Curt Shilling is wrong about evolution, but his response to Internet trolls was commendable and enough to make this Yankees fan cheer.

As a New York Yankees fan – as well as someone who supports science and knows that evolution is real – I’ve never been a fan of Curt Shilling.


But when Shilling took to Twitter last week to congratulate his daughter on her invitation to pitch for the Salve Regina University baseball team, Internet trolls emerged from under their bridges in numbers that Shilling never expected.

“I expected the trolls. The one kid kind of came at me and said, ‘I can’t wait to take your daughter out.’ Kind of borderline stuff, which again, I expected. I’ve been on the Internet since, I started playing on computers in 1980, so I understand how it works and I knew there would be stuff. The stuff that they did, that is not bad or vile, it’s illegal. It’s against the law.”

“When that started -- again, I thought it might be a one-off, but then it started to steamroll. And then [my daughter] started to get private correspondence and then I said 'OK, this needs to get fixed.’ This generation of kids doesn’t understand, and adults too, doesn’t understand that the Internet is not even remotely anonymous.”

Shilling went on the offensive, attacking the trolls on his blog and identifying a handful of the offenders.

One of the offenders – a part-time ticket-seller for the Yankees – has been fired, the team’s director of communications confirmed to Another, a student at a community college in New Jersey, was reportedly suspended from school.

As the victim of an large scale, anonymous attack on my professional credibility several years ago, I understand the power that a person has when they hide behind the curtain of anonymity and hurl false accusations and libelous statements at people who are unable to confront their accusers. I also understand how anonymity can embolden a person to say terrible things that they would never dare say in public.

Shilling refers to his not-so-anonymous offenders as “garbage” on his blog. I have often called them cowards, but I like garbage a lot, too.


Unlike Shilling, I was never able to positively identify the persons responsible in my case, mostly because the cowards (or pieces of garbage) used old fashioned paper and ink, thereby eliminating any digital trail (though the search for their identities remains active). As a staunch  advocate of free speech, I believe in the power of using that freedom to publicly identify people who make threats and spout hatred and vulgarity online.

It’s time to pull back that curtain of electrons and force people to own their words.  

Shilling may be wrong when it comes to evolution, and that stupid bloody sock may have been completely overblown, but when it comes to his response to Internet trolls, Shilling has my full support.  

The sooner we let these cretins know that they cannot hide behind their computer screens, the sooner they will crawl back under their bridges and leave the rest of us alone.

Baseball pitchers are cowards. All of them.

Last night Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster threw four consecutive pitches at Alex Rodriguez. The first nearly hit him in the legs. The next two were tight inside. The fourth finally hit him in the elbow and ribs.

These pitches were intentional. No one debates this. Obviously Dempster is not pleased with Rodriguez’s use of performance enhancing drugs. Even as a Yankees fan, I am not pleased. I’d prefer that Rodriquez be banned from baseball permanently, and I’d like to see every other PHD user banned for life, Yankees included/

I’m also not so naïve as to forget that beloved Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was also busted for steroid not that long ago.

But here’s the thing about last night’s incident and incidents similar to it:

Baseball pitchers are cowards. All of them. Even my beloved Yankees.

Long ago, it became acceptable for a pitcher to throw a ball at an opposing batter for any number of ridiculous reasons. Sometimes it’s in retaliation for a previously plunked batter, even if the previous incident was clearly accidental. Sometimes pitchers hit batters because they don’t like the way the batter trotted around the bases after a homerun or the length of time a batter spent admiring a homerun ball. Sometimes pitchers are upset because the batter stole a base when his team was leading by four runs or the batter hit too many homeruns in a single game or the batter said something unacceptable to the media.

Pitchers stand 60 feet away from their nearly defenseless victims and throw a rock-hard ball 80-90 miles per hour at their legs, backs, elbows and shoulders. Sometimes their aim is not true and they hit a head.

Like a said: They are all a bunch of cowards.

Can you imagine if this happened outside a baseball game?

