By Tim Keown
Page 2

Two things off the top:

No one can craft a good Curt Schilling yarn quite like Curt Schilling.

The guy has been all those things everybody keeps saying -- gutsy, tough, strong. But he's also been a little bit insufferable. His postgame press conference performance after Game 2 was typical: His manner is always gracious and unassuming, but his words are so self-reverent it's difficult to take.

Curt Schilling
Curt Schilling is doing his best to carry the Sox to a Series win -- and he's not shy about it.

In this business, we love a guy who answers a question with a story, kind of the way Schilling did Sunday when asked why he repeatedly said the day was the most incredible of his whole life. But when he went on and on about his determination to pitch despite the obstacles, and when he talked about seeing the signs on the way to the park extolling his toughness and wishing him luck, and when he repeatedly said he'd never use "God" and "unbelievable" in the same sentence ... well, he just sounded like a guy trying to write his own legend. He's Ken Burnsing himself right before our very eyes.

Fine, I guess, because he is creating a legend. It just seems like he wants to so badly he won't take no for an answer.

Ron Zook, on the other hand, has no choice. No is the only answer the University of Florida gave him. This comes after he coached under a constant barrage of criticism and second-guessing, raising a question: Is there another job on earth more overrated than being a head coach in either the NFL or at a high-profile college?

It looks like a stupid question at first glance, but think about it. There's prestige and glory and power -- don't underestimate the power -- but there's also a lot of miserable aspects to the existence.

The call-in shows and nutjob fans/alumni/talk-show callers is bad enough, but it's not the worst of it. The biggest problem, to me, is the perception of what it takes to be considered a hard worker in the business. It's gotten to the point where a guy who doesn't sleep in a cot in the office two or three nights a week is a slacker.

This Jon Gruden-induced fanaticism is pure insanity. Maybe it's time for someone to get a government grant to compare the won-loss records of the cot-sleepers with the guys who leave work at a decent hour, eat dinner at home and play with their kids before getting six or seven hours of sleep.

One thing is sure, though: Those guys living something close to a normal life better not let the word get out.

This Week's List

  • By the end of the fifth inning of Game 2 I knew everybody in the stands at Fenway Park, but that's not really the point of the exercise: A big part of the World Series experience is watching other people watch the same game I'd like to be watching but can't because I'm forced to watch these people watching what I can't.

  • Just imagine the outcry if a network missed three or four plays of a Super Bowl because of Egyptian Navigators or some other dopey commercial: It's the World Series, so is it too much to ask you guys to get us back to the game before the first pitch of the inning?

  • The destruction of the language is nearly complete, since it finally happened during a national network promo for a major sporting event: The voice-over guy said "verse" for "versus."

  • Maybe the Cardinals can find out who pitched for Iowa and get his butt on a plane for Game 3: Iowa 6, Penn State 4.

  • It's all set up for one thing in Game 3: Albert Pujols single-handedly destroying Pedro Martinez.

  • Just for the heck of it: Eddie Kasko.

  • And now, for his next act, watch Brendan Haywood doing the Guillermo Mota: In the Wizards-Bulls brawl -- in a late October Monday night exhibition game, no less -- Haywood took a no-look shot at Antonio Davis and then backpedaled faster than he's ever gotten back on D.

  • Judging by the verbal slapfight between Kobe Bryant and Ray Allen this week, one thing seems clear: Among colleagues in the NBA, Kobe will pay more for his selfishness in pulling rank on Phil Jackson and Shaq than he ever did for the rape charge.

  • And finally, immediately after the announcement, someone in Gainesville purchased the domain name Zook, fired Monday in what has to be described as the most self-inflicted unemployment since Dave Bliss.

    Tim Keown is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.

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