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Why Wakefield Closing in on Red Sox All-Time Wins Record Isn’t Good

Photo Courtesy of Eric Shelton, AP, usatoday.com

At the start of every Red Sox season there are at least two things you can expect: unnecessary additions to Fenway Park and Tim Wakefield. The 45-year-old knuckleballer has been on the Boston Red Sox since 1995, has made over 350 starts for Boston and is on the verge of reaping the rewards of consistency. As many Red Sox fans may know, Wakefield is currently in the running for the franchise record for most wins by a pitcher, 192, which is shared by both Cy Young and Roger Clemens.

“Wake” most likely will pass Clemens and Young as the Red Sox all-time wins leader. As of this writing Wakefield is currently in the Red Sox starting rotation due to injuries sustained by Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka. The 45-year-old currently has 184 wins as a Boston Red Sox, eight  wins away from tying the record. It seems like he will be in the starting rotation for the rest of the season. Plus, he has the powerful Red Sox batting order behind him. This certainly puts him in great position to reach this milestone.

Wakefield Hurting Young & Clemens’ Legacies?

At the start of this season, when I first realized that this was looming, I was fearful. I didn’t like the idea of Tim Wakefield, the guy who throws batting practice fastballs, knocking off Young and Clemens. Sure, Clemens is caught up in legal woes, Cy Young is the ghost of a bygone era and I really shouldn’t have any reason to want to have their accolades protected.

But, I don’t like the idea of “Wake” being compared to both Clemens and Young in any way, shape or form. It should be noted, that this record will be set because of nearly 20 years of consistency and not because of outright domination. It took Clemens 13 seasons to reach the mark and it only took Young a remarkably low 8 seasons as a Boston Red Sox to set the record. Both of these men were transcendent during their time playing for Boston. Tim Wakefield was never (and still isn’t) a dominate pitcher. And when I think of Tim Wakefield, sorry Boston, but these adjectives do not come to my mind at all. I don’t think of Wakefield as the “all-time winner” in any category and I certainly don’t picture him as the top winningest pitcher in the Red Sox franchise. I want my winners to be ruthless, charismatic and almost supernatural. Wake is too normal, average and (dare I say it) too “human.” Yes, I’m not really looking forward to Wakefield breaking this record. It’s a tough one to fathom, but when it does eventually happen, I may just have to get used to.

“Wake,” a Longtime Fan Favorite.

Tim Wakefield has been on the team long enough that many younger fans feel they have a sentimental bond with the pitcher. Many fans in the city have grown to admire the pitcher for his many respectable qualities. And it is true that the man himself does have a lot of good qualities. He’s a charitable person (being nominated multiple times for the Roberto Clemente award for his community service work and winning the honor once in 2010), he’s a consummate professional and does what’s asked of him, never complaining about his various roles throughout a season. It’s those qualities as a person that will certainly help me (begrudgingly, however) get used to his place in history.

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Discussion

8 comments for “Why Wakefield Closing in on Red Sox All-Time Wins Record Isn’t Good”

  1. How can you hate on a guy who is an actual “pitcher.” When a guy who throws as hard as I do can win, I think it should definitely be commended. He’s won with a little league fastball in an era where everything left the park screaming. Go get em’ Tim.

    Posted by Brian Moller | July 18, 2011, 10:43 pm
  2. What you do, as many others do, is mistakenly equate power or speed with dominance. I suppose if you’re dumb enough to think the only thing that matters in a pitcher is putting up 99mph fastballs you would underestimate Wakefield’s skill. That’s typical of most folks viewing of knucklers — vastly underrated because they’re not flashy.
    Fortunately, in baseball at least, results matter, and the numbers don’t lie — at his best, Wakefield has been just as (if not moreso) effective as the so-called “Rocket”, just in a different way.

    Sure, people get excited about touchdowns more than field goals, about the home run hitters more than the guys who consistently hit clutch singles and doubles, and about the loud & flashy more than the stolid and workmanlike.

    But the numbers don’t lie. Wake’s been a very, very good player for a very, very long time (in baseball years). Had he not been relagated to the bullpen for many years, he’d have passed the other two a long time ago. He absolutely deserves recognition, particularly since he managed to accomplish what he has in a system where the deck is stacked against him.

    Just because Young and Clemens were great in their own way, doesn’t diminish how amazing Wakefield is. Just because you like vanilla doesn’t mean chocolate isn’t a good flavour too.

    Posted by Don M | July 24, 2011, 4:52 pm
  3. quite possibly the stupidest post ever about the Red Sox…Clemens had nothing but contempt for the fans and said “I” in every sentence and tried to seduce a freaking teenager at 28…Wakefield not as dominant as the Rocket?…wow, brilliant analysis…it counts being a decent person, and I can not wait untill we get that stain off the record book…I live in CO now, but worked at Fenway for a couple of years in the 70s, and have a 5 year old who loves the Sox…if he wishes to emulate Wake, I would be a proud dad

    Posted by Mike F | July 24, 2011, 5:10 pm
  4. I can see your point, Wakefield has never been as dominant as Clemens or Young as you can see in both his era and his longevity compared to the other two.

    However, I think it is a testament to Wakefield that he has lasted so long in a league dominated by power, with a finesse pitch. Also I personally would rather have Wakefield representing the Red Sox than Clemens: he has been loyal to the team and fans, and he has always done whatever the team has asked of him, from starting to long relief to even closer.

    Posted by zach | July 24, 2011, 10:09 pm
  5. “It should be noted, that this record will be set because of nearly 20 years of consistency and not because of outright domination. It took Clemens 13 seasons to reach the mark and it only took Young a remarkably low 8 seasons as a Boston Red Sox to set the record.”

    How long did it take Cal Ripken to win the Iron Man record? He did it a lot faster than Lou Gehrig, since there were more games each season. The record still stands.

    So what if it’s taken him longer, the man has stayed in the game to achieve this record and should receive the appropriate adulation.

    “Tim Wakefield was never (and still isn’t) a dominate pitcher.”

    Depends on what day you see him pitch – there have been many days when he has been unhittable. I remember comparisons between him, Schilling and Pedro in 2004, and there was a strong argument that he was the best pitcher in the rotation.

    Posted by Michael Haggerty | July 25, 2011, 9:28 am
  6. It’s not like he’s being inducted into the hall of fame. He is simply making a new mark in the franchise. And although he may not have been as dominant at the others, what’s wrong with a player who has done so much for the organization in terms of charity, reliability, and character, getting at least one accolade that recognizes him for the efforts on the field. So it took him a long time, he has still been an integral part of everything the Sox have done for years, win or lose. You will have 192 reasons to be thankful we had him!

    Posted by ayerbag | July 25, 2011, 10:44 am
  7. This story has been nominated for my “Dumbest Sports Story of the Year” award.

    Posted by Jack | July 27, 2011, 11:06 am
  8. perfect. thanks Jack

    Posted by Mike F | July 28, 2011, 9:52 pm

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