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38 Studios And Schilling’s Hypocrisy

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, center, is followed by members of the media as he departs the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation headquarters in Providence, R.I., Monday, May 21. (AP)

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, center, is followed by members of the media as he departs the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation headquarters in Providence, R.I., Monday, May 21. (AP)

Who can fault Curt Schilling for wanting to build a post-baseball career on another of his passions?

Nobody, I think. He was confident that he could gather people who’d build some cool video games. He wasn’t going to be one of those aging ballplayers who sits around re-living his glory days, though certainly he had his share of them, having won championships with both the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox. Instead he was going to break new ground as an entrepreneur.

But that’s not to say Schilling can’t be faulted for his business plan, or for the way he’s handled the apparent collapse of 38 Studios.

Analysis after the fact is easy and cheap, and if the one game actually marketed by Schilling’s company had sold a couple million more units than it did, maybe people would be referring to him as the Cy Young of video game development.

Lots of people don’t like loudmouths, especially after they stop winning ballgames and start blaming their benefactors for not giving them even more.

But it didn’t. Despite an infusion of money from the state of Rhode Island large enough to provoke the relocation of his company from Massachusetts, Schilling found himself in need of help from a governor unwilling to toss good money after the largess extended by his predecessor.

Despite assurances to his employees that 38 Studios would rise again, it didn’t.

That news would be worse if competing companies hadn’t set up job fairs to recruit the people previously employed by 38 Studios, even before the company tanked. Apparently that’s the way it works in the world of video game development. The news would have saddened more people if so many of them hadn’t been put off by what they saw as Schilling’s hypocrisy: he railed loudly against so-called “big government,” then built his company on an enormous government subsidy after he’d accepted $8 million for a baseball season during which he may have known he would not pitch. Lots of people don’t like loudmouths, especially after they stop winning ballgames and start blaming their benefactors for not giving them even more.

Probably none of what Schilling did is immoral, let alone illegal. He merely took what two large organizations, the Boston Red Sox and the state of Rhode Island, were willing to hand him. That he didn’t deliver the goods he’d promised cannot have surprised anyone familiar with baseball or businesses, and if there is a cautionary tale buried anywhere in the rubble of 38 Studios, it’s perhaps that those entrusted with the public’s money ought to beware of entrepreneurs whose autographs their grandchildren covet.

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  • Cgolding1

    Bravo, Bill! Exactly what I hoped someone would say. 

  • Brdkrt55

    This goes with what I have seen all over the country. Here in Illinois, the state of Mississippi bought a local company of high paying jobs with 28 million. The war between the staes is still being fought, with dollars instead of bullets. The taxpayer and the guy without a job suffer the most. There should be a constitutional amendment preventing any government entity from spending tax money on business.

    • TZO

       I agree totally with you’re saying, unfortunately, if/when Romney gets elected, you’ll see much more of that happening. (Along with a full-blown Plutocracy) And even though I really don’t care for Obama, I certainly don’t give a siht about Romney and will vote for the neighbor’s dog so as to not get that guy elected into office!

  • Am

    You forgot the part where Mr. Schilling spent 40million of his own money on the game.
    Not to mention, Reckoning was not created by 38studios. It was created by Big Huge Games and the game outperformed EA’s projections by a landslide.

    • J__o__h__n

      No one is complaining about how he spent his own money.  This Republican loudmouth shouldn’t have taken government money and then whined when they didn’t give him a bailout. 

    • GUEST

      But if it indeed outperformed all projections, then why couldn’t 38 Studios make payroll??  Clearly the business plan is at fault…and who is responsible for the business plan?  Hmmmm…

    • Dorand

      It made more than projected and they still didn’t have enough $? What were they going to do if it only sold as projected or less? And should we really be giving people credit for spending their own money on their own venture so they can make a profit for themselves? I thought that was just how it worked.

  • Bbibbo

    The Big Schill had a game plan not a business plan. If he had a business plan, one meeting muster with credible venture capitalists, he would have known and acted weeks ago. As for the EDC, if they were in fact getting monthly financial reports as suggested, they apparently either did understand the cascading impact of negative cash flow or they were negligent. Had EDC caught this week ago, as they should have, perhaps a remedy could have been quietly implemented. Incompetence or negligence!

