Don't get me wrong: the game was excruciating in the end, as Schilling donned his best red-and-white-checkered apron, chef's hat and false Guido mustache and began serving up piping hot meatballs to all comers. I never want to see him walking off the field the way he did, the picture of defeat. I never want to have the thoughts I've been having, which are that the miracles of Game 6 and Game 2 were a "Faustian bargain" just coming home to roost.
But it's been apparent for at least several weeks now that this situation couldn't hold. Until and unless Keith Foulke comes back, we're screwed, bullpen-wise. It's kind of a no-brainer that Schilling's not a closer. He's never claimed to be; he's doing what he can for the team at the moment, and trying to work his way back to starting form. It's not, um, easy, folks, although I guess that's news to some people.
All of a sudden, Francona's an idiot for putting Schilling in last night. You'll notice that wasn't the case for the last 13 games, but one loss and he's suddenly the straw man for frustrations. Suddenly we "won the World Series in spite of him" and people are challenging me to name three good decisions of his in the postseason (Please. Really. Just, please.). People are running around like their hair's on fire Tuesday-morning managing the team. Timlin to closer, Schilling to Pawtucket. Schilling to mop-up man, Jeremi Gonzalez to closer. Because our myopia runs so deep, we are completely overlooking the fact that in a role to which he is unaccustomed, that I think everyone agrees he is not even suited for, Schilling has done better than we could have expected.
As Soxaholix quoted a SoSH member as saying:
Schilling has appeahed in 13 of our last 18 games, and in 19 of the 29 games we've played since he went to the bullpen. This is a recipe for disastah for a careah relief pitchah, never mind for a guy who hasn't relieved in 13 years and is accustomed to wahming up for 30 minutes+ before a staht.
Nobody thinks this is a good idea. Nobody thinks we're going to win the World Series with things the way they are. Least of all Tito or the front office. Both are working within their means, and how is it that Theo Epstein, who didn't make too many acquisitions to bolster the bullpen this year - and those he did are not panning out well - is not someone we "won the World Series in spite of"? How is it Theo isn't taking more heat for not giving Tito more tools to work with? As the old coaches' saying goes, you can't make chicken salad with chicken shit.
At this point, given circumstances beyond anyone's control, there is a strict set of events that need to transpire in order for the 2005 Boston Red Sox to be successful. I've said it before and I'll say it again:
This is what has to happen: Foulke needs to come back, guns blazing. Schilling needs to get back in the starting rotation and wobble not even an iota. Bronson needs to stop with the implosions every other start. Matt Clement needs to hold the line. David Wells could stand to turn things up a notch. Tim Wakefield can remain as he is, although fewer gopher balls would always help his cause. With Foulke back, Timlin can go back to the eighth inning where he belongs. If all that happens, we'll still probably find ourselves hyperventilating and chugging the Maalox in the sixth and seventh innings about three times a week. And at least half of those times, with good reason.
That's it. That's the only possibility we're left with. There are no more trades to be made. No amount of calling for the head of the manager, the GM, the pitchers, is going to bring about what we'd like to see.
There will be more of these losses - in fact, I personally am surprised there haven't been far more of them already. The least we can do as the most supposedly knowledgeable fan base in all of baseball is not be shocked and shrieking when they happen.
I'm not saying I like it any more than the next person. But from my point of view, none of us have any choice but to wait things out - including Schilling, Foulke, and Francona themselves.
Seriously, people, this is me saying this, so you know it's bad - take a breath.