Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Thank You Curt

Curt Schilling pitched 7 innings last night with a tendon being held taut by sutures. Doctors used stitches to bunch the skin around his ankle and hold it in place. He won Game 6, giving up one run, beating one of the best offensive teams in baseball. With blood leaking its way through his sock.

That is remarkable. It was one of the greatest athletic feats I have seen in my life, and there is no way to overstate the majesty of it. People are writing articles and calling him brave, but it's not enough. He deserves a building. Curt, you can have my apartment. Thank you, truly, for what you've done. Sorry about the bathroom.

Now, on to the game the Curt made: Game Seven. If you can point to one thing that has swung this series, it's the power of averages. In games 1-3, the 2, 3 and 4 hitters for New York (Arod, Sheffield, and Matsui) hit an unbelievable .510 (24/47). Their OPS in those games was in the neighborhood of 1.800. They are good players, but that's unworldly. God couldn't hit like that. The bad news was that those stats put the Yankees up 3-0, but the good news is sooner or later, math has its day. As posters have pointed out, given enough at bats, hitters will eventually perform in the playoffs as they do in the regular season. Players are who they are, if allowed enough time. So for ARod, Matsui, and Sheff to present a more accurate statistical picture of their true ability, they would have to balance out their unbelievable numbers with some pretty stinky ones -- and they have. In the last three contests, those players are hitting a robust .146 (6/41), with 9 strikeouts. Yes, they're being approached differently (a lot less strikes), and of course Boston pitching is simply performing better, but a lot of this is good old regressing to the mean. And for Boston it's coming at the perfect time. If it continues tonight, the Red Sox will win.

Otherwise, tonight is impossible to analyze, mostly because Torre refuses to announce his pitcher. Vazquez, Brown, El Duque, and Loaiza are all on the table, with KB running in front -- but they're all dubious. Francona has given the nod to DLowe, on all of two days rest, but it will be all hands on deck for both clubs. Wakefield, Arroyo, and Mendoza could go long, while a rested Leskanic, Timlin, and Embree will be the heavy hitters short. Foulke may or may not be available, but I would imagine he's got an out or two left in the arm. The real wild cards here are Pedro and Schill. Martinez is pitching in this game, I guarantee it. The question is when, how much can he do, and how will he react? The emotional boost of Cleveland '99 memories can not be ignored, as it will be quite a sight when those bullpen doors swing open. And how about Curt? Could he come in to get Sheffield with the bases loaded? Throw eight pitches and sit right down? I wouldn't be shocked.

You sort of feel like, deep down, however, this is Tim Wakefield's game. He's kept this team alive in so many ways for so many years, and what is tonight's contest about other than staying alive? He was on the mound when the last Game 7 was decided, and I have the feeling he's gonna be around when this one is. Tonight is going to be won by somebody's middle relief. Both starters will be mediocre and last only a few, the winner will be whomever pick up the pieces best. The way Timmy's ball was dancing on Monday night, I'll take my chances. Do it one more time Wake.

We tied it up and made it count. Now let's beat these fuckers.