The Baseball Desert

Sunday, May 28, 2006


A win - even against the Devil Rays - is always a good thing, but it has a sweeter taste to it when there's a personal milestone involved. I went six innings last night - one less than Schilling - before my body finally gave up its struggle against early-morning fatigue, but I'm glad to see that the score stayed exactly as I left it, and Schilling got his 200th career win.

Almost as enjoyable to read as the account of Schilling's win was his reaction to it. From what I've seen and heard he was genuinely moved not only to have reached this milestone but also by Sox' fans reaction to it:
Once the game was over, the sold-out Fenway Park crowd kept chanting Schilling's name until he emerged from the clubhouse to receive another standing ovation.

"I just know that walking out on that field after the game is an experience I'll never forget," Schilling said. "I'll never forget what those fans just did for me. Those are the things that when you're done playing, I think, they last forever, the memories that these fans can create for you."
Reading that, I was reminded of Bill Simmons' Now I Can Die In Peace, in which he writes about Nomar after Game 4 in '98:
He didn't have to come out of the dugout and applaud the Fenway fans after Game Four. But he did. And he left everyone in Fenway and everyone watching on TV with the same feeling: There's a guy who cares about us.

Here's my theory: Fans are like dogs. Feed us, walk us, fill our bowls with water every few hours, give us those little rawhide treats... just remember to rub our heads and bellies every once in a while. That's what Nomar did on Saturday night. You can have A-Rod, Jeter, Griffey and Sosa; I'll take Nomar, and not just because he's the most talented Red Sox player I've ever seen (what other right-handed hitter homers into the freaking bullpen at Fenway?), or because he competes as hard as anyone who ever wore a Boston uniform. The guy says and does all the right things.
[Baseball Desert note: oh, how times changed...] Sadly, that counts as an asset in today's sports world.
You can say what you want about Schilling, but he just flat out gets it. He understands what this team means to its fans, and the fans know what Schilling means to the team. Last night's applause was not just about win #200 - it was about what Schilling has brought to Boston over the past three seasons. This is a guy who literally put his career on the line to bring a World Series trophy to Boston. And that, as Mastercard will tell you, is priceless.