  • Dorand

    Bill I agree with you. However I think the hypocrite label does apply to schilling, not just because he took government money but because after taking the government money he frequently speaks against he complained when the conpany failed that the government should have given him more. He takes 0% of the blame and says it was all the states fault for not giving him enough.

    • kevins198

      Considering that he is always ridiculing people for taking government money why on earth is he taking government money. Not to mention I thought he was all for small government. Hypocrite.  

    • Roy Mac

      Schilling’s idea of smaller government is Rhode Island; he never said he was against bailouts or handouts, just big government.

  • sweetpeppah

    Nice turtleneck ya douche.

  • RUoutofyourVulcanMind

    Clearly the $75MM that RI promised was a rescue when made. They didn’t do their homework. Schilling made a mistake thinking that he could run a profitable gaming company.

    Seems like an interesting game, but it will probably never see the light of day. Unless they can find someone else with too much money.

  • HahvahdYahdPahkin

    No doubt about the hypocrisy from Schilling regarding Big Government but this article seems to be more about generating readers based on the fact that everyone loves to hate a loudmouth. If you want to talk about hypocrisy there’s no shortage from Governor Chafee either. Despite repeated claims that he was “doing everything he can to ensure the success of 38 Studios” the Governor held multiple press conferences and took to the public airwaves using words that would cause any investor on the verge of putting money into 38 to run for the hills. He then went on to respond to Schilling’s comments by stating that no professional investor would be concerned with what a public official says. This left me with the following question: Is Governor Chafee just ignorant or dumb?

    • Info

      There’s a strong belief in “job creation” by using taxpayer money to lure companies, which isn’t always backed up by reality. I wonder if there has been a systematic study of this practice which might help determine whether or not and how often it proves successful. Can an up-front public “investment” pay off for everyone, or does it end up being another way for the public to take on the risks of private business?

      The conflicts with the governor may serve as a warning to companies considering such deals, as well.  Political entanglements can end up damaging their ability to maintain their business.

  • Zelda43

    What a bunch of phony baloney.  He basically ripped lots of  folks off .  It happens when
    your too full of yourself and don’t belong in business anyway.  Just another fool.

    • Guest

      Zelda43, I would love to live in world where things are that simple.

  • Slippy0547

    This is poor journalism do a little research first.

    “He merely took what two large organizations, the Boston Red Sox and the state of Rhode Island, were willing to hand him.”

    The Red Sox paid him and had nothing to do with 38 studios, he invested his money.

    • Anonymous

      No one’s claiming the Red Sox invested any money in 38 Studios…the paragraph above that quote makes the point that he essentially took $8 mill from the Sox for a season in which he possibly knew he wouldn’t pitch.  One really has nothing to do with the other, unless you take the view that, in both cases, Schilling failed to ‘deliver the goods’ after being given substantial amounts of $$.

      • Anonymous 2:Son of Anonymous

         I have to point out that another way of saying “he essentially took $8 mill from the Sox for a season in which he possibly knew he wouldn’t pitch” is “sports fans give enough of their money to the sports organizations they associate with that professional athletes can be offered very large sums of money for doing next to nothing”. Let’s say that you are in a situation where someone says to you, “Would you be okay with us paying you an extravagant amount of money just to stay with us in case we might need you?” What would you say? Now with Rhode Island, as far as I understand it, the deal was, “We can guarantee you $75 mill for developing your game. Is that okay with you?” What ended up causing the current state of affairs after 38 went through almost $50 mill of that is a story that’s still unfolding.

        • Anonymous

          Not going to turn this into a debate on the economics of professional athletics.  Look, would I take $8 mill in that situation?  Hell yes!  Would that be ethical?  Well…no.  I don’t think so.  And the RI deal was not quite a cut-and-dried as “Hey, we wanna give you $75 mill.  Cool?”  As I understand it, part of the deal was a promise on 38 Studios part to bring at least 450 jobs to RI.  The bottom line is, I don’t think anyone involved is blameless – not Schilling, not the RI government, nobody.

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