Items from Schilling company hit RI auction block

Items from Schilling company hit RI auction block

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) The implosion of former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's video game company left the state of Rhode Island with a $100 million mess - and Paul DeBlois with a clock.

With the wave of a yellow bidder's sheet, the tax preparer from Burrillville offered the winning price - $200 - on a company clock during a sell-off Tuesday of what is left of 38 Studios, which was lured to Rhode Island with a massive state loan guarantee.

The oversized piece was one of several at the company's former headquarters counting down, to the second, the anticipated launch of the video game Schilling dreamed would be a hit.

But DeBlois had a different use in mind: ``It's going to mark the end of tax season for me,'' he said.

The auction, put on by court-appointed receiver Richard Land, comes four months after the company's spectacular collapse into bankruptcy. Rhode Island, whose quasi-public Economic Development Corp. approved a $75 million loan guarantee in 2010, is by far 38 Studios' biggest creditor. In total, the state is likely on the hook for some $100 million related to the deal, once interest in factored in.

Hundreds of potential bidders showed up for the auction, which featured everything from high-end computers and graphic animation equipment to model airplanes Schilling is said to have made and kept in his fifth-floor office (empty save for an ergonomic chair, some cherry furniture and an elliptical, which was removed from the sale at the last minute).

There were no immediate estimates on how much the auction of 2,100 lots might raise, but it is not expected to come anywhere close to covering the company's debts.

``They promised me a statue downtown if I raised $75 million,'' auctioneer Sal Corio joked during the bidding.

A smaller auction last week at Big Huge Games, a gaming studio in Maryland bought by 38 Studios in 2009, grossed $180,000, according to Land. 38 Studios' intellectual property will be sold off in a separate auction in a few months.

The company estimated in bankruptcy filings it owes $150.7 million and has assets of $21.7 million.

Schilling - perhaps best known for pitching through an ankle injury that famously bloodied his sock on his team's way to the 2004 World Series - grew his startup quickly and couldn't raise the outside money needed to finish the game. While he has said he himself was part of the reason the company folded, he has accused Gov. Lincoln Chafee of having an agenda that hurt 38 Studios.

Chafee, a critic of the original loan guarantee, has insisted he did everything he could to help the company. The EDC board, which he chairs, is considering possible litigation connected with the deal, and state law enforcement authorities are investigating 38 Studios' finances. A federal investigation did not result in charges.

Bidders crowded the auction room Tuesday after browsing items throughout the building. Some came seeking good deals on computers. One man said he might bid on a refrigerator for his wife.

Some Schilling figurines - straight out of his office, Corio said - went for $175. A giant battle hammer replica from the game ``Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,'' which 38 Studios released earlier this year, sold for $375.

David Morsilli bought the first item: one of several swords used to make sound effects for the video game. The 44-year-old from Providence paid $175 and plans to hang it in his home office, where he's working on a novel. He conceded it was a cool piece of memorabilia but wanted it, he said, as a reminder to ``never get in over your head.''

A few former 38 Studios employees who showed up had an impromptu mini-reunion. Danny Laba of Worcester, Mass., caught Schilling's attention in 2011 by throwing him a baseball with his resume screen-printed on it at the New England Institute of Technology, where Schilling was delivering the commencement address. Laba said Schilling texted him immediately and, within about a month, he was hired as a system tester.

Laba described the company's collapse as ``heart-breaking'' but said he had only good things to say about his former boss.

``He went for a personal dream,'' Laba said. ``Isn't that what everyone wants to do?''

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Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

NBC Sports Washington

Reflections on Rich Tandler and a life well lived

I haven’t felt this way since my father passed last April. I’m not comparing the two, at all, but there were some similarities.

Rich Tandler had life experience. Few people accomplish what he did; total life reinvention. 

Think about that. 

After raising his two successful children and a lifetime in the restaurant business, Tandler created a blog. That blog became big enough to eventually become a full-time job, and over time, put him on television and send him all over the world. 

That’s wild. 

We get so caught up in the “startups” and “disruptors” from Silicon Valley that we missed a true internet success story in Rich Tandler. Our world has become extra cynical. The loudest snark wins, especially on the internet. 

Tandler didn’t trade in those currencies. 

He provided good, quality information. He provided insight and analysis from six decades of obsessing over a football team. 

And fans loved him for it. 

The outpouring from folks that read "Need to Know" or listened to the podcast has been incredible. I’ve been flooded with messages from people, and one overwhelming response is that while they didn’t really know Tandler, they feel like they did.

Well, I was lucky to know him pretty well. And his persona on air was the same way off air. 

Tandler helped me a in a lot of ways. I can be impulsive and have a temper, Tandler would calm me down. Whenever I had something important to say, news to break or a sharp angle of criticism, I would run it by Tandler first. Sometimes, maybe often, I would say too much, and he would reign me in. 

