Now that Curt Schilling's postseason apparently is over after last night's start, maybe we can reflect on what is certain to become a legendary October performance.
But some of us have been fixated on one distinct possibility: What if it wasn't blood on his sock during his Game 6 performance in the American League Championship Series? Does that diminish the image of Schilling as Curse Killer, as the hired gun with a World Series ring and Most Valuable Player trophy from Arizona who came east to do exactly what he said he'd do: beat the Yankees, which Red Sox Nation insists is the same thing as killing the curse?
Maybe it wasn't blood. Maybe it was antiseptic or a few errant drops of anesthetic we saw. Does blood stay bright red through seven innings, exposed to air?
Does blood come out of an area that, from distant observation of Schilling's naked foot, doesn't seem to be irritated to that degree, despite the sutures holding the tendon in place?
"It could have a little blood mixed in there, but we'll have to check it out with the trainer," Red Sox director of public information Glenn Geffner said, willing to entertain the possibility that blood wasn't the only substance that could have turned up a splotch on Schilling's sock.
Maybe Schilling was willing to let it be interpreted as such, because what's better than a great moment amplified to the maximum level of instant legend?
We've seen these kinds of things before on exactly this kind of stage.
Hall of Famers and great competitors doing whatever it takes to not only guarantee victory, but also push the moment toward immortality.
We give you Joe Namath and Super Bowl III.
We give you Michael Jordan, playing through a flu, his father's murder, gambling accusations, retirements, comebacks, divorce charges, lawsuits by former girlfriends and still winning NBA championships.
At the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, after the Canadian Olympic hockey team won the gold medal, there was Wayne Gretzky, impish grin unleashed, digging at the rink ice.
From beneath the surface, the Great One chipped out a Canadian coin. It was a looney, which Gretzky said he had buried there to ensure good luck for the Canadians.
We all believed it. But what if Gretzky had made it up?
There's a little bit of Hollywood, a lot of Madison Avenue in these big-time sports stars. Schilling included. It sure seems Schilling is starring in this role as baseball savior during this postseason.
Schilling is absolutely eating up these moments on the world's biggest sporting stage. He has everyone convinced.
On the front door of the Thai Dish restaurant on Newberry Street, three miles from Fenway, there's no mistaking why Bostonians believe the Red Sox are playing in the World Series.
Curt Killed the Curse.
That's what it says on the hand-printed sign.
If the Red Sox's unofficial Thailand Fan Club can boast Schilling is the reason the Sox are alive, it's pretty clear Schilling's performance in Game 6 of the ALCS has immediately become something way, way beyond the usual stuff of epic, mythic or even urban legend.
But what if that wasn't blood on Schilling's sock?
When Schilling was asked about the red splotch on his sock after his 4-2 win over the Yankees last Tuesday, he said it might be a little bit of blood.
In the frenzy of the historic moments that produced the Red Sox's first ALCS victory since 1986, few stopped to consider that maybe Schilling wasn't willing to burst the image of a bloody sock by denying his sutures were bleeding.
And now no one cares, including his teammates.
Kevin Millar was the emotional king of Red Sox Nation for their first foray against the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS. His Cowboy Up antics galvanized the team and got the Red Sox to all row in one direction, with a ton of energy and heart.
But Millar will not second-guess Schilling: "Whatever he can do to get to the mound, he'll do."
Nor will catcher Jason Varitek.
Asked whether he thought Schilling was enjoying his self-made image as deified deliverer from despair for Red Sox Nation, Varitek smiled.
"Oh, I don't know. I'll say one thing: He's a great teammate. He'll do whatever it takes for us to win," Varitek said.
Does that include allowing the myth of the blood-stained sock to overtake the real possibility that it wasn't blood?
"Let's just say that he's a good teammate, a valuable asset, not just as a pitcher, but as a teammate," Varitek said.
And sometimes, the best teammates will take extraordinary measures to make sure the world understands just exactly what an amazing thing has just been accomplished.
Call it embellishment. Call it poetic license. Call it a great sportsman amplifying his own legend.
Why not?Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun