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Tim Wakefield, all is forgiven.

Posted by athomeatfenway on February 24, 2012

Tim Wakefield ruined at least 3 dozen Sundays for me over the years.  He caused me financial pain, wasted my time, induced boredom, frustration, and hopelessness.  But in the end, he won a big victory for every old guy who ever dreamed of wearing a uniform.

Whenever I ponied up the dough to get into the lyric little bandbox, there was the old man, thick around the middle, slide stepping toward the plate and lobbing his 68 mph slop.  I almost never missed being randomly assigned to watch Wake when I went to Fenway.  This went on for a decade.  Luck of the draw.

Wakefield was never in demand.  He was an innings eater.  A number 5.  He gave a quality start 20% of the time.  A mediocre start 35% of the time.  A bad start start 30%, and a stinking-baby-diaper -of-a-start 15% of the time.   When Wake was bad no starter in MLB seemed worse.   So when you saw Wake, you cursed damned luck and wondered who a guy had to bribe to see Pedro.

I longed for a Pedro Martinez start.  From 1998 through 2003, no one was better at making AL batters look ridiculous.  Later, Schilling arrived to take the Ace position and Pedro ducats loosened up a little.

Try as I might, I was anchored to Wake even though I bought up 12 different games a year and drove 2,500 round trip miles from Connecticut per season.

Amplifying my Wakefield pain was the fact that from 2002 through 2003, John Burkett started most of the other games I saw in which Timmy did not appear.

You can say what you want about Burkett and his 15 – 17, 4.86 record for Boston, but I’ll tell you this:  For the first 4 innings of every game John looked like Tom Seaver.  When he got to the 5th, he could be as bad as Timmy.

Burkett was better than Wakefield.  Everyone except Matt Clement was better than Wakefield.

Red Sox fans knew this and lamented the wasted roster spot.  “Just get rid of Wakefield.  He stinks !”  The cries went up every time he yielded 5 earned runs in 2 or 3 innings.  The WEEI phone lines burned with anti-Wake tirades.  Fans shouted it in Yawkey Way and on Beacon Street.

And then on June 8th, 2010 in Cleveland, something remarkable happened when Wake K’d Jhonny Peralta in the 7th inning on a 1-2 knuckler.  Timmy passed Catfish Hunter on the All Time strikeout list with his 2,012th K.

That milestone magically transformed Wakefield’s paunch into a badge of middle aged super achievement.  This guy suddenly seemed built to last and he would strike people out until he qualified for AARP.  Fanciful fans wondered if Tim was destined to pitch his way past Palmer (2,212), Marichal (2,303) and Koufax (2,396).  Heck, he could do that in just 5 more seasons.

But Father Time said it was not meant to be.  Tim pitched only another season-and-a-half after passing Catfish.  He K’d only another 143 batters, finishing with 2,156 strikeouts and in 56th place on the all time list.

Father Time also said no to Tim on surpassing Clemens and Young for the all time wins by a Sox starter.  Tim’s pathetic string of 5 consecutive losses in 2011 from August 14 to Sept. 7 hastened his retirement as well as the Sox’s September collapse.

And yet, there is much love for Timmy’s contributions to the team and the town.  He started.  He relieved.  He did abundant charity work.  He arrived in Beantown when Canseco was the D.H. and Mo Vaughn was the first baseman.  He played with Greenwell, Tinsley and O’Leary.  He teamed with the Rocket when Clemens registered a 4.18 ERA in “the twilight of his career”, according to Dan Duquette.

Tim stayed through the Nomar-Pedro-Damon-Manny-Schilling-Youkilis-Beckett-Buchholz-Pedroia years.

He stayed for 17 years.

His real accomplishment is durability.

No one stays 17 years with one team anymore except Derek Jeter and Mo Rivera.  Varitek pulled 15 years in Boston.  Pujols bagged St. Louis after 11 seasons. 

17 is a big number.

And for that, Tim Wakefield, I salute you, and hold you in high esteem, willing to forget the time and money that I could have better used than to observe your knuckling.

From one old guy to another, God Bless and Good Speed, Wake.

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Tim Wakefield set to pass Catfish

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 9, 2009

Wake will be 43 on August 2

 

 

 

Wake will be 43 on August 2

Tim Wakefield passed Whitey Ford on the All Time Strikeout List this month.  He is 19 K’s behind Red Ruffing, 31 K’s behind Billy Pierce, and 44 K’s below Catfish Hunter. 

 

He is #70 on the list.

 

Wake will pass Catfish later this season.  Of course, Hunter was 33 when he pitched his last, and Wakefield is almost 43.  Saying Hunter and Wake are highly accomplished is a bit like saying that Kate Beckinsale and  Madonna are good looking.  It’s true, though with polarizing differences.

 

Still, climbing the list into the company of HOF’ers garners respect. 

 

Imagine baby-faced Justin Masterson or Daniel Bard sharing the same clubhouse with the old goat.   These are two 24-year-olds who, if they eat their veggies, may someday each record half as many K’s as Wakefield.  They are shaving and tossing spades near the lumpy, middle aged guy with a small beer belly – a man who may ultimately climb high on the all time K list.

 

Watching Wake defeat Oakland to go 11-3, my wife remarked how Tim just doesn’t look like the other Sox.  He has a belly.  He has poor posture.  “Why doesn’t he work out like the other players ?”, she puzzled.

 

His physique adds as much to his mystique as his 68 MPH knuckler.

 

He is everyman.  He is the love object of the middle aged fan.  He is…..old and has a tummy.

 

But picture this:  On August 2, 2013, old man Wakefield climbs the mound on his 47th birthday and records career strikeout 2,396. In doing so, he moved past Sandy Koufax.  In the rear view mirror will be Lefty Grove (2,266), Tommy John (2,245), Jim Palmer (2,212), Juan Marichal (2,303), Robin Roberts (2,357), Luis Tiant (2,416), Dennis Eckersley (2,401), Charlie Hough (2,362) & many others.

 

He’ll be  #38 on the list.

 

It may just happen.  He’s a knuckler.  Hoyt Wilhelm pitched until he was 49, Phil Niekro until he was 48 and Charlie Hough until he was 46.

 

Who’d have thought a guy that typically blows up 5 times a year with a 15.00 GAME ERA could climb so high ?

 

And don’t rule out Wakefield eventually passing Drysdale (2,488), Christy Mathewson (2,562), Bob Feller (2,581) and Warren Spahn (2,583). 

 

It is all within his reach.

 

If Wake passes the immortal Mathewson, the Sox might bid out a statue to place on Van Ness Street, down the block from Ted’s.

 

Not bad for a guy who walked 28 batters in three starts for the Bucs in 1993.

 (To review the all time K list, see the link on our home page under the “Historical Ball” category.)

 

+++++++++++.

 

I hope someone has told Dennis Eckersley not to speak aloud about a no-no in progress while on the air.  It is it jarring to the ear and disruptive to the soul.  He has no right to break tradition while 10 Million Sox fans are squeezing their sphincters, silently frozen in their lazy boys trying not to jinx the pitcher.   It’s an egregious mistake.  Otherwise, Eck is a breath of fresh air substituting on NESN for Remy, bringing the gas, the cheese, and kudo’s for his yakker.

 

+++++++++++.

 

Is anyone serious about the Sox acquiring Roy Halladay ?  He’ll command premium young talent.  We’re not going to ship off Lars Anderson and Clay Buchholz to get him.  Shoot, we could have gotten Johan Santana for those guys and we passed.  Theo is committed to maintaining our depth.

 

+++++++++++.

 

Youk looks tired.  Dustin looks tired.  These guys are making me tired.

 

+++++++++++.

 

The BoSox lack of timely hitting again reared its head as we lost 3 of 4 at home to begin the current home stand.  The offense comes and goes.  And yet, they string together winning months.  They are on pace to win 98 games, their most since 2004, when they went 98 – 64.  You have to score runs, but it really is 80% about the pitching — isn’t it ?

 

Wake & friend, 1984, Eau Claire H.S.

Wake & friend, 1984, Eau Claire H.S.

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I hope Tim Wakefield pitches until 2022

Posted by athomeatfenway on March 4, 2009

"Under Rated" is Wake's middle name.

"Under Rated" is Wake's middle name.

Some members of The Nation are already calling for Wakefield’s banishment from the rotation.

 

They have a complaint, simple and unqualified:  HE STINKS.  The charge is based on how badly he performs when he has a poor outing.

