Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

Curt Schilling Throws a Measurement Fastball Straight Down the Middle


Communications measurement pros can learn a vital lesson about the value of measurement and messages from recently fired ESPN analyst Curt Schilling: It helps to know something about the batter before you throw the pitch.

That’s Curt’s bloody red sock during Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship.

Retired All-Star Schilling is one of the more successful baseball pitchers of all time. Especially so here in New England, where he was instrumental in ending the Curse of the Bambino while at the same time achieving ultimate Red Sox sainthood for his famous Bloody Sock pitching against the Yankees.

Schilling has always been known for his outspoken views; they helped to land him a commentator gig on ESPN. And, by way of his foul-territory social media commentary, they are what got him canned, too.

Schilling’s lack of wind-up for his social media activity is what is instructive to measurement fans. In a recent interview with Dan Patrick in Sports Illustrated, Schilling says:

“Have you ever known me to sit back and say, ‘Well, wait, let me measure [the response to my comments on social media] and make sure that it will be received in the way that no one’s toes will get stepped on?’ ”

The lesson here for CEOs and organizational spokespeople is: Research your audience before you craft your messages.

Extra innings: And here’s a special treat for you baseball fans, an analysis of Schilling’s downfall from Ed the Metaphoric Commentary Guy:

“Schilling worked his way through the middle innings leaning on his fastball, throwing heat that became increasingly erratic. A wild pitch cost the Red Sox a run. He almost beaned the next batter, and a brawl was narrowly averted.

The catcher called time out and made a trip to the mound, no doubt urging Schilling to mix in some other pitches or expect to lose the game. The pitching coach stomped out to join them, and was seen to wave his hands vigorously. A TV close-up had to be blurred to avoid offending lip readers.

Alas, Schilling wouldn’t or couldn’t take advice. He proceeded to load the bases, then chucked another flaming fastball right down the middle. The batter was all over it, smacking it 475 feet, according to the stadium’s homer-meter. For Schilling, it was all over.


Bill Paarlberg
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Bill Paarlberg

Bill Paarlberg co-founded The Measurement Standard in 2002 and was its editor until July 2017. He also edits The Measurement Advisor newsletter. He is editor of the award-winning "Measuring the Networked Nonprofit" by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine, and editor of two other books on measurement by Katie Paine, "Measure What Matters" and "Measuring Public Relationships." Visit Bill Paarlberg's page on LinkedIn.
Bill Paarlberg
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