Miles From Fenway

Number 49
April 19, 2005, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Boston, Red Sox, sports

In an age of free agents, inflated salaries, and over-inflated egos, it is hard to find professional athletes who are more dedicated to their teams than they are to their paychecks. As a fan you come to think of player trades as part of the game. When Pedro Martinez signed with the Mets, I knew it was time for him to go. When Lowe went to the Dodgers we smiled and wished him well. The list could go on and on. If a player can get more money somewhere else, they usually do. Players rarely stay with a team for long these days.

I can think of a few off the top of my head, I guess. Players who have been with their teams for so long it would be hard to imagine them in other uniforms: Jeter with the Yanks, Chipper Jones with the Braves, John Smoltz with the Braves, Jason Varitek with the Sox. And then there’s my guy. My favorite baseball player. My favorite Red Sox. Tim Wakefield.

Wakefield signed with the Sox in 1995. A knuckleball pitcher he has served as everything from a starter, to middle relief, to closer. He’s become entrenched in the Boston community, giving both time and money to charitable organizations. And he’s been there for his team when they needed him, giving up his start in the ALCS this past year to save the bullpen for a last ditch effort to beat the Yankees the next night. This season was the last on his contract.

Until today.

The Red Sox signed Wake to a contract that will, for all intents and purposes, keep him a member of the Sox until the day he decides to retire. And I literally could not be happier. I was 15 when he first came to the organization, and I wouldn’t have been able to bear him leaving. This is a good deal for both sides. Though Wake is in his late 30s, as a knuckleball pitcher his body, specifically his elbow and shoulder, do not go through as much wear and tear as a fastball pitchers would, enabling many knucklers to pitch much longer than your typical starter. Wakefield also has the ability to eat up innings when necessary. And bringing in someone to relieve him can screw up an opponent as much as the knuckleball would. Once you’ve had two at-bats against a guy throwing a 60mph ball that dances like a butterfly, facing a guy who’s throwing a 90mph fastball isn’t going to do you any good. Oh and have I mentioned that the man is off to an amazing start this year?

It’s also a good deal for the Sox. I haven’t seen the actual structure of the agreement, but you’ve got to think that if Wake went onto the free market he would have been able to get at least a little bit of an upgrade from his current salary.

It’s also good for the fans. Good for us to see that greed isn’t all that play into it. That a player can genuinely care about who he’s playing for. And that the management can care right back.

Plus now I know that Wakefield jersey I’ve been saving up for won’t be useless by next season 🙂


2 Comments so far
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I was so pumped to hear about this. Wake is the man and could not be more dedicated to this organization. I was also pumped last year when Trot took a hometown discount to stay here. That kind of selflessness and loyalty is almost unheard of.


Comment by Macca

This group of players seems to breed a lot of loyalty. Ortiz could have gotten a much better deal if he’d waited until the end of the season to test the Free Agent waters, but chose instead to sign early on. It’s tough not to love a group of guys like that.

Thanks for the comment!

Comment by FINY

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