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This is the archive for April 2007

The sock smelled 'round the world.

Very few people talk about the way the Yankees collapsed in the 2004 ALCS. Almost no one mentions the fact that Boston destroyed St. Louis in the World Series. That’s an afterthought, like the Super Bowl after a couple of thrilling conference championship games. What people talk about, more than Manny or Papi or anything else, is the bloody sock of Curt Schilling.

That bloody sock is the Zapruder film of the Baseball Hall Of Fame.

Red Sox die-hards say it’s really blood and that everyone who says otherwise is a Yankees fan or an idiot, which ignores the fact that there was no obvious progress of blood from a point of origin outward into the material of the sock, the blood did not change colors during the game, and the blood didn’t seem to seep into Schilling’s stirrups. The blood appeared, in that spot and in that shape, without actually growing or changing throughout the game, despite the fact that continued movement would continually reopen whatever wound caused the initial blood. I’m aware that blood dries and wounds scab, but if he really did open a suture, the wound would have bled a whole lot more and every time he moved or disturbed the thin layer of crust connecting the wound to the sock, it’d bleed a little more.

Was Curt really injured? Of course he was. I’ve seen the scar on his ankle. Hell, he lost the 2005 season because he pitched two games on a bad wheel and didn’t have time to heal properly. He’s even put up a $1 million charitable donation on the line for anyone who can prove he faked the bloody sock, so he must be fairly confident I won’t break into Cooperstown and sneak off with the sock for DNA testing. Also, I don’t have a spare million bucks to donate to ALS research (though if I did, I would).

Curt Schilling probably didn’t fake the bloody sock, but I guarantee you he knew the whole time it had a little blood on it and he left it on so people would notice it and comment on it. The same thing happening twice is pretty suspicious, at least to me, but maybe he wore the same sock twice. The one thing I do know is he pitched in a hell of a lot of pain, and that SHOULD be all that matters. But it’s not, because Curt loves attention.

One quick test would end the controversy, and that’s why this will never happen. Curt’s pitching performance will be enough to keep him a memorable figure, but the bloody sock is something Boston fans will tell their pasty, whiny children about. It’s the stuff of legend, the blood sacrifice that reversed the curse of the Bambino. I guarantee you a guy like Curt loves that thought; he’s a student of baseball history and this bloody sock makes him a part of baseball history.

I think Schilling has too much respect for the game to blatantly fake the bloody sock, but too much of a desire to be talked about to put the rumors completely to bed. So long as he’s being talked about, and people are talking to him, this will never completely go away. Curt won’t let it go away, either.

All I know is, when I stepped off the mound my sock didn't look like no goddamn maxi-pad.

Panic! In the Bronx

The Yankees, no doubt in a panic after losing to the Devil Rays 6-4 last night, have finally pulled the trigger on a move everyone knew was coming. Twenty-year-old pitching phenomenon Philip Hughes (long the only untouchable Yankee minor league prospect) is being called to the majors to fill in the holes in the rotation until Mike Mussina is able to come back. As MSNBC ominously noted, Hughes is the youngest pitcher to start for the Yankees since Jose Rijo in 1984.

As a Reds fan, I remember Jose Rijo quite well. He was the ace of our 1990 World Series championship team that murdered the Bash Brothers Oakland Athletics (he was also MVP of the series). Immensely talented (and an All Star in 1994), Rijo spent his entire career troubled by arm problems, especially in his elbow. By 1995, Rijo was out of the league (save a brief comeback in 2001 02, in which he played well at age 37 and won the Tony Conigliaro Award for courage).

Pitchers seem to be a mixed bag. Some more knowledgeable in baseball than myself feel the way to develop a pitcher is to move him up, slowly, through the minor leagues. Some folks feel that there’s only a certain level you can get a guy to in the minors before you have to bring him into the majors, because, to steal a phrase, there are only so many bullets in the gun, and that every pitch thrown in the minors is a pitch that could’ve been used in the majors. I fall somewhere in the middle; pitchers do have a limited lifespan but the easiest way to kill a youngster’s arm is to rush him into the major leagues (Rijo, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, possibly Francisco Liriano).

I’m not going so far as to say this is a mistake by Brian Cashman and the rest of the Yankees higher-ups, but they are panicking. That’s obvious. I mean, this guy is a first round draft pick, and he’s playing incredibly well in Scranton. So far the only thing he’s got in common with Jose Rijo is potential and right handedness, but if they don’t watch this guy carefully, limit his pitch count, and stick to a schedule with him, they’re going to break him down.

The last thing the Yankees need is another young, injury-prone pitcher to go with their old injury-prone pitchers, and hurlers these days seem to be a lot more fragile than they were only 10 years ago.

The secret to our success

Up is down, black is white, and old is the new young. How else could you possibly explain the burgeoning gray-pride parade that is Major League Baseball this season?

In the first week, Barry Bonds hit a home run. That's expected. What no one expected was that same Barry Lamar Bonds stealing a base! At 42, no less! In two games, Bonds racked up a homer and a stolen base, and on the third day, he smacked a double. (Two more steals, and he ties last year's three steal total! Shoot for four, old man!)

Since Barry has never even seen performance enhancing drugs like HGH, designer steroids, or bear urine, what explains his magical run of base-stealing prowess? Simple. He's stealing a tip from Keith Richards and snorting the ground up cremains of deceased NFL players.

Poor Darryl Stingley didn't die of pneumonia, he died to sate Barry Bonds' lust for Hank Aaron's home run record.