Monday, July 06, 2009

Congratulations, Tim Wakefield

I've been thinking for most of the day about what to write about Tim Wakefield's All-Star selection, trying to avoid a sappy listing of plaudits while still expressing my admiration for the man and his pitching. Eventually, I realized his selection came down to two very simple ideas.

First, the selection has an aura of added respectability, like the selection is one of those lifetime achievement awards that the Academy hands out at Oscar time, adding yet more luster to the career of the athlete who's carried the Pro torch on a marathon pace in Boston. Red Sox fans love Wakefield because he represents all that we think modern athletes don't have: the virtues of loyalty, team spirit, and lack of ego. He's a folk hero in Boston sports and we love to see our folk heroes recognized by the institutions that helped create them.

Second and more importantly, there is a very "well, duh" feeling behind the choice. To be sure, Wakefield is not having the kind of career year he's been fortunate enough to have twice in his life - the kind that, were he able to reproduce with year-over-year consistency, would surely grant him a spot in the Hall - but as he's aged, he's become the anchor of the Boston pitching staff, the guy who fans can rely on to eat up innings, make thirty starts or so a year, and not land on the DL. His flashes of brilliance are the more precious for their unpredictability, making the guy look like a magician when the volatile mixture of elements that can make a knuckleball dance act in harmony. If Pedro in his prime was great to watch because he looked like a god come to Earth, Wakefield in his element is great to watch because he looks like an everyday working guy who happened to have caught a bolt of lightning for the day. Red Sox fans have known this idea for years. We're just glad the rest of the country will finally get a chance to see him in the same light.