To hemorrhage, or not to hemorrhage.

That is the question to which Gary Thorne either botched, misunderstood or fabricated the answer, according to the holdovers who won 2004 World Series rings with the Boston Red Sox.

In his TV account of the Red Sox-Orioles game Wednesday night, the Old Town native flippantly dismissed Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, worshipped by so many New England sports lifers like the Shroud of Turin, as a sham.

Thorne ridiculed the blotch that appeared above Schilling’s shoe top in Game 6 of that year’s American League Championship Series as paint, attributing the declaration to back-up catcher Doug Mirabelli. Then he transitioned into “two balls, two strikes” without even a breath.

His words floated like a Tim Wakefield knuckler on a bad night, and the besmirched are teeing off.

Mirabelli denied it. Well, duh. Schilling gave the arrogant sneer that unfortunately has become part of his aging veteran’s repertoire and took a swipe at the entire journalism profession, even as his mounting blog activity conveys the feeling that he’s trying to join the ranks.

Not sure I completely believe or feel sorry for anyone involved.

Urban legend is the lifeblood of baseball. To this day, I don’t know if I believe that Babe Ruth actually meant to wave his bat at the bleachers before hitting that World Series home run off Charlie Root.

Did late, great malcontent Eric Show really sit on the mound and pout like a spoiled, little debutante after surrendering the record-breaking 4,192nd hit to Pete Rose? I don’t know, because I’m not convinced anybody caught it on camera. But it’s a hell of a story.

Baseball fans don’t let facts get in the way of our good stories. We’re ready to Photoshop an asterisk onto Barry Bonds’ forehead the nanosecond we see the picture of him circling the bases after No. 756, even though there is precisely zero conclusive proof that he broke rules to get there.

Thorne let convictions of “journalistic integrity” supersede his love affair with the game. Love brought us to this business. When any of us get to that point, it’s time to retire and open a hot dog stand.

Never mind that his comment was the antithesis of integrity. Yeah, I suspect that Mirabelli made an off-the-cuff or even off-the-record comment one night to a guy whose ears he considered safe. Thorne should have exercised those ears, as well as the caution in the brain between them, and kept his mouth shut. But like most talking heads nowadays, his desire to be heard and create the story won out.

That’s my take as a writer. As a fan, this doesn’t change a thing. Schilling pitched two heroic games in those playoffs. Whether the magenta matter on his sanitary hose was blood, paint or pesto sauce, Boston won eight consecutive games in October 2004. There isn’t a paint dark enough to remove those from the book.


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