Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SMALLS TALK: Schilling's Bloody Sock

Say what you want about Curt Schilling. Outspoken. Fat. Aggressive republican. He's not the most popular public figure in sports, but he did have one hell of a career: one that will be remembered for- and arguably epitomized by- one moment: the Bloody Sock.

2004 ALCS, Game 6. Facing their hated rivals en route to the biggest comeback in sports history. A key part of bringing a city its first World Series title in 86 years. All storybook stuff, but in my opinion, the best part about the entire bloody sock moment is that nobody else could have had it. Not Pedro, not Derek Lowe, not Manny, nobody.  And it's not because they're not tough or because they wouldn't have played- it's because they don't have the same style.

Schilling was a part of the 5% (if that) of Big Leaguers who wear stirrups as opposed to colored socks. What's even more rare is that Schilling is one of maybe two guys this century to sport elastic-bottomed 'tweeners, pants that hang out just above the ankle. The majority of MLB players wear their pant bottoms low enough to cover the tops of their cleats, but not Schilling. He has just enough white showing for the whole world to see his stitches had busted open, he was bleeding, he was in pain, and yep, he was still gonna pitch. The Bloody Sock is an image that has come to embody toughness and perseverance, and if Curt Schilling wore his pants and socks like everybody else in the league, the world would never know this legacy.

Sure, Curt would have ranted and raved in the press conference about how much he was hurting, but would we have believed him? Curt's a blow-hard, and him detailing what went on under his pant legs or explaining how he was bleeding but the blood blended in with his red socks doesn't have the same effect as "Holy shit, is that blood on his sock? That's badass."

Which brings me to my final point: Curt Schilling has been preparing for that moment, his career-defining image, ever since Rookie Ball when the clubbie asked him "socks or stirrups?" Just like Squints, Curt had been planning this for years. He knew what he was doing, and his rare choice to go stirrups with tweeners doesn't go overlooked by this blogger.

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