A highly successful major league pitcher, Schilling thrived more often than not whenever he took the mound. He showed immense talent, grit and passion en route to a career that consisted of 216 wins, six All-Star appearances and three World Series rings.
Two of those World Series rings came with the Red Sox, a team that had gone 86 years without a title before Schilling's arrival. Yet there he was in 2004, a man amongst boys, shutting down the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS with one good ankle, and eventually picking up another win against the Cardinals in the World Series to help lead Boston to championship glory.
Schilling had a job to do after Theo Epstein brought him to Boston, and he did it. Couple that with the hurler's World Series performance in Arizona, and it's apparent that everything Schilling touched turned to gold.
But that's baseball. And while we're constantly reminded that baseball is a business, those actually playing the game are essentially the assets in the business equation. They're not heavily involved in team decision-making processes, and their finances are generally handled by agents. Therefore, to expect athletes to take the business world by storm upon retiring is unwise, as running a successful company is the exception rather than the norm.
That's not to say all athletes aren't business savvy. Saying such would be a gross generalization and unfair to those who have the potential to operate successful businesses. But when it comes to a state's finances, lawmakers must disregard athletic achievement and celebrity status, for what's truly important is doing what's in the state's best interest.
Schilling, by all accounts, is an intelligent guy. He's also outspoken on political issues, and he had become a very visible member of the New England community during his time in Boston. However, there's now an assumption that Schilling's star power may have played a role in the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp.'s decision to offer a $75 million loan guarantee to bring the former pitcher's 38 Studios video game company to Providence.
Lawmakers certainly envisioned Schilling making good on his promise to provide the state with jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue through the company, but that hasn't been the case. The company is instead in financial trouble, creating a snowball effect for the state of Rhode Island, which could be stuck with 38 Studios' debt should the company fold.
Things like this happen, as unfortunate as it may be, but one has to wonder why the state would invest such a hefty sum of cash into an unproven company led by an unproven businessman. The promises sounded nice, but the roll of the dice was one that even the most compulsive gambler would often stray from.
Rhode Island lawmakers should have ensured that Schilling's company was sustainable and in a position to succeed before he obtained the loan, and Schilling should have ensured the same. That ship has sailed, though, and it's now a matter of damage control for both parties.