By Rich Levine
On Sunday, Tim Wakefield threw eight strong innings in the Red Sox 12-3 win over Milwaukee.
On Monday, we peeled off a number in the slowest countdown in baseball history:
Wakefields pursuit of the Sox all-time wins mark.
I think it officially began in the summer of 2009.
At the time, Wake was 11-3 and fresh off one of the best stretches of his career. He was 42, but also a first-time All-Star and only getting better.
It was about that time he also started to leave his mark on the franchise record books. On July 3, he broke Roger Clemens' record for starts in a career and, in the process, woke everyone up to the realities of Wake's marathon tenure with the team. He suddenly sat on top, or near the top of every major statistical category. Most notably: Wins.
At the 2009 All-Star break, Wake had 175 wins 17 behind Clemens and Cy Young (who were tied at 192). And while 193 wasnt automatic, it was certainly possible. For a knuckleballer, Wake was still a kid.
It was entirely plausible that Tim Wakefield would retire as the winningest pitcher in Red Sox history.
But then he got hurt.
After the stellar first half in 2009, Wakefield missed six weeks because of a sore back and didnt win another game for the rest of the season. His resurgence was busted. In the meantime, the race to 193 moved slower than Wakefield himself. It was the equivalent of a Dice-K start. It took a lot of time to go absolutely nowhere, and everyone was ready to give up.
And now, in the midst of yet another resurgence . . .
Sundays win was Wakes 183rd with the Sox, leaving him 10 away from the record. And in most cases, that probably cause to throw some champagne on ice. In most cases, youd see a guy 10 wins away from a major achievement and feel at least slightly optimistic about his chances.
And with Wake, I guess there's a chance.
The injury to Dice-K creates more opportunities. And with Buchholz hurting and Lackey no sure thing to stay healthy, Wakefield could get more starts than we ever imagined. And what if the Sox wrap things up early entirely possible and want to give their starters some rest? Yup, more starts. And you cant disregard the fact that, with this line-up, most every one of Wakefields starts will be accompanied by ridiculous run support. That helps the cause!
You know, now that I think about it, maybe he ca
No. I cant do it. He cant do it.
He only needs 10 wins? Well, Sunday marked only Wakes 10th win since June of 2009. Thats two years. He might not have another two months. You really think hes got 10 more wins in him?
No, probably not.
But you know what? Im okay with that.
I mean, of course it would be nice to see him do it. First of all, because I know he wants to. I think that whenever Wake walks away from the game hell do so proudly, but if he can do so with his name sitting above Clemens and Young in such a prestigious category, for one of the most storied franchises in baseball? That's really special.
Not to mention, it would be great to see a real member of the Sox holding down the fort on top of the all-time wins list.
Clemens is a jerk. You dont want to celebrate him. And Cy Young isnt even real. I cant knock his skills, but that eras so far removed from todays game that its not even worth comparing. I'm sorry, but any pitcher who threw more than 40 complete games in a season should have their own record book. It's a different world.
It would be cool to have someone in there who fans don't detest, and also someone they can relate to. And Wakefield fits that bill.
But when you think of Tim Wakefield, do you really think he's the greatest winner in Red Sox history? Do you really want to? For all that he is, and as great as he's been for so long, is Tim Wakefield really that guy? Does he really deserve that distinction? Does that best fit what he's meant to this team over the last 17 years?
I don't think so. So while I won't be upset if he gets there, there will be no injustice if he comes up short.
In the meantime, I'll just enjoy any and all wins he's has left.
Regardless of the final number, a few more like Sunday will be more than enough.