddie Andelman is broadcasting from Suffolk Downs every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, Noon-3:00 p.m., starting next week and will be at the track this Friday to preview the Kentucky Derby. WWZN will carry all three Triple Crown races. Andelman's co-host slate includes Nick Cafardo on Mondays, Rico Petrocelli on Tuesdays and Ron Borges on Wednesdays. Sean McDonough and Gerry Cheevers will be Grand Marshals for Andelman's "Hot Dog Safari" on May 22.

WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan" featured a captivating interview with Patriots' personnel guru Scott Pioli last week. While many experts thought that Pats' first round pick Logan Mankins was a reach, Pioli revealed that if New England had not taken the Fresno State lineman with pick number 32, he would have been taken at 33 or 34 by another team. The exchange also clearly defined the Pats draft philosophy of picking the best players for THEIR system.

In the ultimate case of "don't shoot the messenger," kudos must go out to AM 1510 Celtics play-by-play-man Sean Grande. OK, so the broadcasts are inaudible in some areas due to AM 1510's poor signal. Don't blame Grande. When you can hear his voice, you are truly listening to one of the pre-eminent broadcasters in the game. Grande's call is dramatic, pointed and accurate, and his setups for analyst Cedric Maxwell are positively Bud Abbottesque.

In the breaking news race, WEEI was last week's big winner. On Friday at about 1:20 p.m., Dale Arnold and Jon Wallach, ably filling in for Michael Holley, had the complete list of managers and players suspended from the Red Sox-Devil Rays brawl. AM 1510's 1:25 p.m. sports report stated that managers Terry Francona and Lou Piniella had been suspended, but that players names had yet to be released. In addition, after ESPN reported that Doug Flutie was close to a deal with the Giants, WEEI's "Big Show" sports flasher Pete Sheppard earned his reporters' stripes by burning up the phone lines and breaking the news of Flutie signing with the Patriots. Great work.

John Molori's columns are published in The Providence Journal, The Boston Metro, The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, The Salem Evening News, The Newburyport Daily News, The Gloucester Times, The Lowell Sun, Patriots Football Weekly, Boston Sports Review, New England Hockey Journal, The RemyReport.com, PatsFans.com, BostonSportsReview.com, BostonSportsMedia.com and MethuenOnline.com. Email John at JOMOL3@aol.com.


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