My neighbor is offended by something I say or do, and in retaliation, he throws a rock at my knees from behind his backyard fence.

Or my colleague is displeased with the way I’m boasting about a recent performance review, so in retaliation, he throws a shoe at me from across the room.

These things don’t happen in the real world, not only because these actions would seem stupid, childish and possibly criminal, but because the real world is not populated with nearly as many cowards as you can find in a major league bullpen.

Is there anything less honorable than throwing a ball at a man who is forced to stand in a small, chalk-outlined box and wait for it to happen?

And then if the batter retaliates by charging the mound to fight the coward who just threw a ball at him, the batter is thrown from the game and possibly fined for his actions.

In baseball, you’re punished for acting like a man and attempting to at least fight fair.

Last night Alex Rodriguez got the last laugh by hitting the game-winning homerun. There’s no better revenge than winning, and sadly, there is no other revenge available to Rodriguez, since he is not a pitcher.

Leave it to the Red Sox to make Alex Rodriguez, the most hated man in baseball (and justifiably so), appear sympathetic, at least for a moment.

Difficulty staying Faithful

I finished reading Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season by Stephen King and Stuart O’Nan, and while I enjoyed the bo0k, I have a few quibbles with it as well.


As a Yankees fan, I knew that reading the book would be difficult. The 2004 baseball season was the worst in Yankees history. After taking a 3-0 lead over the Red Sox in the battle for the pennant, the Yankees became the only team in baseball history to lose the next four games and thus lose the series.

This would be heart wrenching regardless of the opponent, but the fact that it was the Red Sox made it exponentially worse.

Still, I wanted to read this book. I’ve read everything else that Stephen King has ever written, and I adore the man.

While I haven’t quite read everything Stuart O’Nan has written yet, I like what I’ve read so far. More importantly, he was my professor for a writing class at Trinity College, so I got to know him a little bit and liked him a lot.

Even though I knew it would be hard to listen to these men describe the events of that 2004 postseason, I thought that I would be happy for them as well. As a native New Englander who grew up near Boston, I understand the suffering the Sox fans had endured. They deserved to win. At least this is what I had convinced myself of when I dove into the book.

I have three complaints about the book, and they all pertain to O’Nan.

First and most surprising, O’Nan engages in conspiracy mongering several times in the book, implying with all seriousness that baseball might be fixed. A remarkable confluence of events seem (in his mind) to be too dramatic and convenient to be anything but orchestrated, and he says as much more than once. King actually dismisses these claims at one point in the book, and rightly so. Like King, I find this kind of conspiracy theory nonsense to be exactly that:

Nonsense. But I know there is a small but vocal minority of sports fans who feel this way.

Yet when the long haired, loose-lipped Cowboy-up Red Sox of 2004 overcome a 3-0 deficit against a corporate team with twice the payroll that has embraced the moniker of the Evil Empire with enthusiasm, there is not a single mention of conspiracy theories to be found.

This annoyed me. If you’re going to imply that the fix is in several times over the course of the baseball season, you can’t ignore what would seem like one of the most orchestrated moments in the last 100 years of baseball.

Second, O’Nan is less than magnanimous when it comes to the Yankees. King has no love for my beloved team, but he is not mean-spirited about the team, either, He does not call them cheaters or question their character. O’Nan does so repeatedly, and it is not necessary.

Lastly, the nicknames that O’Nan uses when discussing the Red Sox players in the book made me bonkers. Nicknames have always been a part of baseball, but O’Nan takes it to an entirely new and truly bizarre level. Most of my friends are Red Sox fans, but I never heard them refer to Mark Bellhorn as Marky Mark, Pedro Martinez as Petey or David Ortiz as El Hefe (especially since Ortiz already has the often-used nickname Big Papi). It makes no sense. Was O’Nan inventing these nicknames himself, or did he hear some inebriated bleacher creature use these names and co-opted them for the book.

A good nickname is a thing of beauty. Naming your utility infielder after a former Boston-based hip hop musician turned serious actor is an act of stupidity.

