Today was a sad day for Red Sox fans (no, not sadder than September 28th... or October 12th... or November 30th... but sad nonetheless), with the announcement by the team that veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is hanging up his spikes.
I've been a huge fan of Wakefield's since before he was even in Boston (for reasons unknown to me, I was a big Pirates fan back in 1992, when he burst on the scene as a rookie and pitched the team to two complete-game victories over the Braves in the NLCS--a series the Pirates would ultimately lose), and he remains one of my all-time favorites, alongside Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek. After enjoying a career renaissance in Boston with an out-of-nowhere 14-1 start to the 1995 season, Wake deservedly became a Red Sox fan favorite for the better part of the next two decades. For reasons I'll never fully understand, just about every Sox game I attended for 10 years was pitched by Wake, and I was never disappointed to see his number come up (even though Pedro games were an experience like no other).
Wake was occasionally spectacular, always reliable, and a consummate team player in an age where such a thing has become increasingly rare. My heart broke for him when he allowed the gut-punch home run to Aaron Boone to end the 2003 ALCS (it never should have come to that in the first place), and I was then incredibly happy for him when he earned the start in Game 1 of the next year's World Series. The Sox will be a little less fun without Wake's goofy knuckleball around, and I salute the man for a highly enjoyable career.
So, in honor of Wake, this week's Song of the Week(end) is Tim McGraw's "How Bad Do You Want It?", Wake's entrance music from last year. This may be the only time you'll see a country song here on the blog, but this one's for a good cause. I'll miss you, Wake. Enjoy retirement.