If Curt Schilling was still playing, he'd be pitching on three days rest tonight. Why? Because that was the man Curt Schilling was:
From a starting pitcher’s standpoint, three days’ rest in October was never an issue, because from the time you’re 5 years old, doing that "World Series" replay in your back yard, it’s the game, the innings, the at-bats you’ve always dreamed about having the ball in your hand for.
I’ve always appreciated the respect pitching on three days’ rest in October got you, but go back to 2001, go to 2004 and beyond, and when you look at anyone pitching on three days’ rest you realize there were far bigger goings-on.
I always felt the other teams thought that they were going to be getting a "lesser version" of me on three days’ rest. The Yankees said as much after the 2001 World Series. I thought that gave me a huge advantage. Before they could figure out I wasn’t "less," and didn’t have diminished stuff, we’d be in the third or fourth inning.
I guess for me it comes back to the player. I always felt the need to make sure the manager KNEW I wanted to do it, and ya, I’d put up a fight to get the shot to be able to do it. If as a player you don’t assert this, you leave the manager sitting there in a no-win, really. If he does it, and you don’t do well, it’s his fault for pushing you. If he doesn’t do it, and you lose, it’s not your fault because he didn’t ask. That’s the easy way, I think, and I’ve watched guys take it more than once. Being the "quiet type," I never could. You may never be there again, and the belief that in October I could not be outpitched, regardless of whether it was true or not, made me push to get the ball in my hands if at all possible.
Some gems from Mr. Schilling in his post. It's nice to get an inside look at a Hall of Fame pitcher (yes, he is. Should we have that conversation, too?) when it comes to the postseason. I'd like to see Schilling on these damn Fox pregame shows. Now that would be fun to watch.
Here's my favorite part of the story, though, which gave me goosebumps:
Sitting on the bench before heading to the bullpen to start warming up for Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, I was sitting next to Brian Matuzas, our bullpen catcher and a good friend. In my head I’d just had a conversation with my Dad, who passed away suddenly when I was 21. I was nervous, scared as hell, really, and I can remember his voice popping into my head.
"What the hell are you afraid of? You’ve worked your ass off, you’re going to go down, get loose, and then you’re going to take the mound in front of billions of people for Game 7 of the World Series against Clemens and the Yankees. All that fluff aside, after the first pitch you are doing what you’ve loved, what you’ve done your whole life. You’ll bust your ass, give it everything you have, and hopefully you win, but at the end of this night you’ll have nothing left to give."
When I finished the thought I was smiling, sort of laughing at how casual he was about what many consider high-stress situations.
Tooz’ looks at me, he’s literally sweating, "Dude, what the hell! How can you be smiling right now?"
"What? What’s not to smile about, man? I am starting Game 7 of the fricking World Series against Roger Clemens and the New York Yankees? How cool is that?"
He replies, "Schill, I’m the f-ing bullpen catcher and I can’t breathe."