Curt Schilling’s bloody sock goes for $92,613 at auction

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From the Associated Press, via NBCSports.com:

NEW YORK (AP) – A bloody sock worn by Curt Schilling while pitching for the Boston Red Sox in Game 2 of the 2004 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals was sold for $92,613 at a live auction on Saturday night at the Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion.

Schilling had loaned his sock to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum but when his Rhode Island-based video game company “38 Studios” went bankrupt, he decided to sell the sock that was bloodied as he pitched on an injured ankle.

Bidding began at $25,000 on Monday.

ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell calls the final $92,613 bid a “disappointment” and suspects that the “decline of Schilling’s business and his name associated with it had a lot to do with the low price.”

This sock is not the famous one he wore during Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees. Rather, it’s the one he wore in Game 2 of the World Series against the Cardinals. So that may have factored into the lack of mystique. Schilling says he threw that Game 6 bloody sock into the trash at Yankee Stadium.

He probably never envisioned having such massive money problems.

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.