 

They have a point.   When Tim is bad, he’s really bad.  It’s hideous.

 

On balance, the good outweighs the bad, 4-to-1.

 

In 2008……….

 

Wake pitched 19 quality starts in 30 total starts.

 

By comparison, Dice-K had 20 quality starts in 29 total.

Lester had 21 quality starts in 33 total. 

Beckett:  18 quality in 27 total.

 

The #5 spot yielded 9 quality starts in 30 totals (Byrd,Buch & Colon.). 

 

Masterson also had 6-Q’s in 9 total.

 

In Wake’s 19 quality starts, his ERA was 1.99.  We lost 8 of those 19 goodies, 3 of them by 1 run.  With 3 big blow outs not counted, the Sox averaged less than 4 runs of scoring in 16 of Wake’s 19 quality starts.

 

In one extended streak of excellence from May 28 to July 12, Wake reeled off 9 consecutive quality starts.  That’s 4 more than any BoSox starter had in a row in ‘08.

 

So, Wake is right up there with Lester, Beckett & Matsuzaka.

 

“Under Rated” is his middle name.

 

But — he also had 5 horrific starts with a 17.54 ERA.  The Sox lost all 5 games by a combined score of 52-24.

 

OK, by comparison Beckett had 6 stinkers.  Lester sucked in 9 starts.  Matsuzaka was poor only twice.

 

5 stinkers isn’t so bad.  What upsets his detractors is a 17.54 ERA in stinkers.  When Wake was quaked, he was significantly worse than the other top starters when they were also poor.  But you have to look beyond that.  Look at the good.  Imagine where we would be without those 19 goodies.

 

Ed Cicotte may or may not have once said about the knuckleball, “You can’t make it do what it don’t want to do.”

 

This applies to Wake, also. When he doesn’t have it, he just doesn’t have it.   So let’s move on.

 

Wake’s poor outings should not obscure the fact that he is as solid as the Sox best starters, and sensational in longer stretches than the others.

 

I hope he pitches until he’s 55 years old.  I’ll take the good with the bad.

 

Wake is expected to register his 2,000 career strikeout this year.  It should happen around August 10, when the Tigers visit the Nation.

 

Let’s sell that one out, Soxaholics.

 

Wake:  He’s havin’ a career

 

W 178 – 157 L

4.32 ERA

400 career starts

141 career relief appearances

362 HR’s

1907 K’s

2699 Hits

2802 IP

1992: Sir Mix A-Lot & Right Said Fred singing somewhere

1992: Sir Mix A-Lot & Right Said Fred singing somewhere

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Michael Bowden impresses with Win #1

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 31, 2008

Aug. 30, 2008

Fenway Park

 

All of this on Ted Williams’ birthday.

 

 

Michael Bowden took the mound today for his first MLB start backed by a makeshift Sox line-up featuring the “strongest 160-pound man in Baseball” batting cleanup.

 

Ellsbury (CF), Lowrie (3rd), Ortiz (DH), Pedroia (2nd), Kotsay (RF), Bay (LF), Tek (C), Bailey (1b) and Cora (ss).

 

Pedroia would reach safely for the 10th AB in a row and hear the MVP chant. 

 

 

Bowden did not have it easy.

 

He faced a ChiSox starting 9 that already poled 185 HR this year. 

 

The 3-4-5 hitters, Quentin, Dye and Thome, have 96 HR between them. 

 

Add to that the sensational rookie Alexei Ramirez (.310/15/60), a still potent 38-yr-old Junior Griffey, and a few other clutch performers, and this was no team of pushovers facing Mr. Bowden.

 

Bowden was as advertised in terms of a powerful, condensed pitching motion.  After walking Cabrera on 5 pitches to start the game, he fired four 92 MPH fastballs to Pierzynski, inducing a 1-3 double play.  5 fastballs later, he grounded Quentin out to third to record his first MLB inning, facing the minimum 3 batters.

 

Bowden would put up only 5 innings this night.   He wouldn’t go unmolested.  But he limited the damage, showing great character and composure in tight spots.

