January 4, 2004

Tim Wakefield Keeps His Grip. Gordon Edes is on a roll, first with an in-depth look at the A-Rod negotiations, and now with a feature on Wakefield. The knuckleballer admits that after Game 7, he was terrified that after a season that was "the most fun I've ever had in my whole career," he "would be remembered like Buckner [and] wouldn't be able to show my face in Boston again." But as he discovered, Wakefield had nothing to worry about. Even Aaron Boone's name does not stir rancor among the Nation; sportswriters may want desperately to forge some idiotic connection between him and B.F. Dent, but does any fan despise Boone most of all?

"It's not Grady's fault," Wakefield says, refusing to indict that chronically over-matched, grinning jackass, loser of a (mis-)manager. "It's not anybody's fault. Do I wish he had taken Pedro out? Yes. Would it have changed the outcome of the game? I don't know. You don't know. But the way things were happening in the playoffs, Timlin and Embree were our go-to guys. ... The night we lost, Grady said, 'You guys have nothing to be disappointed about. You really entertained a lot of people.'" Entertained? Man, that's a poor choice of words. But it does emphasize Gump's utter cluelessness, right to the bitter end, about the club and its relationship to its fans. (When told how much anger there was towards him after the ALCS, he responded, "For what?") Following the Red Sox can be entertaining, but it is much more than entertainment.

There are new posts in the Game 7 Game Thread. "BrunanskysSlide" mentions the Simpsons episode "where Lisa gives Ralph a Valentine then tells him that it was a pity valentine. This thread reminds me of the part where Bart is showing Lisa the videotape of the scene and says, 'You can almost pinpoint the part where Ralph's heart breaks.'" ... "curly2" notes: "One of the franchise's darkest days was when Lucky gave Grady the card that said 'I choo-choo-choose you as manager.'"

Meanwhile, in stark contrast to Edes's excellent reporting, Tony Massarotti works on his ABCs. At SoSH, John Henry offers his thoughts on the Rodriguez/Ramirez talks:

"I think the post mortem (and it may sound overly simple) should emphasize that the Red Sox were afraid of losing a Hall of Fame shortstop and they were trying to accomodate another player in exchange for a great Hall of Famer who really wanted to play in Boston. However, 2004 and beyond are set up well enough that we had to have a deal within particular parameters for it to make sense. Was it a mistake to find out if it could happen? I don't think so. Ultimately, under the terms we were given to make it happen, making a major change in this team would have been a mistake - in our view - particularly in our GM's view. ... As in all baseball matters the GM here was the lead voice internally and essentially set parameters that made sense. ... The largest [tactical errors] occur when you move forward regardless - 'go for it' simply because of momentum, effort invested, impatience and potential disappointment. We are very much at peace with the end result. I hope you can be as well."

Paul Hopkins, the nation's oldest major league player, died last week at age 99. In his debut on September 29, 1927, Hopkins allowed Babe Ruth's 59th home run of that season. Jesse Orosco is now the nation's oldest major leaguer.

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