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Three days' rest — what's the big deal?

November 4, 2009

It’s October baseball (November, actually). The rules go out the window, right? The season is 27 outs from being over … literally, every game.

That’s the mindset I always felt worked for me in October. You do whatever you have to, whenever you have to, to have one more run than the other team.

From a starting pitcher’s standpoint, three days’ rest in October was never an issue, because from the time you’re 5 years old, doing that “World Series” replay in your back yard, it’s the game, the innings, the at-bats you’ve always dreamed about having the ball in your hand for.

I’ve always appreciated the respect pitching on three days’ rest in October got you, but go back to 2001, go to 2004 and beyond, and when you look at anyone pitching on three days’ rest you realize there were far bigger goings-on.

Yes, in 2001 I started three games in nine days, and, to be honest, thanks to masseuse Russell Nua and his therapy I felt better over those 48 innings than at any point in the season. But the far bigger story was an almost 40-year-old, 6-foot-10 pitcher coming in, in relief, the DAY AFTER he pitched seven innings.

In 2004 you had Keith Foulke who pitched in pretty much every single game, in insanely high-leverage innings, the entire month.

At the end of the day short rest is all about the player and his makeup. CC Sabathia? Does anyone question this kid’s desire? Goals? Motivation? After what he did in Milwaukee last year, you can’t. But this year he’s only reinforced that for me. He’s a stud, and he’s an ace. Aces take the ball on three days’ rest and make sure you — the media — understand it’s a non-issue and should be writing about more important stuff.

I always felt the other teams thought that they were going to be getting a “lesser version” of me on three days’ rest. The Yankees said as much after the 2001 World Series. I thought that gave me a huge advantage. Before they could figure out I wasn’t “less,” and didn’t have diminished stuff, we’d be in the third or fourth inning.

I guess for me it comes back to the player. I always felt the need to make sure the manager KNEW I wanted to do it, and ya, I’d put up a fight to get the shot to be able to do it. If as a player you don’t assert this, you leave the manager sitting there in a no-win, really. If he does it, and you don’t do well, it’s his fault for pushing you. If he doesn’t do it, and you lose, it’s not your fault because he didn’t ask. That’s the easy way, I think, and I’ve watched guys take it more than once. Being the “quiet type,” I never could. You may never be there again, and the belief that in October I could not be outpitched, regardless of whether it was true or not, made me push to get the ball in my hands if at all possible.

I mean, it’s the World Series, there are no more games after this, right? Nine innings in October can change the lives of every person in the organization. How cool is it to know that power rests in the ball being in your hands? Scary? Hell, yes. But that’s why it’s so damn fun. On the biggest stage, with the most on the line, let the rest of the world shrink back or cower — me? I’m good with letting it all hang out, and letting the chips fall. I’ve done my work, in the weight room and the video room, now it comes down to execution.

Sitting on the bench before heading to the bullpen to start warming up for Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, I was sitting next to Jeff Matuzas, our bullpen catcher and a good friend. In my head I’d just had a conversation with my Dad, who passed away suddenly when I was 21. I was nervous, scared as hell, really, and I can remember his voice popping into my head.

“What the hell are you afraid of? You’ve worked your ass off, you’re going to go down, get loose, and then you’re going to take the mound in front of billions of people for Game 7 of the World Series against Clemens and the Yankees. All that fluff aside, after the first pitch you are doing what you’ve loved, what you’ve done your whole life. You’ll bust your ass, give it everything you have, and hopefully you win, but at the end of this night you’ll have nothing left to give.”

When I finished the thought I was smiling, sort of laughing at how casual he was about what many consider high-stress situations.

Tooz’ looks at me, he’s literally sweating, “Dude, what the hell! How can you be smiling right now?”

“What? What’s not to smile about, man? I am starting Game 7 of the fricking World Series against Roger Clemens and the New York Yankees? How cool is that?”

He replies, “Schill, I’m the f-ing bullpen catcher and I can’t breathe.”

We laughed, got up, strolled down to the ‘pen and had a hell of a night.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. jay destro permalink
    November 4, 2009 1:26 pm

    it’s always about you isn’t it schill?

  2. November 4, 2009 4:15 pm

    “In 2004 you had Keith Foulke who pitched in pretty much every single game, in insanely high-leverage innings, the entire month.”

