CURT SCHILLING considers Roger Clemens to be one of his heroes. And given the latest controversies surrounding both, that's a funny thing.

As he did with Houston, Roger has worked his contract so he can skip short road trips in which he is not scheduled to start.

Many speculate that his teammates are secretly annoyed by that.

As was the case in Philly, Curt wants to be around his teammates all the time - before starts, after starts, between starts.

And, well, many have speculated that his teammates are also secretly annoyed by that.

The truth, as it always does, lies somewhere in between, the exact latitude based on performance far more than personal preferences. Should Clemens pitch great upon his return, the haughty outrage that has accompanied his high-strung demands and even higher-strung salary will appear even sillier than it does now.

And as long as Schilling can pound the strike zone and rack up quality starts, his teammates, manager and upper management will keep a now-petrified upper lip and tolerate his blog and headline-grabbing comments - like the one he made recently about Barry Bonds.

"He admitted that he used steroids," Schilling said after calling into a morning radio show. "I mean, there's no gray area. He admitted to cheating on his wife, cheating on his taxes, and cheating on the game . . .

"I don't care that he's black, or green, or purple, or yellow, or whatever. It's unfortunate . . . there's good people and bad people. It's unfortunate that it's happening the way it's happening."

Schilling's teammate David Ortiz came out in support of Bonds and offered a no-comment about his pitcher. Curt? He met with Sox manager Terry Francona then offered a mea culpa via 38pitches.com, his blog.

Here's a great idea for a new reality series: Simply assign a cameraman and a microphone to follow Schilling around in his day-to-day doings and undoings.

Catch glimpses of teammates as he passes them in the clubhouse or in the dugout.

Be there as he awakens to call the local radio station with his thoughts of the day.

Watch him as he types out the latest entry to his blog, where he communicates his most unguarded opinions.

See him not only air his dirty laundry, but wash it, too.

Especially those darned, controversial socks of his.

Was that fabric softener he put in there?

Or was it . . . (suspenseful music here)

. . . ketchup?

Call it "Schill."

Love him or concur with Ed Wade's assessment, you have to give our former ace this: He is entertaining as hell. You can have Gene Simmons, Shannon Tweed and their two "Family Jewels." I'll take Schill. You can send Hef and his three Bunnies all over the planet if you want to, plant a camera in Paris Hilton's jail cell, induce painfully selfish behavior from as many spoiled and clueless teens as you can find.

Give me Schill, 24/7. He will win that ratings war.

Hands down, mouth wide open.

But back to Clemens. He threw 71 pitches at the Yankees' spring-training facility in Tampa, Fla., yesterday, a session described by his 23-year-old catcher, James LaSala, as sharp and "nasty."

He proclaimed himself as "right where I need to be," but that is almost as nonsensical as the premise that his clause will be disruptive in a $190 million clubhouse that already includes the Alex Rodriguez-Derek Jeter rift and would endorse signing John Rocker tomorrow if he still could pitch.

This is professional baseball, people, not that high school team you used to play for that just wouldn't allow such a thing. There is a reason pitchers are listed separately from players in the Baseball Encyclopedia. They practice in a different part of the park, take their pregame swings at a different time, and often watch the game from a different place.

"I think it's just an example of how many people have opinions on things," Yankees manager Joe Torre said last week in discussing Clemens' special travel arrangements. "I always find that opinions are dangerous when you do it from afar."

That could be read as a dig at Schilling for the Bonds mess, but Torre is too stuck in his own muck to stick his nose into someone else's. Clemens is expected to make two or three minor league starts, including one in Trenton next week, before joining the Yankees, possibly by late May, then be ready for a Fenway matchup with Boston in the first weekend in June.

Torre hopes he and his staggering team can still see first place by then.

Either way, though, you'll want to log on to 38pitches.com that week. *

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