Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sentiment and Hope

Tim Wakefield, author of two hundred career wins, the third highest win total of any Red Sox pitcher, and apparently a very good man, retires.  Other than dying, the best way to earn great praise is to retire.

Make no mistake, examining Wakefield's entire body of work, from his illustrious beginnings in 1995 for the Sox, to post-season contributions, and charity work, he has a great, supportable narrative. But the past two seasons, he became more of a liability than an asset, especially when the Sox ran him out there time after time (eight) in pursuit of victory two-hundred. One can argue that the horrendous start, the Wakefield 200 tour, and the September collapse all had roles. Similarly, let none of us forget the Jacksonian "what have you done for me lately" attitude that baseball fans live. I never felt that he was out there just picking up a paycheck.

Maybe that's harsh, in light of the 'good soldier' ethic that might have entitled Wakefield to a few private moments of selfishness for desiring individual milestones. Don't we want our athletes to seek greatness?

It's hard for athletes past their prime to walk away, especially when they know that on a given day, they can still compete at a high level. Watching Kevin Garnett hasn't become as painful as it must be for him to see his declining consistency. And Wakefield wouldn't have been looking for a payday anywhere near that of Garnett.

So, I'm happy for Wakefield, with a memorable career, an All-Star appearance, the former 'active' leader in career wins, and a handful of Cy Young votes in 1995. He should have a wonderful retirement with his beautiful family. If he desires to have an extended career in broadcasting or other baseball-related field, I'm all for it. But I am not sad to see him leave the playing field.

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