Nation STATion: The Wakefield 44

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Nation STATion: The Wakefield 44

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

I could have written about John Lackey this morning but I figured the Nation was in enough distress because of the Celtics, so I decided that would create a really bad funk. So today, instead of looking at the glass below .500, I decided to celebrate Tim Wakefield.

Last night, Tim became the oldest person ever to play for the Red Sox. Wakefield is now 44 years and 282 days old, two days older than Deacon McGuire, when he last played on Aug. 24, 1908.

McGuire was a catcher and a first baseman who went 3-for-4 for Boston in 1907 and then 0-for-1 in his last appearance for Boston in 1908. McGuire subsequently played one game for Cleveland in 1980 and 19190 and made his final appearance with Detroit in 1912 on May 18, 1912, going 1-for-2.

Here are some Old Sox:

Here are the "senior" pitchers:

As I hope you know, Wake is more than a knuckleball pitcher who has lasted a long time, he is truly one of the class acts in the game. Last year, Tim became the first Red Sox winner of the Roberto Clemente Award which is given annually to the player who "combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field."

Wakefield recently said he said no plans to retire, and will play until they tell me I stink or they dont want me anymore. But I havent given it any thought." Thats good news because as long as the Sox have Lackey and Dice-K in the rotation, the versatility of Tim Wakefield will always be appreciated.

Heres the Wakefield 44:

1. Wake is number one No active pitcher has as many wins as Tim does. He has 193 in his career, 179 with the Sox. He has won 19 more games than Roy Halladay whos number two.

2. Wake is number one No active pitcher has as many losses as Tim does. He has 173 in his career, 161 with the Sox. He has lost 6 more games than Livan Hernandez whos number two.

3. Wake is number three Only Roger Clemens and Cy Young have more Red Sox wins. They each have 192.

4. Wake has 22 career saves to go with his 193 wins. Curt Schilling also had 22 saves (216 wins) and Bob Lemon had 22 saves (207 wins).

5. Wake is currently tied with Wes Ferrell, Curt Simmons and Hall of Famer Rube Waddell for 131st on the all-time wins list. Wakes next win ties him all-time with Doyle Alexander, David Cone, and Dwight Gooden amongst others.

6. Wake is number one No Red Sox pitcher has started as many games as Tim Wakefield. With 409 starts, he leads Roger Clemens by 27. Josh Beckett is 26th on the all-time list with 150 starts.

7. Wake is number one - Bob Uecker is famous for having said, "The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and then pick it up." No active pitcher has more than Wakes 119 wild pitches. Some of the other pitchers who have tossed 119 wild ones are Tony Cloninger, Dave Stewart, Frank Tanana, and Fernando Valenzuela and none them had a knuckler for an excuse.

8. Wake is number two - Only the Steamer, Bob Stanley, has pitched in more Sox games than Tim Wakefield. Jonathan Papelbon is the only other active member of the Sox on this list and he is moving up quickly.

9. All told, Wake has appeared in 604 games placing him 181st all-time and 14th among active pitchers.

10. The beginning - Tim made his major league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 31, 1992. He was the starting pitcher and pitched a complete game allowing six hits, walked five, struck out 10 and gave up two unearned runs as he and the Bucs picked up a 3-2 victory.

11. He struck out Luis Alicea three times in that game. Alicea was the Sox second baseman in 1995, Tims first year with Boston.

12. That was the first of five games that Wake has struck out 10 or more batters in his career. His high has been 12 Ks in a 1-0 complete game loss to the Yankees.

13. Tim is 183-159 as a starter in his career with a 4.45 ERA. As a reliever hes 10-14 with a 3.79 ERA.

14. All-time, Wakefield is 11-17 against the Yankees with a 4.90 ERA. He has appeared in 56 regular season games against them, more than any other team. He has appeared against the Jays in 55 games.

15. Wake also has beaten the Royals and Athletics 11 times.

16. His most wins are against the Tampa Bay Rays. He holds a 21-6 record against them with a 3.78 ERA; his best ERA against any AL team.

