The best and brightest in research, engineering, and medicine have been working nonstop to solve one of the most pressing problems facing the nation.

Of course, I speak of Red Sox Nation, and the problem of stabilizing Curt Shilling's right achilles tendon.

Reebok has built a custom high-top cleat to do the job. I expect to hear much more on this miracle of science soon, now that Game 6 has gone from "extremely hypothetical" to "Tuesday". For now, this story from the Globe will do:

The suspense surrounding Curt Schilling's possible return to the mound in the American League Championship Series intensified yesterday as the Red Sox indicated Schilling has found the footwear that would enable him to pitch if his injured right ankle permits it.

Manager Terry Francona said Schilling was experiencing normal soreness in his ankle the day after he tested a customized high-top cleat in his first bullpen session since his injury-shortened start in Game 1. The only problem was the shoe, built by Reebok, was too small and hurt Schilling's toes. He received a new pair of cleats yesterday.

"I think he's real comfortable with that high-top as long as he gets the right size," Francona said, indicating Schilling could pitch without an additional brace. "That was Plan A going out to the bullpen, and I think it worked pretty successfully."

The only remaining question was whether the footwear and a dose of the anesthetic Marcaine would permit Schilling to pitch effectively with a dislocated peroneal tendon. The tendon, whose protective sheath ruptured Sept. 26, runs around the back of his ankle.

"I think he kind of feels like we do, that the door isn't closed," Francona said. "Until it does [close], you keep the hope and faith, and try to work hard and do what you're supposed to do. We'll kind of see how it goes."

That attitude is slowly bringing us back from the brink, one game at a time. On a more personal note, residency matching has taken on an added dimension...