I watched 50 First Dates for the first time this weekend, and was liking it a lot... Until I saw this:
Somehow, Adam Sandler grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire, and is a huge Yankees fan, as evidenced by the dig at the Sox in the video above.
When I saw the video, I almost cried. Not because the Red Sox lost, because I know what happened the very next year (good thing I didn't see it in theaters!). No, I got choked up because of the look on Tim Wakefield's face. Somehow, I've managed to avoid seeing that look since it happened six years ago (though the clowns at Fox/ESPN try to show it every time the Sox play New York), and I was blindsided.
Tim Wakefield came to the Red Sox in 1995, just after the baseball strike, and right around the time I was learning that "S-O-X" spelled the baseball team and "S-O-C-K-S" spelled the article of clothing I was always losing. I do not remember a Red Sox team without Tim Wakefield, and I'm vaguely terrified that I'll one day have to face one.
Thankfully, that day won't be in the next two years, as the Red Sox have reportedly signed him to a two-year deal worth a guaranteed $5 million, with additional incentives. Of course, Wake had a $4 million recurring option, but this deal seems like a good fit for both sides. Tim has never really cared about the money; he's one of those really rare players that understands that $4 million is a hell of a lot of money, and doesn't see the need to bicker about it. His philosophy is refreshing, and so is his unapologetic loyalty to one team, especially in an era where greed is a virtue and spending an entire career with one organization is blasphemy (I'm ignoring the two years with Pittsburgh... they don't count).
Wakefield has given his heart and soul to the Boston Red Sox, getting out on the mound and sacrificing his body in the bleakest of situations (see above). Over the last fifteen seasons, Wake has racked up 388 starts (franchise record), 25 complete games, 175 wins (17 from the team record), 22 saves (yes, he was a closer - mostly in 1999), and 2711.1 innings, with an average of 203 innings per year. Tim Wakefield has done whatever the Sox have asked of him, starting, closing, middle relief, and emergency mop-up duty. He is the consummate professional whose only conceit - having a personal catcher - was due to Jason Varitek's inability to catch a knuckleball, not his own selfishness *cough*AJBurnettneedstogrowup*cough*.
Think of the last time you heard a bad word about Tim Wakefield's character or work ethic. Oh, you can't? That's because Wake is the ultimate clubhouse guy, and even if young pitchers can't emulate his mechanics, they can admire his hard work, drive, and stamina. The man is forty-three years old for god's sake, and still an important part of the Boston Red Sox. Sure, you can depend on some sort of late-season meltdown, but don't forget he won eleven games for the Sox last season, and he makes a quality start 53% of the time (MLB average is 48%).
I hope that Wake will be able to win 18 games in the next two years, and take the franchise record. I think he can do it, and I know he thinks so too, because he wouldn't be on the team if he didn't think he had something left to give. When the time comes, John Henry and company had better do the right thing by Wakefield: I want to see #49 up on that right field wall. Tim Wakefield will probably not be a Hall of Famer, but he should never have to buy himself a drink in New England again.