It has been to the consternation of many an obtuse Red Sox fan why Tim Wakefield is still a member of the Red Sox organization, beginning what will be his sixteenth season with Ye Olde Towne Team. But a rather innocuous post by Nick Cafardo over at the Extra Bases blog has revealed the sinister truth.
Tim Wakefield's fountain of youth? Voodoo magic.As (almost) everyone should know, our favorite knuckleballer was acquired by the Red Sox after a short but tenuous stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His first year was remarkably successful, and he managed to earn NL Rookie Pitcher of the Year honors from the Sporting News, and helped the Pirates make it to the NLCS, where he pitched two complete games, beating Tom Glavine both times. Only Stan Belinda stood between Tim Wakefield and a championship series MVP award in 1992. (Tragically, eleven years later, Pedro Martinez and Grady Little would conspire to rob him of yet another championship series MVP.)
Unfortunately for Wakefield, he couldn't get things figured out at the start of the 1993 season, and got demoted back down to the minor leagues. Even worse for the Pirates, that 1992 playoff campaign was not only the last time they made it to the NLCS, but was the last time that they even had a winning record.
The implications of this are obvious: our beloved Tim Wakefield has clearly put a curse on the Pirates:
So what happens first, the Pittsburgh Pirates get to .500 or Tim Wakefield gets to 200 wins?
The reason we ask is Wakefield played for the last Pirate team in 1992 that finished .500. Both 200 wins and breaking the all-time Red Sox record of 192 wins shared by Cy Young and Roger Clemens, means a lot to Wakefield who has a two-year contract which could enable him to reach both marks.
How else can you possibly explain seventeen straight losing seasons? It has to be a hex. No other rational explanation exists.
The blatant ramifications of this are simple--Theo Epstein and Terry Francona realize that they have no choice but to keep Tim Wakefield around as long as he wants to keep pitching. The start of a new curse would utterly destroy Red Sox Nation, so Theo and Tito realize that making sure Timmeh stays happy is worth the investment. (Being a benevolent extortionist, Timmeh has not asked for exorbitant salary compensation; just enough to make sure he has plenty to give away to charity and keep his family comfortable.)
But for those members of RSN jonesing for the day that Theo, Tito, and company give Wakefield the boot, the message is clear: it's not happening. Wakefield is the only one who gets to call when Wakefield hangs up his glove.