Tandler loved pointing out mistakes. If the universe gave honorary degrees for pointing out minor math errors in salary cap blog posts, Tandler would have a Ph.D. 

He was smart and he was sharp. Good natured but feisty. 

He could dish it out plenty in a media room full of alphas. And he literally dished it out; Tandler controlled all the plastic utensils and paper plates that every media member used at Redskins Park. When we were running low on forks, Tandler would put out some not too subtle calls to action. 

I think for a while he considered the podcast an annoyance, but somewhere along the way, we had a breakthrough. He realized its potential, and everywhere we went, listeners came up and told us how much they enjoyed it. 

That made an impact on RT. And seemingly overnight, he was all in. That’s when things really started to gain steam. Wherever I am in my career, Tandler played a huge role in it. 

But that kind of doesn’t matter now. We will keep the pod going but it will never be the same. Not better, not worse, but way, way different. Same thing with writing and TV. The show will go on, but it won't be the same. It will never be the same. 

In the hours since I learned of Tandler’s passing, I’ve done some reading. I drank a bunch. And I ended up landing on some YouTube videos. 

The one I kept going back to was Jimmy V’s famous ESPY speech. Before he died, Jimmy V implored us all to think, laugh and cry every day, and that would lead to a good, full life. 

If there was ever a dude that laughed, it was Rich Tandler. 

His belly laugh was contagious, and his wit was superior. There were the wacky Tandler’s Got Jokes, and the sly one liners about players, plays and our road antics. 

It wasn’t all laughter either. Tandler was smart as hell, and he was always thinking about new ways to present content for Redskins fans. 

Seriously, our organization employs an army of young and talented digital-first thinkers. And Tandler generated more web traffic than all of them. He constantly tried to figure out why people would read something, or the optimal time for us to drop a new podcast. 

Where I’m an idea guy, Tandler was all execution. I’m a terrible planner and constantly late. Tandler would be on time and busting my chops about our lack of schedule. It’s just how we operated. 

As for crying, Tandler didn't do it much. I did see him tear up from laughing a few times, and once because it was real windy when we were taping a segment and something got in his eye. 

I’m not much of a crier either. I’m glad that Jimmy V was, but it’s just not me. 

Thinking about Tandler though in the last 36 hours, there have been some truly hard moments. He was kind and gracious. A true gentleman. 

He never took personal shots at the team we cover, or their front office. Plenty do. He would certainly say when things were bad, and say it loudly. He was binary in a world full of context. 

He was a good dude. He was my coworker, my partner and my friend. 

And damn if it isn’t getting dusty in here all of a sudden. 

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Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

The Washington Wizards open their regular season on Thursday night against the Miami Heat. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Will Howard play?

Just one week ago, it would have seemed near impossible that Dwight Howard, the Wizards' biggest offseason acquisition, would be ready to play in the season opener, but after three solid days of practice, it can't be ruled out. The Wizards plan to evaluate him throughout the day on Thursday to determine if he can take the court in what would be his first live game action with his new team.

Howard, 32, missed the entire preseason and nearly all of their practices leading up to the opener with a strained piriformis muscle. Though reports have been encouraging from his three practices, he is not yet in game shape. Even if he can play, expect him to be limited. If he can't play, Ian Mahinmi will get the start.

Heat are banged up

Miami is not only coming off a game the night before, as they lost in their season opener to the Orlando Magic, but they are missing some key guys. Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow are out due to injuries.

That will leave Miami perilously thin at the guard and small forward position. That happens to be an area of the roster where the Wizards are especially deep, now with Austin Rivers as the backup shooting guard behind Bradley Beal and with first round pick Troy Brown Jr. behind Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr.

That said, Waiters and Ellington being out means Dwyane Wade may get more run and, as we saw in the preseason, he is still very hard to stop. He is capable of a big night, especially given it's so early in the year and he doesn't yet have the wear-and-tear of a long season.

Can Beal reach the next level?

One of the most important indicators of how much better the Wizards will be this season is the continued improvement of their young players. John Wall, Porter and Oubre are included in that and particularly Oubre, who is entering an important season in the final year of his contract.

But the guy who improved more than anyone last year and has a chance to take another big leap this season is Beal. Now with one All-Star nod under his belt, what does he have for an encore? 

If Beal can get his scoring average up even higher from the 22.6 he put up last season, he could enter the All-NBA conversation. And he now has more help than ever with Rivers behind him. Beal should, in theory, be more fresh each night with Rivers taking away some of his workload. 

The Heat offer a good matchup defensively for Beal with Josh Richardson. He is one of the more underrated players in basketball and is a menace on the perimeter.

"I've been a fan of his since I played him in college at Tennessee," Beal said. "He's always been a pest. He's super athletic, sneaky athletic. And I feel like he developed his shot to where you have to respect it. If you go under [on screens], he's shooting it."