17. His most losses are against the Yankees and the Texas Rangers against whom he 10-17 with a 6.36 ERA. Thats his worse ERA against any team.

18. Hes only faced the Pirates and Astros once each in his career.

19. Wake has faced Derek Jeter 127 times, more than any other batter. The Yankee captain is 33-for-119, a .277 batting average with three homers and 11 RBI.

20. A-Rod and Frank Thomas have each taken him deep seven times.

21. Wakefield has allowed 397 homers, the most among active pitchers.

22. In 2005, he surrendered 35 gophers to lead the league.

23. But Rodriguez and Jason Giambi have struck out against him 21 times.

24. Nelson Cruz, of the Rangers, is 6-for-6 against Tim.

25. Cruz has also hit the only regular season walkoff homer against Tim.

26. Adrian Beltre, of the Rangers, is 0-for 17 against him.

27. The great DH Edgar Martinez was 1-for-19 with 12 walks against Tim.

28. Yankee manager Joe Girardi was 0-for-10 against the knuckleballer.

29. Wake has hit 178 batters, lightly plunking Shannon Stewart six times.

30. In 1997, he led the AL with 16 HBPs.

31. 1997 was also the year he led the league with 15 losses (his high).

32. In 1998 and 2007, he had 17 wins each year, his season high.

33. No active pitcher has issued more than the 1166 walks that Tim has handed out. He ranks 59th all-time.

34. Jason Giambi has walked 19 times against Wake, the most for each of them.

35. Wake has struck out Giambi 21 times more than any other batter (thats the most for him against a pitcher as well).

36. Vladimir Guerrero is not an easy man to walk, which is why Tim has issued him five intentionals.

37. Batters have hit .254 off Tim in his career; .253 this season.

38. Batters have hit .252 off Tim in his career with runners in scoring position; .233 RISP w2 outs.

39. Nobody has tripled off of Wake more than Carl Crawford whos done it thrice.

40. Wake has been named to one All-Star team; that was in 2009. He didnt appear in the game won by the AL with Jonathan Papelbon and saved by Mariano Rivera.

41. Tim has appeared in 11 postseason series over the course of nine years.

42. Wake is 0-4 in the ALDS, 3-3 in the ALCS, 2-0 in the NLCS, 0-0 in the World Series and overall in the postseason is 5-7 with a 6.75 ERA.

43. Tim has faced a dozen Hall of Famers in his career:

44. Delicious factoid (so yummy I gain weight thinking about it): Tim is the last active player to have appeared in a postseason game for the Pirates.

Congratulations Tim on your endurance, and thank you for all the great dedication to the game.

Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

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Ramirez, Leon homer, Red Sox beat Angels 9-4 on Papi's night

BOSTON - David Ortiz became one of the most celebrated players in Red Sox history during his storied 14-year run in Boston.

On the night he returned to Fenway to have his No. 34 take its place among the franchise's other legends, his former teammates did their part to make sure it was a memorable one.

Hanley Ramirez and Sandy Leon hit two-run homers and the Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Friday to cap a night in which Ortiz's number became the latest retired at Fenway Park.

It was the 250th career home run for Ramirez, a good friend of Ortiz who was also born in the Dominican Republic. Leon finished with three hits and four RBIs.

Ramirez said he played with Ortiz on his mind.

"He's my mentor, my big brother. He's everything," Ramirez said. "Today when I saw him on the field crying, it made me cry."

He said his home run was in Big Papi's honor.

"Definitely, definitely, definitely," he said. "I was going to do his thing (pointing his hands in the air) but I forgot."

The homers helped provide a nice cushion for Rick Porcello (4-9), who gave up four runs and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings to earn the victory. It was the 13th straight start Porcello has gone at least six innings.

"It was vintage Porcello," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "A couple of pitches that cut his night short, but he was crisp throughout."

This could serve as a needed confidence boost for Porcello, who had been 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA in his previous five starts, allowing 47 hits and 27 earned runs.

