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The sad state of Curt Schilling, who should be front and center as the Celtics comeback begins

Tomase: Lamenting Schilling’s dark turn when Celtics channel ’04 Red Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

As the Celtics try to steal a piece of that 2004 Red Sox magic, I’m reminded of the one player they absolutely can’t invite to Boston.

If you want David Ortiz, he waves the green flag and flashes his World Series rings as the fans erupt. Place Pedro Martinez and his mischievous smile on the Jumbotron and watch the building explode. Give Kevin Millar a cowboy hat and a bottle of Jack and you’ve got a battle cry.

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But Curt Schilling, the man whose blood-soaked stockings in 2004 symbolized that unlikely comeback against the Yankees as much as anyone else, the man who should own Boston like Mike Eruzione or Cedric Maxwell or Adam Vinatieri? If the Celtics beat the Heat in Game 6 and force a decisive Game 7 on Monday, Schilling wouldn’t be allowed to come within 1,000 miles of the Garden, not that it’s a concern. The Celtics would never invite him, nor would he accept.

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It is a stunning, unnecessary and self-inflicted fall from grace. I am in the minority, but I would also call it tragic.

Even in his most likable manner, Schilling exuded pomposity and arrogance. There’s a reason teammates mockingly called him “Top-step Schill” because of his inauthentic rah-rah attitude. Phillies GM Ed Wade famously suggested that every fifth day Schilling was a horse, and the other four a horse’s hindquarters.

And yet there was something charming about the big man who had an opinion about everything and acted like a six-foot-tall melodrama. He enjoyed sparring with the media and wasn’t afraid to call out the other guys. When the Yankees stole Alex Rodriguez from the Red Sox in the winter of 2004, a move seemingly destined to extend the curse forever, Schilling snorted that it would be so much more fun if the Red Sox won the World Series.

And then they went out and did it, overcoming a 3-0 deficit in the American League Championship Series, the crucial victory came in Game 6 when Schilling underwent emergency ankle surgery and then dominated for seven innings as the stitches burst and blood his sock stained . He said he couldn’t think of anything more fun than gagging 55,000 New Yorkers and I mean come on – bleeding to beat the Yankees in their own building? That’s enough to cement the legendary Red Sox status for several lifetimes.

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Except it didn’t work that way, not even close. Schilling finished his career with a final postseason victory, defeating the Rockies in Game 3 of the 2007 World Series en route to another title. He retired with 11 playoff wins and a legitimate claim as the greatest postseason pitcher ever. He earned credit alongside Ortiz as the most pivotal figure in Red Sox history, as it cannot be overstated what his confidence meant to end an 86-year title drought, and without the former, there wouldn’t be three are those that followed.

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He stayed in Boston and took $75 million in loans to start a video game company that imploded, hooking the Rhode Island taxpayer. He moved to the broadcast booth where he was a great lead analyst for ESPN before the trouble started.

A standard John McCain Republican during his Red Sox tenure, Schilling drifted into the culture warring fever swamps. He posted offensive memes mocking transgender people and joked about lynching reporters. He lost his mainstream platforms, launched a podcast on the Breitbart network, blew his shot at induction into the Hall of Fame, and retreated to the darkest corners of the online sewer, where he sadly remains.

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It only takes five seconds on his verified Twitter page to see Schilling continue to be hopelessly toxic, his posts post a mix of racist memes, threats of Christian violence, and the standard far-right demonization of liberals as pedophiles, etc. . . It would be sad if it wasn’t so mean.

Schilling now feels beyond intervention, beyond rehabilitation. An organization as socially conscious as the Celtics could never let him into the building, even if he were the first person to ask for inspiration in the face of insurmountable odds.

It didn’t have to be, as Schilling once represented the very best sport in Boston. The fact that he chose his fate doesn’t make it any less tragic that we lost him.

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