NEW YORK -- Curt Schilling signed with Boston for this very
reason -- to silence the hated Yankees and pitch the Red Sox to that
elusive World Series title.
"I was talking to [pitcher] Terry Mulholland [in 1993], and he said the awesome thing about being a starting pitcher is you have the ability to make 55,000 people shut up when you're on the road," Schilling said Monday, according to the Boston Herald.
"I'm not sure of any scenario more enjoyable than making 55,000 people from New York shut up," he added with a laugh, a day before starting the opener at Yankee Stadium against Mike Mussina.
Before the first pitch was even thrown, the AL championship
series had players buzzing. They thought back to the 45 intense
meetings between the rivals during the past two years, to the
on-field fights and the clubhouse boasts.
But in a series that seemed predestined since Aaron Boone's Game
7 homer off Tim Wakefield won last October's playoff in the 11th
inning, there was an element of uncertainty for the Yankees this
time. It centered on the status of closer Mariano Rivera, who
returned to Panama on Sunday after two of his wife's relatives -- a
cousin and his son -- were electrocuted in his swimming pool.
While the Yankees said Rivera planned to be back for Tuesday
night's game, manager Joe Torre wasn't taking anything for granted.
"If he's here tomorrow, obviously, it would be wonderful,"
Torre said. "If not, we understand that."
Tom Gordon, his left eye still a little blurry after it was hit
by a champagne cork in Saturday's clubhouse celebration at
Minnesota, would take over as the closer if Rivera is absent.
Tanyon Sturtze and Paul Quantrill would replace Gordon as the setup
While Gordon's good, he's not Rivera. No one else is.
"I never had a problem with it. I enjoyed closing," Gordon
said. "Whatever it takes for this team to get a win."
Following Boston's first-round sweep of Anaheim and New York's
3-1 win over the Twins, Schilling and Mussina are rested heading
into the opener. The Red Sox rotation has Pedro Martinez pitching
Game 2 on Wednesday, followed by Bronson Arroyo on Friday at Fenway
Park and Wakefield the following day in Game 4.
Jon Lieber and Kevin Brown follow Mussina for the Yankees, who
still haven't decided between Orlando Hernandez or Javier Vazquez
in the fourth game. El Duque, bothered by a tired arm, felt better
Monday, when he threw about 60 pitches in a bullpen session,
according to pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.
Major league baseball decided Monday to move Game 5, the only
scheduled afternoon contest of the series, into prime time, bumping
the NLCS to the earlier time slot. They are the two biggest
spenders in baseball, the Yankees at $186.4 million and the Red Sox
at $128.1 million, according to the Aug. 31 payroll. Judging by the
TV ratings, baseball fans are captivated by New York's Derek Jeter
and Alex Rodriguez and Boston's Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.
"I know this is what everyone was hoping for, I imagine,"
Mussina said. "I think it's the way it should be."
Schilling, acquired by the Red Sox from Arizona last November,
plays for moments like these. He's won six straight postseason
decisions since 1993, allowing two earned runs or fewer in all nine
of his starts. He beat Mussina for the Diamondbacks in the 2001
World Series opener, then defeated him again on April 15 this year
at Fenway Park.
"I don't know that I've ever pitched in a game that will have
the atmosphere that tomorrow's game has. In Arizona during the
World Series, it was electric," Schilling said, "but I think the
Yankees and the Red Sox is a step above everything else."
Wearing a T-shirt with the words "Why Not Us?" Schilling
talked about how he likes to quiet fans when he pitches on the road
-- especially Yankees fans' still giddy following the seventh
straight AL East title for New York (101-61) and the seventh
second-place finish in a row by Boston (98-64).
"It's going to be loud," he predicted. "It's going to be
Schilling, who went 21-6 to lead the major leagues in wins,
threw short tosses Monday, a day after testing out an injection of
painkillers on his right ankle. Three years ago, he said the
Diamondbacks weren't intimidated by the Yankees because "mystique
and aura, those are dancers in a nightclub, those are not things we
concern ourselves on the ball field." Then he watched New York hit
tying two-run homers in the bottom of the ninth on consecutive
nights to win Games 4 and 5 before Arizona rallied against Rivera
in Game 7 to stop New York's streak of three straight titles.
He knows games like these define careers.
"You can make a name for yourself in one inning, one play, one
pitch that you can't make in another series with any other teams,"
Schilling came to Boston primarily because of Terry Francona,
his former manager in Philadelphia. Francona, who took over the Red
Sox after Grady Little left Martinez in too long in Game 7, knew
right away there was something special to this rivalry.
"I started to feel that in spring training when there was a
line at 6 a.m.," he said. "I had people yelling at me because we
didn't play all our regulars."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.