Does red sock on Schilling's foot pass the blood test?

World Series

St. Louis Cardinals vs.Boston Red Sox

GAME 3: Tomorrow, 8:30 P.M., Chs. 45,5

October 25, 2004|By Laura Vecsey

BOSTON - Will he pitch again this October?

"I can't think about that right now, not after the day I've had," Curt Schilling said last night.

Then again, he can afford to be coy. The Red Sox are up 2-0 on the Cardinals in this Curt Schilling World Series, so why bother worrying about it, even if the doctor said he couldn't be sure Schilling's ankle tendon could be stitched in place a third time.

Out in the right-field seats last night in damp, happy Fenway, savvy members of Red Sox Nation knew the real score.

FOR THE RECORD - A sports column by Laura Vecsey on Monday incorrectly identified a Boston Red Sox fan who was quoted as Dave Micilli. His name is Dave Cirilli.
The Sun regrets the error.

Not the score of Game 2 of this World Series, which was all in favor of the home team.

We're talking about the score on Curt Schilling, who took the mound last night and again defied his bad ankle, defied the odds, defied the doctors who had never heard of the kind of surgical procedure that secured said tendon, and, perhaps, defied our wild and gullible imaginations.

See, Schilling is the pitcher who cried wolf once already this October. His ankle tendon sheath torn, there was a time after Game 1 of the American League Championship Series that Schilling appeared to be finished, kaput, done.

There seemed no way he could get back out to the mound, let alone be as dominant as he was in the ALCS Game 6 win.

Then there was last night, when Schilling was apparently so used to being held together with nylon thread, he completely dominated the game. The Cardinals managed four hits, but only one unearned run in Schilling's six innings.

But the question remains: Was it blood on his sock?

Or was it something else that looks like blood?

Not that Schilling would ever dispute the description of the blotchy red area on his white sanitary sock as definitely being 100 percent blood.

"Curt Schilling is a smart guy. He knows what it takes to earn his place in this town," said Dave Micilli, a North Boston dweller.

"It's all about Larry Bird and Bobby Orr in Boston. If you want a statue of you in Faneuil Hall, you've got to get blood on your sock," Micilli said.

And Micilli shrugged his shoulders, along with his group of Red Sox-rooting buddies who were also amused but skeptical about what it was exactly that was on Schilling's sock.

In their minds, the possibility that this whole thing was exaggerated, even a little, doesn't diminish the image of Schilling as the Curse Killer; the hired gun with a World Series ring and MVP trophy from Arizona who came east to do exactly what he said he'd do.

If Schilling is reveling in his Roy Hobbs impersonation, so what?

No one disputes that something's seriously wrong with the ankle. The medical experts who treat him agree he needs surgery, then three months of rehabilitation.

But there's a contingent of baseball watchers, including Red Sox Nation faithful, who wouldn't put it past Schilling to embellish the theatrics surrounding the management of this ankle problem.

"It could have a little blood mixed in there, but we'll have to check it out with the trainer," Red Sox director of public information Glenn Geffner said.

On that score, we give you the New York Yankees - not that they're a totally credible source, considering their postseason misery at the hands of Schilling and the Red Sox.

Manager Joe Torre did posit the idea that the Yankees didn't bunt more on Schilling in that fateful Game 6 of the American League Championship Series because they weren't really sure how hurt he was.

Even factoring in the sour grapes, word out of New York is that some Yankees players wouldn't put it past Schilling to dab his sock with red magic marker, or apply generous amounts of Mercurochrome - anything to amplify the Red Sox's amazing postseason run and, of course, to hoist his stature.

We've seen this kind of gloriously entertaining act before: Hall of Fame athletes doing whatever it takes to guarantee not only victory, but also the long and glorious shelf life of their legend.

We give you Joe Namath and the January 1969 Super Bowl.

At the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, after the Canadian Olympic hockey team won the gold medal, there was Wayne Gretzky, impish grin unleashed, digging at the rink ice.

From beneath the surface, the Great One chipped out a Canadian coin. It was a looney, which Gretzky said he had buried there to ensure good luck for the Canadians.

We all believed it. But what if Gretzky had made it up?

There's a little bit of Hollywood, a lot of Madison Avenue in these big-time sports stars. Schilling included. It sure seems Schilling is starring in this role as baseball savior during this postseason.

Schilling is absolutely eating up these moments on the world's biggest sporting stage.

Call it embellishment. Call it poetic license. Call it a great sportsman amplifying his own legend. Why not?

And by the way, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein last night said Schilling is the starter for Game 6.

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