While New England digs out of a mid-winter blizzard to prepare for the AFC Championship games, the Hot Stove couldn’t be hotter. Delgado and Ordonez haven’t signed yet, but Schilling and A-Rod continue to exchange barbs via the media.

A-Rod, from the New York Post:

“It’s just something that we as players have become accustomed to, but it’s something that I’m not worried about. I just hope he continues to talk about me and my teammates.

“It’s gonna give us great motivation to beat him up in the future.”

“There’s a much greater responsibility that comes along with being who I am,” he said. “I thought the criticism was well taken, and I’m going to use that as great motivation to win a world championship and be the best that I can be.”

And Schilling, from the same article;

Schilling told ESPN’s Dan Patrick, “That was freakin’ junior high baseball at its best. . . . He could have easily broken [Arroyo’s] arm. Come on, that was tired.

“Let me ask you something: Does Jeter do that? You know for a fact he doesn’t because Derek Jeter is a class act and a professional, that’s why.”

Schilling later said Boston wouldn’t have reached the World Series with A-Rod.

“He’s a Hall of Famer, sure,” he said. “But after getting to know people who, A) play with him; and B) have played with him, I don’t think it would’ve worked here.”

So, we had Pedro-Zim in 2003 and of course the Arroyo-Varitek-Rodriguez incidents last year. In 2005, we have Schilling and A-Rod to watch. It can only go down one way. Schill pitches inside, maybe hits A-Rod. A-Rod charges the mound, only to be put in a headlock by Schill and issued the Nolan Ryan to Robin Ventura “noogie treatment”.

Another feather in the A-Rod cap of futility. Great player? Yes. Great teammate? Not so sure. Great leader? I think not. The simple fact is that each team A-Rod departs seems to get better with his absence. He will continue to make unspendable amounts of money and post great individual statistics, but will he ever get a Ring?