Then again, I’m a diehard fan of the New York Yankees who died hard in October of 2004, so perhaps I am biased.  

I hate the Red Sox, but I love these guys

I’m listening to the book Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season by Stephen King and Stuart O’Nan. It’s essentially a double-entry journal that chronicles the Red Sox for one season. It’s full of traditional journal entries, email exchanges, summaries of phone calls between the two men, and recollections of games they attended alone and together.

Even though I am a Yankees fan, I’m enjoying the book a lot, though I suspect I will enjoy it much less once I reach the postseason entries. By some stroke of genius, King and O’Nan chose to work on this book during the season in which the Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918.

Lucky bastards.

But having grown up in Massachusetts, I spent a lot of time around Red Sox fans, so listening to what King and O’Nan have to say about the team and the game of baseball is a little bit like going home.

I also like both writers a lot.

O’Nan taught at creative writing at Trinity College during my time there, and I was fortunate enough to squeeze in one class with him before he left. I’ve heard him speak a few times since then, and I’ve read several of his books, including most recently LAST NIGHT AT THE LOBSTER. Years ago I read his nonfiction account of the Hartford Circus Fire, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Stephen King has become a bit of a hero to me, for several reasons.

Growing up without very few books in my home, it wasn’t until I was granted my own library card that I really began reading and falling in love with books, and many of those first books were written by Stephen King. NIGHT SHIFT, DIFFERENT SEASONS, THE SHINING, and CUJO were just a few of the novels I read that first summer, and I loved every one of them.

Eventually I would go on to read all of King’s work, including IT, which I have read at least a dozen times, and his Dark Tower series, which I consider a genuine masterpiece.

Two decades later, it would be another one of King’s books, ON WRITING, that would inspire me to continue writing when the possibility of a writing career felt impossible and hopeless. The first half of ON WRITING is an autobiographical account of King’s life as a writer, including his very humble beginnings as a short story writer for men’s magazines.  The image of Stephen King siting in the laundry room of his trailer, shoved against the washing machine, unable to afford medicine for his sick children, sent me back to the laptop ready and willing to conquer the beast.

At the age of ten, Stephen King opened my mind to the world of books and reading, and thirty years later, I have now joined his fraternity. It’s an incredible feeling. Sort of like idolizing a ballplayer as a kid and then finding yourself playing alongside that same player someday.

In reading FAITHFUL, I’ve learned a few things about King that I did not know, specifically in terms of his approach to time management. It turns out that he and I have a lot in common in this regard.

While watching the Red Sox game, King has a book in his lap, and in between innings, he will read. He estimates that he can read about 40 pages during the average baseball game.

I have also been known to do this, in addition to spending commercial breaks listening to audiobooks and podcasts or pounding away at the laptop. From time to time I’ve also been known to listen to an audiobook while watching television, especially when the show is somewhat mindless and predictable.

Even more impressive, King writes about how he will listen to the ballgame on his car radio but switch over to an audiobook in between innings, timing the two minute commercial break with his wrist watch.

Similarly, I can be found at the gym with two sets of headphones when running on the elliptical. One is a wireless pair connected to my iPhone, through which I am undoubtedly listening to an audiobook or podcast. The second pair is attached to the machine so I can listen to the television affixed to it. I will switch between these two headphones during a workout in order to take advantage of commercial breaks, which has caused more than one fellow gym rat to stare at me in confusion. Yesterday, for example, I was watching the replay of the Yankees game from the day before as I worked out, and similar to King, I would switch headphones between innings and listen to my book, which happened to be King and O’Nan discussing the Red Sox “June swoon.”

Fear not, boys. Things will turn around for the Sox soon enough.

I’ve often thought that if Stephen King and I had the chance to get to know one another, we would be fast friends. While this is unlikely to ever happen, I do hope that he reads one of my books someday, which isn’t asking much considering the number of books the man reads on a yearly basis. I wouldn't even need to know if he liked the book or not. Just knowing that the author who inspired a ten year old boy to read and a thirty year old man to write picked up one of my novels would be enough for me.