Nation STATion: The Wakefield 44


Nation STATion: The Wakefield 44

By Bill Chuck
Special to

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.

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

According to Fortune, Theo's the greatest . . . in the world, not just baseball

Apparently, the Red Sox couldn’t hold onto the best leader in the world. And the best leader in the world has no idea how to housebreak his puppy.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein was given the top spot on a list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders," published by Fortune on Thursday morning.

The potential for silly takeaways from Epstein’s placement on the list -- and his response to it in a text to ESPN’s Buster Olney -- are amusing, if not astounding.

Wait, Epstein doesn’t think baseball is the most important thing in the world?

"Um, I can't even get my dog to stop peeing in the house," Epstein told Olney. "That is ridiculous. The whole thing is patently ridiculous. It's baseball -- a pastime involving a lot of chance. If [Ben] Zobrist’s ball is three inches farther off the line, I'm on the hot seat for a failed five-year plan. And I'm not even the best leader in our organization; our players are."

Zobrist, of course, had the go-ahead hit in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Indians.

As Fortune described it, the list of leaders is meant to include those “transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same” across business, government, philanthropy and the arts.

Epstein certainly did help transform the baseball world.

“In the fall of 2016, as partisan distrust and division reached abysmal depths, fascination with the Chicago Cubs became that all-too-rare phenomenon that united America,” his blurb on the list begins.

That’s fair. But, if you scroll down the list: Pope Francis is No. 3. Angela Merkel is No. 10 and LeBron James is No. 11.

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Drellich: Don't let Sam Travis' lack of batting gloves fool you

Three players are tied for the Red Sox' lead in home runs in Florida. Only two of them will be with the team come Opening Day.

The other may be the starting first baseman a year from now.

Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Sam Travis have all gone deep three times this Grapefruit League season.

Coming back from surgery on his left ACL, Travis has yet to play in the majors. But he easily could later this year.

In a perfect world, though, the 23-year-old spends 2017 at Triple-A Pawtucket. He needs to prove he can consistently hit off-speed pitches.

A right-handed hitting first baseman who played college ball with Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs, Travis already crushes fastballs.

He carries himself like a stereotypical masher, too.

Travis rocks an unbuttoned jersey with no undershirt. No batting gloves. A grip-it-and-rip-it approach and Mike Napoli vibe.

But, don't get too caught up in the image.

"I mean, are you essentially asking like, do I still like have a plan?" Travis said when approached about his reputation.

No, because everyone has a plan. It's a question of how his is formulated, what matters to him. Because it can't always be as simple as see ball, hit ball. And it isn't.

"I definitely watch video. Everyone watches video," Travis said. "You kind of need to watch video when you get to this stage . . . You're in the box, you don't really want to think at all. That's what practice is for. But yeah, I'm definitely working on stuff.

"Just because I don't wear batting gloves doesn't mean I'm just going out there -- I definitely still got an idea what I'm trying to do."

Travis said he tried batting gloves once in high school and they just didn't feel right. So he takes hacks with a 34-inch bat with no frills..

But even when hitters say they don't think at the plate, they do.

If you're up 2-and-0, the thought has to cross your mind: fastball?

"I mean, yeah, you definitely are talking to yourself," Travis said. "But you don't want to get too far into your own thoughts because then that's when you get in trouble."

Slugging involves calculating.

Travis will look at scouting reports, but they're not his end-all be-all. The written ones, anyway. He keeps others in his head.

"I like to know what pitches [an opponent] has, which way pitches are going to move," Travis said. "But you know, you find that out from other players, and of course scouting reports and video. But the best experience is when you're actually in there, when you actually see it first hand.

"I remember everybody."

Video can be used to break down one's own swing, too. But that's not Travis. Tinkering's not his bag.

In part, that's because he's always had a simple approach mechanically.

"I don't really take much of a stride or anything. I kind of just pick it up and put it down," Travis said. "I've always been the guy that can make an adjustment pitch to pitch and at-bat to at-bat depending on what the pitcher is, it just goes with like timing and stuff."

Usually, somewhere along the way -- in the professional or amateur chain -- a coach will try to change a player's swing. Travis said that wasn't the case for him, though.

"No. Not really," Travis said. "Everyone's still gonna have minor adjustments, it's just how the game works. You know, you're going to put a bad swing on the ball. But as long as you recognize it and get right back to where you are . . .

"I've always been a guy who believes less movement, the better it is. That's my own personal opinion. Whatever works for people, that's what they're going to do."

Sometimes, that means loosening a few buttons and just letting it rip.

After watching a little video before the game.