Every so often a sporting performance transcends our collective expectations, and demands to be written about. Such performances embody more than just strength of body. They embody strength of mind and strength of heart. Curt Schilling’s seven-inning, four-hit, one earned run performance Tuesday night was just such a performance.
On a bleeding ankle, with three sutures holding a dislocated tendon in place, Schilling shut down a Yankee offense that had scored 19 runs only three days ago.
And he did it with the pressure of Boston’s season being on the line, with the pressure of being a self-labeled Yankee killer who lives for nights like these, with the pressure of history looking over his shoulder; and with the knowledge that the same ankle had cost the Red Sox Game 1.
And it doesn’t matter whether or not the Red Sox win Game 7. The fact they are even playing a Game 7 is enough.
This columnist must admit that he thought Schilling wouldn’t last more than four innings. After all it seemed like Schilling was done for the series after Game 1. To go from not playing at all to pitching one of the most clutch games in baseball history isn’t something that happens everyday, or to anyone.
Such performances are the ones for which athletes really earn their keep. When they look past their own frailties, pushing them aside to will themselves to greater heights. When they give scant thought to injury and pain, in the quest for one more chance at immortality.
Schilling did all that. He pushed aside the pain in his ankle, he pushed aside the thought of future injury, and simply concentrated on what he does best.
And what he does best is win big games under pressure, as he proved so emphatically on a cold, wet, and windy New York night.