Saturday, May 19, 2007

Messterpiece Theater

What separates outstanding from lesser pitchers went on display Thursday night at Fenway Park. Curt Schilling didn't have his best velocity or command, yet merits respect for turning lemons into lemonade.

For every ten starts, there will be a distribution of 'stuff' and results according to many factors. Wins and losses come not solely from the physical ability (brawn) but also from the pitching acumen (brains), and of course, run support. The best pitchers have the greatest skew distribution of high-level performance but also can keep the team either in the game or winning with something less.

Think back to your lifetime baseball observational experience. You have Clemens, Martinez, and Maddox who won first of all because they had a high percentage of games with quality stuff. If you're an old-timer like me, you grew up watching Koufax, Marichal, and Gibson with similar qualities. But you also had pitchers like Jack McDowell, Jack Morris, and Dave Stieb who compiled high winning percentages OUT OF PROPORTION to their E.R.A. by pitching 'just well enough" to pick up victories through guile and grit.

I'm not comparing the latter three to either of the former trios, rather using them as examples of pitchers whose craft may have exceeded their raw ability. Making chicken soup out of chicken feathers, creates a formidable legacy.

Schilling may come off as arrogant and abrasive at times, not as the ALF of Major League Baseball, but rather as a genuine person. Regardless of whether you like him or not, you have to respect him. Which is probably just the way he wants it. Few people can go through life without anyone saying a harsh word about them...and few pitchers can do what Schilling did the other evening with his 'messterpiece'.

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