I took a lot of grief for calling Timmeh the Face of the Franchise on that ESPN thingee, but I stand my ground; there’s no one who better defines — at least in my mind — what it means to be a Red Sox player than Shakey Wakey. His “team first, me second” mentality was one of the things that helped pull us from the dark days of 25 cabs for 25 players. And I never get tired of hearing tales of his hugeness of heart, like this Projo interview:
Last fall, his shoulder aching from a slap tear in his right labrum, Wakefield withdrew himself from consideration for the team’s rotation in the World Series. The Sox had wanted him to start Games Two and Six — and avoid the thin air of Denver’s Coors Field — but Wakefield knew he would be unable to make two starts.
If Wakefield made the Game Two start and couldn’t finish, he would have used up a valuable roster spot and left the team short-handed for the duration of the Series. With great regret — but certain he was doing the right thing — he told the team to make him inactive.
“It was disappointing,” said Wakefield. “You train and play all season just to get to that point. But from a team standpoint, it was the right decision. It was hard to sit and watch. That’s the hardest thing to do — sit and watch. You’re not thinking of yourself and as a athlete and competitor, that’s hard to do. You want to compete. But I had to think about the other 24 guys in there.
“I thought, ‘This isn’t right; these games count. If I go out at 50 percent and can’t get out of the second inning, it’s not fair. I didn’t think it was fair to all the other guys.”
Gotta also love the guy’s status as the club’s elder statesman. For the record, here are just a few of the names who’ve passed through Fenway’s revolving gate during Wake’s tenure:
Heathcliff Slocumb (!)
Creighton “Best Name Ever” Gubanich
Manny “Those Aren’t My Steroids” Alexander
And, yes, this list was put up for no other reason than to give me another chance to type Creighton Gubanich.