Thank God Curt Schilling isn't walking out of Fenway with an ALCS Game 6 loss to counterbalance his 2004 heroics. You know that if he'd failed, the two games would've been proudly displayed as bookends within any and all media coverage on him for the rest of his career. If the Sox had lost that game yesterday, that would have been among the tougher things to take.
It's not just that I've been a Curt Schilling apologist almost since the moment he set foot in Boston; it's not even necessarily for his sake that I was rooting for his legacy to remain intact. It was his legend and what it means to Boston that I was rooting for. It was the unbroken storyline.
If anybody is paying attention to the "Currently Reading" feed over on the sidebar, they might be forgiven for mistaking it for a feed of Surviving Grady posts. I only realized fairly recently that I was bookmarking practically all of their posts over there over the last few weeks. But hey. That pretty much sums up how good they are.
So, to find the first words to describe Schilling's performance, it is to another SG post I point today, the goose-bump inducing treatise by Red previewing Curt's game:
Who's gonna let the 2007 season end on a Saturday night, when the Lord's day is just a couple hours away?
Who's gonna rest on his laurels and bloody sock and allow what could be his final appearance in a Red Sox uniform to be remembered as the game that saw our ALCS dream crash and burn?
Who's not gonna leave every ounce of blood, sweat and Miller Genuine Draft on that mound so that we can live to die another day?
F@#k that noise.
Red was confident before the game, but I wasn't, not quite so much. It's like I was telling people all week--I believe 110% in Curt's heart. Or, as my mother put it, "if there's a way for him to do it through sheer determination, it will happen."
But that was a very big 'if.' All the spirit and discipline in the world doesn't turn back time.
So to see him live up to those defiant predictions quoted above? To see him come up nails just one more time, walk off the field being able to honestly say he has never let us down, not when it truly mattered? That means the world to me, to say nothing of what it must obviously mean to him.
If you think about it, there are precious few Red Sox players, current or former, who have carried that kind of meaning. Regardless of whether or not he returns to Boston, Curt Schilling will always have my utmost respect and gratitude.
Speaking of all-time Red Sox, I came to a sudden realization last night that I can't believe I didn't have before. Anybody remember who the closer was supposed to be for the Cleveland Indians this year? That would be one Mr. Keith Foulke. Just trying to imagine what that would have been like for me, if it had happened...I honestly don't know if I would have made it through that alive.
Last night, though, all of the horrifying what-ifs were avoided, and the game made an enjoyable backdrop to the Halloween party I was at. Well, mostly. Early on when it was scoreless and tense, and all those what-ifs were hanging in the air, it was less than happy. I have forgotten how much the postseason can hurt at times, how maddeningly ominous Joe Buck can sound as he confirms the bad news your eyes are already telling you, or takes delight in rehashing some previous night's downer moments.
But like any good party, what was slow at first got on a roll as time went on, until one epic, classic event sealed the night for posterity. This time around, that event was--do not attempt to refresh the page--JD Drew hitting a grand slam off Fausto Carmona in the bottom of the first.
It was another one of those box-of-chocolates baseball moments as Drew rounded the bases: in the living room of an apartment somewhere deep in the hoary wilds of central Massachusetts, jumping around and high-fiving the Grim Reaper, an airline pilot, a court jester, a Ghostbuster, and an old-school Celtics and 76ers player, respectively.
Even better was the look on Papi's face as he turned to greet JD at the plate, and gave him an awestruck, elated double-five up high. It should be noted that especially in comparison to some of his teammates, Drew seemed to register only very modest changes of expression. For me, it was Papi, once again, who acted as the iconic face of the moment, his reflected pride and vindication telling me all there was to know.
* Title right from The Horse's mouth.