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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.
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.
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.