He had command of his pitches early, holding the Angels scoreless until the fourth, when a catching error by Leon at home allowed Albert Pujols to cross the plate.

Porcello said he isn't sure if he has completely turned a corner yet after his slow start, but he has felt better in his recent starts.

"Today was a step in the right direction," he said.

Alex Meyer (3-4) allowed five runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles scored three runs in the seventh, but cooled off after Porcello left.

Boston got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, scoring on an RBI double by Xander Bogaerts and then getting two more runs off wild pitches by Meyer.

Ramirez gave Porcello a 5-1 lead in the fourth with his two-run shot to right field.

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

Ortiz: 'A super honor' to have number retired by Red Sox

BOSTON —  The Red Sox have become well known for their ceremonies, for their pull-out-all-the-stops approach to pomp. The retirement of David Ortiz’s No. 34 on Friday evening was in one way, then, typical.

A red banner covered up Ortiz’s No. 34 in right field, on the facade of the grandstand, until it was dropped down as Ortiz, his family, Red Sox ownership and others who have been immortalized in Fenway lore looked on. Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice, Wade Boggs and Pedro Martinez. 

The half-hour long tribute further guaranteed permanence to a baseball icon whose permanence in the city and the sport was never in doubt. But the moments that made Friday actually feel special, rather than expected, were stripped down and quick. 

Dustin Pedroia’s not one to belabor many points, never been the most effusive guy around. (He’d probably do well on a newspaper deadline.) The second baseman spoke right before Ortiz took to the podium behind the mound.

“We want to thank you for not the clutch hits, the 500 home runs, we want to thank you for how you made us feel and it’s love,” Pedroia said, with No. 34 painted into both on-deck circles and cut into the grass in center field. “And you’re not our teammate, you’re not our friend, you’re our family. … Thank you, we love you.”

Those words were enough for Ortiz to have tears in his eyes.

“Little guy made me cry,” Ortiz said, wiping his hands across his face. “I feel so grateful. I thank God every day for giving me the opportunity to have the career that I have. But I thank God even more for giving me the family and what I came from, who teach me how to try to do everything the right way. Nothing — not money — nothing is better than socializing with the people that are around you, get familiar with, show them love, every single day. It’s honor to get to see my number …. I remember hitting batting practice on this field, I always was trying to hit those numbers.”

Now that’s a poignant image for a left-handed slugger at Fenway Park.

He did it once, he said — hit the numbers. He wasn’t sure when. Somewhere in 2011-13, he estimated — but he said he hit Bobby Doerr’s No. 1.

“It was a good day to hit during batting practice,” Ortiz remembered afterward in a press conference. “But to be honest with you, I never thought I’d have a chance to hit the ball out there. It’s pretty far. My comment based on those numbers was, like, I started just getting behind the history of this organization. Those guys, those numbers have a lot of good baseball in them. It takes special people to do special things and at the end of the day have their number retired up there, so that happening to me today, it’s a super honor to be up there, hanging with those guys.”

The day was all about his number, ultimately, and his number took inspiration from the late Kirby Puckett. Ortiz’s major league career began with the Twins in 1997. Puckett passed away in 2006, but the Red Sox brought his children to Fenway Park. They did not speak at the podium or throw a ceremonial first pitch, but their presence likely meant more than, say, Jason Varitek’s or Tim Wakefield’s.

“Oh man, that was very emotional,” Ortiz said. “I’m not going to lie to you, like, when I saw them coming toward me, I thought about Kirby. A lot. That was my man, you know. It was super nice to see his kids. Because I remember, when they were little guys, little kids. Once I got to join the Minnesota Twins, Kirby was already working in the front office. So they were, they used to come in and out. I used to get to see them. But their dad was a very special person for me and that’s why you saw me carry the No. 34 when I got here. It was very special to get to see them, to get kind of connected with Kirby somehow someway.”

Ortiz’s place in the row of 11 retired numbers comes in between Boggs’ No. 26 and Jackie Robinson’s No. 42.