Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

The Tragedy of Tim Wakefield

Five years ago, on October 17, 2003, Tim Wakefield gave up an 11th-inning home run to Aaron Boone, a career .264 hitter best known for being someone’s brother.

If there is one memorable moment, one play that Boston fans most associate with Tim Wakefield, that is it.  And I don’t think there are any hard feelings (Grady Little got most of those and rightfully so), but the fact remains that Tim Wakefield, for all he has contributed to the Red Sox in his thirteen-plus years of service, simply does not receive the credit that I figure he somehow has to deserve by this point.

If I watched more television sitcoms, I could probably draw an apt analogy here.  Feel free to comment with suggestions.

But to say that the tragedy of Tim Wakeifled is simply a lack of attention or fan loyalty is wrong.  To understand what is so deeply disturbing about Wakefield’s predicament, we have to look at his identity as a professional pitcher.

To Don Orsillo, Jerry Remy, the screaming afternoon guys on WEEI, and the rest of the local media, Wakefield’s simply the guy who pitches between the shaky number 5 guy in the rotation, and the young rising arm that has been slotted number 3.  There’s never much to say about Wakefield.  The most you’ll hear is that the knuckleball is unpredictable.  A Wakefield start rests on the fate of the knuckleball.

The national media treats a Wakefield outing a bit like a trip to the circus.  This is the knuckleballer we’ve been telling you about! Watch him barely wind up!  He could throw forever if he had to!  Look at him go!  Hands away from the cage!  Hands away from the cage!

Wakefield the pitcher is eclipsed by the pitch of his own labor.  His knuckleball will forever overshadow his consistent career statistics, his generally good demeanor, his selfless willingness to take the mound whenever called upon.  His cumulative contributions to the Red Sox since 1995 could stack up against any other player in the last two decades.  Amongst the team’s all-time leaders, he is 3rd in wins, 2nd in games played, 3rd in innings pitched, and 2nd in strikeouts.

But he’s known first and foremost for a pitch he throws.

The ball, once it leaves his fingernails, does not spin.  A good knuckleball moves independent of its host’s release.  Wakefield cannot control it.  It is, by design, chaotic and erratic.  The better Wakefield throws the ball, the less spin it has, the less control he has over it.

The plight of Tim Wakefield is that no matter how well he pitches, the results are more independent of his actions than those of any other player in baseball.

In tonight’s game, Wakefield went 2.2 innings.  He may have completely mis-delivered all game, or the game time temperature could have been a few degrees cooler than needed for an effective knuckleball.  He could have pitched the worst game of his career, or pitched exactly as he did on the 28th of September when he gave up 0 runs against the Yankees.  Walking off the mound, staring at the ground, it was difficult to tell what happened to Wakefield tonight.  I couldn’t bring myself to completely blame him for the abysmal innings, and I don’t know if Wakefield himself could take full accountability for it either.

If this accountability conundrum plagues Wakefield when he’s losing, what can we say of when he’s winning?  It is as if Wakefield is not as good or as bad as the pitch he throws.  There is Tim Wakefield, and then there is the knuckleball.

Who is Tim Wakefield and what does he deserve?

This is the tragedy of Tim Wakefield.

What’s up with all the Boston sports injuries?

Is it the weather? Are the athletes changing their diets? Their rituals? First Tom Brady is out for the season, now Josh Beckett has been moved from starting the playoff series against the Angels to starting Game 3. Some of our star players are dropping like flies at very pivotal times. We cannot take victory for granted in this region. I’m not that old, but I very clearly remember when none of our professional teams couldn’t win to save their lives. Let’s not get lazy, folks. Stay healthy people!

Beer Here!

Well, at least in some places. According to this article, Fenway Park has begun serving beer in the aisles in some parts of the park. Currently this is only the field and dugout boxes, but if this works, who knows what might happen. It would be nice not to have to miss 2 innings of a game just to go get a beer.

Opening Day Notes

Just a few notes from today’s opening day ceremonies at Fenway (and a quesiton).

I got quite a laugh out of the 2007 banner that covered the Green Monster flying all around when they first dropped it. It was like 2004 didn’t want to be forgotten.

I loved that the Sox had Johnny Pesky hoist the flag. It sure seems like he gets a lot of respect around the clubhouse and it really showed today.

Bill Buckner came out to throw the first pitch to a HUGE ovation at Fenway. I guess the wound is finally healed. Bill looked rather emotional himself.

It was announced that Neil Diamond will play Fenway on August 23rd. So, here is the question part. Usually the Fenway concerts happen during the All Star Break (right?), this is during the season. Do the folks over at Fenway have another concert to announce (Bon Jovi was supposed to be this year’s show) or is the Neil Diamond show going to be the only show at Fenway this summer (this would break my streak of Fenway shows, since I saw Dave and The Police and have zero interest in Diamond).

Fenway Tickets

Chuck and co. post a brief one about the new practice of auctioning off Green Monster seats.

It Works!

I didn’t believe anyone ever actually got an opportunity to buy Sox tickets after sitting in that ridiculous virtual waiting room, but after four and a half hours I scored a pair of tickets to a Yankee game. I guess that thing actually works after all.

Who Gets Your Vote?

If the Patriots complete their perfect season this Sunday in Arizona, it is going to cause quite an issue in Boston. Tuesday is Super Tuesday, so extra security is needed for polling places and Tuesday would be the only day next week that a victory parade could get pulled off, which needs extra security. It would create a logistical nightmare for the city.

So, who would get your vote, the Pats or the Polls?

A better candidate?

Brady / Moss ’08!

BRADY – MOSS in 08!

From Jimmy Dunn

Lots of Boston on 60 Minutes Tonight

Amy points out that there is a lot of Boston related content on 60 Minutes tonight.

First, Boston mob triggerman John Martorano is on talking about the murders he committed and why. Then, Roger Clemens has his first interview since the Mitchell Report. Should be interesting to watch for anyone in Boston.

Clemens Gets His Day In Court

Actually, Congress. According to this article, Clemens and Andy Pettitte have been asked to testify before a congressional committee looking in to steroid use in baseball. The trainer, Brian McNamee, has also been asked to be there.

According to Boston Dirt Dogs, Clemens is now claiming he only has injected B-12. They point out that this was a joke back in the day and was even mentioned in Jose Cancesco’s “Juiced”.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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