As much as I love a good conspiracy theory, I never seriously considered that Curt Schilling might have faked his bloody sock. Call me naive but I just couldn’t believe that anyone could be so petty or insecure or narcissistic to use fucking ketchup to fake an open wound, to either give himself an excuse for a poor performance or self-aggrandize his mythos if he succeeded. But with everything we’ve learned about Schilling since he retired, I find myself with more and more doubts. And this latest anecdote might actually swing the burden of proof back on Schilling.
Vice Sports found a section of Joe Buck’s new book about the 2001 World Series, the first one where managers were wearing microphones for broadcast. In Game 4, Schilling left after an effective seven innings, in a game the Diamondbacks would lose on Byung-Hyun Kim’s blown save. Fox showed video of Schilling “arguing” with manager Bob Brenly, pleading his case to come back out for the eighth.
Earlier in that inning, Schilling had told his catcher, Damian Miller, that he was running out of gas: “Whatever happens, this is my last inning. Don’t let him put me back out there again.” Naturally, Miller told Brenly.
But Schilling could see the microphone on Brenly’s uniform. He knew he would look better if he begged to keep pitching on national television. So he asked Brenly to keep him the game...They both knew he was coming out.
Brenly got lots of heat for pulling Schilling against his will—the whole country had heard Schilling protest in the dugout. But Brenly couldn’t call out one of his aces for being a glory hound.
The mixed messages from Schilling continued through that series. Before Game 6, Schilling apparently complained to Brenly that he was spent, leading Brenly to announce at a pregame press conference that Schilling “expressed some concern that he was a little more taxed physically than he thought he would be after pitching in Game 4.” So Brenly said he was unable to tell reporters if Schilling would be able to start Game 4.
Schilling then strode into the room midway through Brenly’s press conference to announce he could start, “and if he gives me the ball, I will.”
Schilling certainly has a flair for the dramatic. I’m just going to point out that the bloody sock which was auctioned off three years ago, which someone could presumably test for bloodstains, is not the sock Schilling wore against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. That sock was “lost.”