Curt Schilling: Mr. 3000

Wednesday, August 30 2006 @ 10:43 PM EDT

Contributed by: Mick Doherty

Love him or hate him -- I admit, I tend to the latter -- Curt Schilling has been one of the truly great (and I don't use that word lightly) pitchers of this generation. He's won World Series rings with more than one team, including a legendary melodramatic contribution to the Red Sox' first title since the Last Supper was being cooked. (Incidentally, Schillng is 8-2, 2.06 in 15 post-season starts. Nice Cooperstown bullet point, that.)

Today, Schilling became the 14th pitcher in major-league history to reach 3,000 career strikeouts. So here's my question ...

When and why did this Formerly Huge Milestone become basically an oh-by-they-way No Big Deal (not even the lead story on!) number?

I admit it, I remember the hoopla leading up to Bob Gibson's 3,000th K, way back in 1974, Sure, I was only eight years old, and sure, at the time, Gibby was only the second man to ever reach that mark, but even without the presence of ESPN and USA Today and all that other stuff that makes up today's media market, it was a Big Deal.

After Gibson came Gaylord Perry a few years later, then seven men did it in the period between 1980 and 1986 -- Ryan, Seaver, Carlton, Sutton, Jenkins, (Phil) Niekro and Blyleven -- then nobody again until Roger Clemens in 1998. Since then, just Randy Johnson in 2000 and Greg Maddux in '05. Pedro Martinez is just one or two typical -- make that "healthy" -- start/s (14 K) away from the mark, and John Smoltz may get there in 2008. But it's not like we've been overwhelmed with dozens of "cheap" career strikeout marks.

But this Schilling thing ... admit it, did you know it was coming? (I would have guessed his total to be about 2,600, more or less.) Now that it's here, do you think "Wow!" or just "Meh, strikeouts"?

What's going on?