The Greatest Postseason Pitcher in Baseball History
If this were a civil litigation, the previous slide, by a “preponderance of the evidence,” would have demonstrated Curt Schilling’s fittingness for inclusion into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
In fact, were Schilling the author of merely an average and nondescript postseason record, his regular season numbers would still justify his enshrinement; however, sadly, for many members of the voting electorate, Schilling’s numbers are of secondary importance and consideration.
However, to quote that irritating announcer on a 3 am infomercial, “But wait, there’s more”!
Schilling is the greatest postseason pitcher in baseball history. If his repeated, consistent, and dominant performances on baseball’s brightest stage are not strongly considered, then one must think very little of those insignificant things that are referred to as “winning,” and “championships.” After all, nothing is more coveted in team sports than a championship. Similarly, if one agrees with the previous statement, then a significant component of a player’s worth is his capabilities to perform well enough in the postseason to assist his team in acquiring said championship.
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The pressure of the October spotlight has rendered many of the greatest regular season pitchers very average. In fact, just as all fans know the names of the prodigious regular season pitchers who seem incapable of translating their success to the postseason, the names of the “money” pitchers, those who seem to perform best when the lights are brightest, are equally recognized.
Schilling is a three-time champion with a sparkling 11-2 postseason record, accompanied by an ERA of 2.23. He can lay claim to the 1993 NLCS MVP, acquired as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, and his 2001 World Series MVP, acquired as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, capped one of the single-greatest postseason pitching exhibitions in baseball history.
During the 2001 postseason, in 48.1 IP, Schilling was 4-0 with an ERA of 1.12. He allowed just 25 hits, while striking out 56 batters and issuing a mere six bases on balls.
Despite his unmitigated brilliance exhibited during the 2001 postseason, Schilling will forever be remembered for his starring role in the iconic “Bloody Sock Game,” Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS against the rival New York Yankees. In what may have been the grittiest, gutsiest performance by an athlete in professional sports history, October 19, 2004 is a day that will live forever in the annals of Red Sox folklore.
Schilling took the mound to face the Yankees as the Red Sox were facing their third consecutive elimination game. In a procedure described as “barbaric” by then-teammate Bronson Arroyo, Schilling had his ankle tendon literally stapled back in place, enabling him to face one of baseball’s most dangerous lineups.
Schilling went out to the mound with, by his own admission on ESPN’s 30-for-30 special, “Four Nights in October,” “nothing.” In the baseball equivalent of “Willis Reed,” Schilling tossed seven innings of one-run ball, allowing just four hits and striking out four, despite rarely touching 90 mph. That same fierce warrior-esque competitiveness that drove Schilling to demand the ball in an elimination game, despite pitching on just one leg, is the same intensity with which he carries out his everyday activities. Unfortunately, it is his relentless passion that sometimes rubs people the wrong way and occasionally places him in trouble.
It is often said that one’s greatest strength is also one’s greatest weakness; there is no truer example of this than Curt Schilling.