    Yep, in the ALCS, he threw around 100 pitches in the span of only 48 hours. I’ll love him forever for what he did, but the load of those few weeks quite likely ruined/ended his career.

  3. Dave permalink
    November 4, 2009 4:57 pm

    Jay…..get a life….

  4. November 4, 2009 5:25 pm

    it’s his blog. Nice insight. Anyone would want in the game, as bad as AJ pitched the other night, he said today that he would pitch out of the bullpen both nights. Thats what it is all about, wanting to win.

  5. November 4, 2009 6:55 pm

    That’s the way an ace should think, and in some cases can back it up. The Schillings & Johnsons are few and far between. Sabathia has proven to be that kind of horse, but I gotta question Pettitte. He’s 37. Old by pre-steroid baseball standards. But if Gerardi trusts no one else (and he has reason not to trust anyone else), it’s a good gamble. And Rivera for 2 innings seems to be the plan.

    For Philly I understand why they didn’t choose this avenue. There just ain’t that many ‘old time’ grinders that can take the ball on short rest.

  6. Jason Duga permalink
    November 4, 2009 7:32 pm

    Oh boy! Curt the Contrarian at his best. Fox just showed the disparity the other night between pitching on regular rest vs 3 days rest and its not even close. I guess Curt likes talking about himself a lot more than the facts.

  7. Joe permalink
    November 4, 2009 7:34 pm

    Whis you were starting instead of Pete, Go Philly ruin the party.

  8. Jennifer permalink
    November 4, 2009 9:02 pm

    Wasn’t the bullpen catcher named Jeff Motuzas?

  9. Jason permalink
    November 4, 2009 9:45 pm

    I don’t know why everyone gives Schilling a hard time. When you succeed, you have a right to gloat.

  10. empirelady permalink
    November 5, 2009 1:18 am

    Message to jay destro: Those of us who read this blog do so because we WANT to read what Curt has to say. We not only value and respect his opinion(regardless of whether we agree with it or not)BUT we also WANT to hear the stories of things that happened in the past,when he was pitching. I personally think that it is very touching and moving that at a stressful point, such as it was, he thought of his father and what his father would say. That is something that we did not know about at the time he was pitching and it is great to hear about it now. I also give Curt much credit for sharing his innermost thoughts with us. The whole idea of him writing about himself and what he thinks,feels,etc. is because it is HIS blog and that is why I come to this blog,because I know that it is him writing his thoughts,feelings,comments,etc. The point is that if you do not like what Curt has to say or do not like hearing him tell stories of the past,then you do not have to read this blog;nobody is forcing you to read it or even look at it. But for those of us who do enjoy reading it,such as I do,do not bother us with your petty complaining and whining. You are preaching to the wrong crowd. And Curt,if you are reading this,I value your opinion,respect your opinion,enjoy hearing about stories of the past,want to keep reading what you have to say,please keep writing,and do not pay attention to this jerk. He is the minority,not the MAJORITY(I know that I am not alone in my thoughts). Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts regarding your pitching in that game,and how difficult,painful,it must also have been for you with thoughts of your father.
    Donna

  11. Joe Turkos permalink
    November 5, 2009 1:41 am

    You’re 100% correct. A person’s mental approach to any situation, no matter if it’s pitching in Game 7 of the World Series or going on a sales call, is critical. The media has too much time and space to fill.

  12. Deb Kendall permalink
    November 5, 2009 1:39 pm

    Is it too much to point out this is his blog?

  13. November 6, 2009 12:50 am

    Curtand george jr probably rooted for the yankees because they dont spend there money pedros a much better man than curt could ever be. you could never play for the yankees sayonara

  14. Rob Bailey permalink
    November 7, 2009 5:40 pm

    How do you pitch 3 games in 9 days and total 48 innings?

  15. Jason Duga permalink
    November 10, 2009 8:02 pm

    Deb, I think people, people for the most part, are just amazed how an individual can talk about himself so much. I do find Curt interesting (or I wouldn’t have read this) but I do at times wish he would just give us some more baseball insight, instead of the normal me…me…me.

  16. blue dog permalink
    November 14, 2009 10:50 am

    Rob Bailey, it’s simple. You just pitch three consecutive extra inning 16 inning complete game starts (in 9 days.)

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