Look, I know we're not supposed to care who gets the win, as long as the team wins, and we don't root for the players individually, necessarily, we root for the laundry. Last night, the Red Sox won in Minnesota, keeping them 1.5 games up on the Yankees, and that's really all that should matter.
But if ever there was a player that warranted at least a momentary diversion from those higher priorities, it's Tim Wakefield. When he says in that NESN commercial, "I am a part of Fenway Park," it's a hairs' breadth away from being literal. His longevity alone has made him not just a favorite but a symbol, a link to history -- a walking, talking, knuckleballing heirloom for Red Sox fans. If there is an exception to most rules, it seems, Tim Wakefield is it.
So watching him try yet a third time for his 200th win in a Red Sox uniform, and watching him, this time, get so close and still fall short -- the Sox went up 6-5 in the top of the eighth while Wake was still the pitcher of record, but in the bottom of that inning Alfredo Aceves surrendered the tying run, then went on to vulture the win -- was terrifically frustrating. What, at long last, is it going to take?
Yet that frustration, and his ever-present graciousness in the face of it -- are just another part of the Legend of Wakefield (and I say 'legend' without sarcasm). He's seen everyone from Roger Clemens to Mike Aviles pass through the Red Sox clubhouse. He's seen 199 victories, and he's seen Aaron Boone touch 'em all. He's been victorious and a failure, both well-loved and battered, and above all, he has endured. And so, if he has to wait another turn of the rotation to mark this milestone, it won't be the first or worst such thing he has had to accept.