With the Red Sox and Yankees renewing their rivalry in spring training this past weekend, it led to former Boston pitcher Tim Wakefield stepping on to a field with current Yankees manager Aaron Boone. The two players were major parts of the peak of the rivalry in the early 2000s. Wakefield earned that reputation role as a fixture for the Sox from 1995 to 2011. Boone got there because he hit one home run. If you are a Sox fan, you know what I’m talking about.
While the immediate impact of that home run was devastating, as it ended Boston’s chances at a World Series appearance in 2003, it has had a more lasting negative impact as well. It is easily the highlight of Boone’s career but it is also probably the most recognizable video snippet of Wakefield’s.
That’s simply not fair.
Wakefield was rarely a lights out hurler, earning just one All Star nod in his 19 year career but he was a pitcher who provided longevity and an arm for every situation. He was a starter, reliever, closer and everything in between. During his 17 years with the Red Sox, he ate up 3,006 innings and was a slightly above average pitcher (106 OPS+) through most of that. He also won 186 games, which is third in franchise history to only Roger Clemens and Cy Young. That means there were certainly high points, like when he came in third in Cy Young voting in his first year with Boston (1995) or when he went 11-5 with a 2.81 ERA as a mutli-faceted pitcher who started, relieved and even saved three games in 2002.
In other years, the fickle nature of the knuckleball hurt him, but for nearly two decades, he was the consummate teammate and constantly positive clubhouse presence. In his first year with the Sox he played with guys like Mo Vaughn, Mike Greenwell and Troy O’Leary. In his final year, Jon Lester, Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz were on the roster. He saw the Red Sox go from lovable losers to champions to perennial contenders and was just out there throwing knucklers for all of it. So even if most people think of that one home run from the 2003 ALCS when they think of Tim Wakefield, let’s not be those people.
It doesn’t matter what type of parameters you put on the game, Chris Sale is going to pitch and pitch well. (Michael Silverman; Boston Herald)
Let’s take a moment to remember that spring training stats are not a fool-proof indication of performance in the upcoming season. Case and point: Mookie Betts is 0-for-14 so far. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)
Jalen Beeks is projected as an important part of the Red Sox’s rotation in the future. That future may come sooner rather than later. (Peter Abraham; Boston Globe)
As a Red Sox fan that grew up in upstate New York, I can commiserate with Williams Jerez’s loyalty to Boston while being surrounded by Yankee fans. (Christopher Smith; MassLive)
Speaking of that rivalry, here’s how the two teams stack up in terms of pitching. (Matthew Kory; Boston BP)