Monday, November 01, 2004

Pain don't hurt

OK, so Curt Schilling’s post-season performance ranks right up there with Achilles last stand, or any other fable or parable you want to equate with it.

But why? Well, for me, it’s because he’s a Red Sock, and beat both the Yankees and the Cardinals and brought us to the Promised Land.

But I have to wonder about others’ perception of his outings.

What is society’s fascination with pro athletes (or pro anythings) playing through pain and hurt? People tend to put these sorts of performances on a pedestal of some sort. I always figured that the ability to throw 95-mph darts on the outside corner was reason enough to be elevated to Godhood.

Willis Reed? He limped onto the floor, scored four points in the entire game and people say it’s the greatest performance ever in the NBA until Jordan and his flu came along.

People talk about Jack Youngblood playing on a broken leg. Talk about Ronnie Lott having his pinky chopped off at the knuckle instead of being placed in a splint, just so he could go out and play.

Did they contribute to the success, or lack thereof, of their teams? Perhaps. I certainly thought Schilling was torpedoing any shot the Sox had after his Game 1 outing against the Yankees.

Where is the line between hubris/stupidity and common sense? Hey, if I get drugged up enough, I can forgo any pain as long as it helps me beat McClain in a game of DMB.

But it’s not just limited to athletes. Pete Townsend, while wind-milling some power chords, wracked his pick hand on his whammy bar. Had to have it all taped up and bandaged.

And he kept on playing throughout the duration of the tour. Now, with the egomaniacal, money-centric person that Pete is, I think we can all agree that the only reason he did that was to make more money than the Rolling Stones that year.

But was it a smart decision? Who am I to say? In retrospect, Schilling’s doctors knew what they were doing, at least for the time being, and millions in Red Sox Nation are very appreciative.

I just wonder why the general public is so enamored with playing through pain.

Heck, my kids get little certificates if they make it through the entire school year without missing a day. Same goes for Sunday School at church. Some parents pride themselves on this stuff — in any given rush hour, you’ll find 10 cars with “My child is….” bumper stickers.

Uh, sorry, but if your kid has pinkeye or chicken pox, I sure as hell don’t want him or her anywhere near my kids just so you can get a stupid little sticker.

Same goes for sports – if you are hurt, and my team is in position to make history, I would tend to view you with a little suspicion if you tried to play through the pain just because you think you can.

How many Sox fans thought it was over when Schilling was drilled?

Maybe it’s just a reflection of society’s misguided sense of priorities and appreciation. Yeah, I appreciate what Schilling did. But I also appreciate what Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller and Orlando Cabrera did — and I would argue what they did was almost as unexpected as what Schilling did.


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