There’s a funny thing that happens to some people when they become parents. I’m sorry to say that I’m one of them. And let’s face it – after some of my confessions, you, dear reader, aren’t really that surprised when I go all sappy and analytical on you, are you?
Anyway, this week Tim Wakefield, a 45-year-old knuckleball pitcher on the Red Sox, recorded his 200th win. This was a cause for much celebration. Wake is beloved by Red Sox Nation, and rightly so. He’s been with the Red Sox for 17 years, and while his pitch might be unpredictable, the man is not. And while I was rejoicing in his win on Tuesday night, after six long weeks and eight failed attempts, it occurred to me that there are a number of life lessons that Tim Wakefield could teach my daughter:
- Don’t believe the bullshit about how all that matters is that you tried your best. Sorry folks, but Wake wouldn’t be remembered as the best 199-game winner we ever had. However, Wake does show that what matters is that you don’t stop trying. I have no doubt that those six weeks and eight failed attempts weighed heavily on him. There must have been some mighty low points. But he kept on going. And he got his 200th win. Perseverance matters.
- Sometimes, life just isn’t fair. Sometimes, legitimately, you do your best, and you’ve done everything you can or should have done, but you still don’t get what you want. Let’s not forget that in four of those attempts, Wake left with at least a one-run lead, and the bullpen failed him. But that’s no cause to throw your hands in the air and whine about the unfairness of it all. Instead, buckle down. Do what you can. And recognize that rewards sometimes take longer than you expected.
- You don’t have to be the best. If you are, that’s great. But most of us can’t be the best. Sometimes we can’t even be in the elite. There’s just too much competition. But sometimes success is defined not by how good we are at what everyone else can do. Instead, it’s defined by how we took a different route to get stellar results – like a guy who throws a 72-mph fastball who makes history by throwing a pitch almost nobody else can. Don’t be afraid to go your own way.
- Character is important. Red Sox Nation can be harsh. We can build a guy up, love him to pieces and then throw him to the wolves when he doesn’t perform. But Wakefield’s willingness to do whatever it takes for the good of the team – even if it’s against his own best interests – is legendary. Be loved for who you are, not what you can do.
- Always be willing to accept help when offered. We aren’t in this alone. Someone can always have your back. And on Tuesday night, the Sox bats lit up to the tune of 18 runs to make sure that this time, Wake would get his 200th. Sometimes, we all need a little help.
And so, that’s it. My top 5 takeaways from the life and times of Tim Wakefield. Thanks for being such a great teacher, Tim. And congratulations on a well-deserved 200th win.