Report: Decision time near for Wakefield


Report: Decision time near for Wakefield

Tim Wakefield, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, will decide this weekend a) whether or not he wants to continue playing, and if he does, b) where he'll play.

My take: The answer to a) is "Of course he does". And I believe b) should actually be worded this way: Do I go somewhere else if the Red Sox don't want me, or do I retire?

Clearly, the Red Sox don't want him; if they did, they'd have signed him by now. (There was talk early in the offseason that they were looking at Wakefield as a fallback option if they failed to acquire another starter, but they haven't brought in anybody -- except a bunch of low-percentage longshots -- and Wakefield's still unsigned.) That being the case . . . what now?

Wakefield's agent, Barry Meister, told Lauber that the 45-year-old knuckleballer "has some options", and we'll set aside our natural cynicism to believe that he's telling the truth. (Quick aside: Wouldn't you just love to hear some agent someday say, "Nobody wants my guy"?) I have to believe they're non-roster invitations to spring training. Wakefield obviously thinks he can still pitch -- all 2011 evidence to the contrary -- and if someone had offered him a contract, I believe he'd have signed it.

So does he accept the invitation? Or does he retire as a Red Sox?

It's a tough call. Like I said the other day, most ballplayers keep playing until no one wants them anymore. I won't think any less of Wakefield if he tries to hook on somewhere else.

But we're talking about a guy who's 45, who's only had two ERAs under 4.58 since 2003, and whose ERA has been in the 5.00s in each of the last two seasons. That painful march to career victory number 200 -- it took him eight tries, and the Red Sox finally had to score 18 runs for him to do it -- was as stark a piece of evidence as there could possibly be that if he's not at the finish line, he's about to trip over it. (Incidentally, he pitched 9 innings in two games after winning his 200th . . . and gave up 11 runs.) To me, there's a dignity issue at play.

Personally, I'd hang 'em up. If he does, the same Red Sox who are treating him as if he has a communicable disease these days would not only welcome him back into the family, they'd embrace him. The "Welcome Back and Welcome Always" signs would flash forever. But, of course, that'll happen -- eventually -- even if he goes to camp with St. Louis or Colorado or whoever.

In any case, it appears we'll get our answer soon enough.

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?