 

In the second, he worked his fastball and a 77 mph cutter to get 2 strikes on Jermaine Dye, but with the crowd calling for the rookie’s first MLB strikeout, Dye smashed the ball 390 ft. to the Garage Door area in dead center.  It had HR distance but hit the CF wall 10 ft below the fans in Bleacher 36.  Two batters later, Bowden gave up his first run in the majors when Alexei Ramirez stroked a 2-2 fastball on a line before Bay in left and turned on the speed to register a double and an RBI.

 

With the crowd still waiting for his first K, Mr. Bowden then fed Nick Swisher a fastball and three 78 mph Cutters, striking Swisher out on a cutter in the dirt.   Swisher, a very good player, looked like a bad one.

 

The 2nd inning damage was 1 run.  Ramirez was stranded on second.  Bowden kept his cool.

 

Bowden gave up one more run this day.  That run almost never scored because Joe Crede, the runner, almost produced an out instead of a triple.  Crede led off the 3rd by smacking the 8th pitch Bowden hurled 379 ft to the base of the left center wall. There, Ellsbury caught up with it, and on the ball’s descent, tipped the fly up not once but twice before it fell for a triple.  He stuck his glove out at the end and just missed it.  Not an easy catch potentially.  A great try by the centerfielder.

 

Crede, who could have been out, trotted in two batters later on Pierzynski’s ground out to Pedroia.  1 run.

 

Bowden fired fastball after fastball over the course of his outing.  He threw about 60 fastballs out of 89 total pitches. 

 

Power Against Power

 

Bowden disarmed Carlos Quentin, holding the MVP candidate to personal O-for-three before leaving. 

 

Bowden displayed his intangibles in the fifth.  After yielding two singles to Cabrera and Pierzynski, and with Dye on deck, he fed the power hitting Quentin four 92 mph fastballs, two of them partially over the plate, two of them not. 

 

On the second pitch, with a 1-0 count, two ducks on the pond, Bowden was not afraid to pound another fastball in letter high to the White Sox slugger.

 

Power against power. 

 

Quentin couldn’t catch up to it. 

 

Bowden did not get Quentin to chase the pitches out of the zone, but he did make him fly out to Bay on the last pitch.   Then he stranded two ChiSox when the slugger Dye flew out to Bay on a ball with HR height to the track.

 

Bowden never looked to be in serious trouble.  He surely put runners on base, yielding 4 hits in the 4th and the 5th, but no one scored.

 

He was aided by one double play, initiated by him self in the first.

 

 

More than a fastball

 

At the end of the day, Bowden had a fine first outing.  His fastball, 5 or 6 mph slower than Manny Delcarmen’s or Josh Beckett’s, had the movement needed to stay away from the heart of the plate and give the White Sox batters conniptions.  Although heavy on the heater, Bowden mixed in an effective Cutter (77 mph), Curve (78 mph), and a Change (85 mph).  He really made Swisher look bad with the curve in particular.

 

Licking His Chops

 

Young Alexei Ramirez stood on deck while Griffey made the last out in the 9th.   He was asked what he thought of the kid who started tonight.  Alexei smiled sweetly at the questioner in the second row.  He looked like a cat licking its whiskers after biting the mouse on it’s hind quarter, but somehow letting it get away.  He smirked, but said nothing.

 

Bowden gets an A+ for cool.  He gets an A+ for getting ahead in the count.  He gets an A for controlling the rythym of his outing.    

 

He gets a B- for overall performance though, unable to keep the able ChiSox batters off the bases. 

 

We’ll someday see how he does against the Ginger and Mary Anne’s in Baltimore, Kansas City and Seattle.  

 

Ellsbury, Pedroia & Kotsay win it 8-2

 

Mr. Bowden owes thanks to the self-acknowledged “Strongest 160 pound Man in Baseball”, and a few other mates, for notching his first MLB victory on Ted Williams’  90th birthday, by a score of 8 – 2.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Charlie Zink, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis, Manny Ramirez, Matsuzaka, Michael Bowden, Mike Lowell, NESN, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield, Uncategorized, Youkilis | Leave a Comment »

FOR THE RECORD

Posted by athomeatfenway on August 4, 2008

 

Fri., July 25    Joba outduels Beckett  1-0

 

Sat. July 26    Wake’s first bad outing since May 18, Yanks win 10-3

 

Sun. July 27   Lester cruises over Ponson, 9-2.

