Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sports Break Moment - Current Event Style

Michael Phelps returns in high style by smoking the world record in the 200m butterfly.

The PGA plows through the John Deere classic (yawn) on the way to the British Open championship.

Romessica (Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson) finally call it quits...on her birthday eve. Lets review, several weeks ago Jess gives Tony a $100K ski boat for his birthday. Tony returns the favor by giving her the boot for her's. Life's not fair is it Jess?

Tour de France - after riding 850+ miles over eight straight days, including two tough days through the mountain what does Lance and his team do on a day off? Hook up with some other competitors and ride 3+hours. Crazy.

The burning question: Why does ESPN think poker is a sport?

And finally...I mostly love a good underdog story and a close second is a story about an aging athlete making good (hi, Dara, Nolan, Brett). The only thing better is a story about an aging underdog making good (I hope to be looking at you soon, Lance).

But this story is about Tim Wakefield. Tim played college baseball at Florida Tech. He set school records and was named a two-time MVP as a 1st baseman and was drafted in the middle rounds of the free agent draft. Being sent to single A ball for the Pittsburgh Pirates he promptly took a professional pounding. Apparently he had the problem of always throwing a knuckle ball around the infield, he also lost his once feared hitting ability. His coach finally told him he'd never make it to double A ball.

That's where it got interesting. He elected to stay in extended spring training one season...a certain career killing move. Usually.

While warming-up before practice the pitching coach notice him throwing a knuckle ball and ask him to toss a few more, then moved him to the mound for a few pitches. Soon after, in a coaches meeting, the manager mentioned he was cutting Wakefield. The pitching coach ask if he'd seen Wakefield's knuckle ball.

One thing led to another and Tim changed from 1st baseman to pitcher saying, "I just wanted to say I tried everything I could to make it."

Tim was promptly traded to St. Louis, then back to the Pirates where he would win the NL Rookie of the Year. He came within few innings of being a shoe-in for NL MVP. Then he developed a few control "issues" and injuries he couldn't shake. Two years later he was cut by the pirates, but promptly picked up by the Boston Red Sox. That was in 1995.

And he now throws a 68 MPH knuckleball almost every pitch. That in the land of 98 MPH fastballs, 92 MPH sliders and 85 MPH change-ups. He also throws a 75 MPH fastball and a 60 MPH curve (sad even for a small town high school pitcher).

But, he currently ranks 3rd in all time wins with the Red Sox, just behind Cy Young and Roger Clements, and only Clements has more wins than Wakefield at Fenway Park...95-91. I'm sure Wakefield will hold that record before the season's end.

And most importantly, Tim Wakefield has been nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award 7 times. The Roberto Clemente Award goes to the player who "best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual's contribution to his team."

Tonight Tim plays in his first All Star game...at 42-years-old.

...you are now free to return to your original programming.

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