!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Reports from the Nation: Blinded by Optimism?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Blinded by Optimism?

I want Curt Schilling to be ready. I want it so badly, I have a hard time telling whether its true or not. Some nights lately, he jogs out to the mound and throws a pitch that seems familiar in all the right ways. It's like every muscle in his body slides into alignment, his arm becomes the illustration of the lever in the "Simple Machines" chapter of my third grade science book, and when the ball leaves his fingers it looks as though it it's filled with life and purpose. The batter swings and shakes his head a little. Even he knew, you can't hit a pitch like that.

Then, three pitches later, that same ball floats smack over the middle of the plate for a home run, and I wonder if I imagined the whole thing.

Is he still in pain, or is he just still in the midst of a greatly delayed spring training, working out the kinks? Or, worst case scenerio, is this the injury that, years from now, we look back and say "He was just never the same after that?" So many players have that magic "it" one season, then next year it's gone. Sometimes an injury does it, sometimes it's the cumulative effect of getting older, slowing down, and the magic simply disappearing (I can't help but think about Bernie Williams here).

Right now I'm avoiding that train of thought. It's looking very likely that the Sox are going to the playoffs, a thing I admit to doubting back when this season was young. But if that's the case, even my desperate hopefulness doubts that we'll make it very far without a shot to the pitching arm, so to speak. We keep pulling off wins, but we do it while allowing the other team to score seven or eight runs. You can squeak by like that during the regular season, but the playoffs (and particularly the White Sox and Cardinals) are looming and I just don't think that's going to cut it. It may be a cliche, but good pitching does tend to beat good hitting. We didn't shut down the Redbirds last year by the force of our quirky personalities.

It would be naive to pin my hopes on Foulke at this point, Chad Bradford's no miracle, Clement and Arroyo (as much as I adore them) have ERAs that make me nervous. Come on Schill, please be better. Once again, we need you.

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