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Fred Lynn, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jim Rice, JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, NEW YORK YANKEES, RED SOX, Ted Williams, Terry Francona, Tim Wakefield | Leave a Comment »

Red Sox Ace: Tim Wakefield at the all star break

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 13, 2008

There has been much debate about which Red Sox starter is the Ace in Beantown:  Wakefield, Beckett, Lester or Matsuzaka.

 

UM….I guess Wakfefield doesn’t fit into the discussion too much.  That 68 mph flutter ball and his advancing age does NOT get much love.

 

Well…….. 

 

The “Ace” is an imaginary designation which doesn’t mean much beyond bestowing extra praise and pressure on a player.

 

But for the fun of it, I’ll take a shot at it.

 

Let’s start by looking at the starting staff overall – and then focusing on just the four guys who have made 71 of the team’s 96 starts.

 

The team ERA for all Sox starting pitchers is a combined 3.77 before the man from Tokyo makes the Sox’s last pre-All Star break start today.

 

3.77 ? 

 

Soxaholics, let us not ever, ever complain about our starters this year.    Heck, we’ve had stretches of the inverted — 7.33.

 

Our motto used to be, “We’re good, we’ve got enough pitching.”.  

The Yankees motto was, “You can never have enough pitching.”.

 

Wow.

 

Our world is upside down.  Cats sleeping with dogs.  Hank Steinbrenner admitting he’s brash.  The Rays and Cubs in first place.

 

The Sox are just one small step from pitching dominance akin the Orioles of the late sixties-early seventies.

 

Dear God, grant us one decent middle reliever, load him up with a nasty sinker, a change and a slider, and make his name Justin Masterson.

 

This season is making me dizzy.

 

But  — back to the question at hand — who is the Ace ?

 

Wakefield’s made 19 starts, 13 quality starts, with a 3.60 ERA.  Team 9W-10L.

 

Beckett’s made 17 starts, 11 quality starts, with a 3.93 ERA.  Team 10W-7L.

 

Lester’s made 20 starts, 11 quality start, with a 3.38 ERA. Team 13W-7L.

 

Matsuzaka’s made 15 starts, 10 quality starts, with a 2.84 ERA. Team 12W-3L.

 

I go by quality starts, i.e., a start in which the pitcher goes 5 to 7 innings, hangs up a game ERA that is below 4.00, and thus gives his team a good chance to win.

 

Immediately, Tim Wakefield becomes the default Ace.  He’s got the most quality starts, a very respectable ERA, and you can throw out the team 9W-10L record when he starts because wins and losses do not reflect the quality of pitching.  W’s and L’s are all about the team performance.

 

Besides, if we went by wins and losses only, we’d have to evaluate who Julio Lugo has screwed more with his poor fielding.  The guy has almost as many errors as he does RBI.

 

And, if we were going by W’s, Matsuzaka walks away as the Ace by virtue of his 12W-3L team record.  The team just consistently outscores the competition when Matsuzaka is walking the tightrope, getting out of jam after jam.

 

Run support per start is very close among these 4 guys — Matsuzaka at 5.33 Runs per start, Beckett at 5.82,  Lester 5.1,  and Wake 5.2.

 

And that closeness in average run support is matched by closeness in percent-of-quality starts among Wake, Beckett and Dice Kay.  (Range:  65% to 68% quality.)

 

 

Translation:  You get about the same chance of a quality start whether it is Wake, Beckett or Matsuzaka who starts. 

 

So, there is no real Ace.   

 

My hair-splitting & inconsequential vote at the break for Sox Ace thus goes to the 41 year old (turns 42 on Aug. 2) senior citizen of the staff.   He’s the most boring starter, throwing the 68 mph knuckler 85% of the time, mixing it w an 80 mph slow, uh, I mean, fastball.  He gets my vote by virtue of having accumulated 2 more quality starts than anyone else.

 

Had Matsuzaka not missed 4 starts he may have eclipsed Wake in quality starts. 

 

In the long run, this Race to Be Ace may turn out in Matsuzaka’s favor.  It’s a long season and we’re only 59.8% done.

 

Then again, Dice Kay’s high pitch counts could produce a fatigued arm by Labor day.

 

What do you think ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in BASEBALL, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Matsuzaka, RED SOX, Tim Wakefield | Leave a Comment »