Archive for the ‘Tim Wakefield’ Category

The Superbat vs. The Wiffleknuckle

There is no way in hell that I could ever hit a Josh Beckett fastball. And Johan Santana’s changeup would make me look stupid. But if I ever had the opportunity, I would crush a Tim Wakefield knuckleball.

Honestly, how hard can it be? I’ve watched most of his starts this season and have yet to see the knuckleball hit 70 mph, and his 16 wins against major leaguers would not translate to what I bring to the plate.

Let me explain.

When I was 11, we played backyard wiffleball games with this kid named Kenny*. Kenny was 17 and would just dominate us younger kids with his array of pitches. He had transformed his backyard into a wiffleball stadium, and while most other teenagers were getting part time jobs or trying to pick up girls, Kenny was perfecting his wiffleknuckle. Game after game during summer break Kenny would destroy us. He was literally a man among boys, but we were suckers for punishment and would keep showing up to the Wiffle Dome.

Ballplay at the Wiffle Dome generally followed the standard wiffleball rules. The Indian rubber and pitcher’s hand rules were both observed. There was a five gallon bucket that was perched horizontally where the catcher would normally be. If the pitcher put a ball past the hitter and into the bucket it was an automatic out. We played two-man teams, 3 outs per inning, 6-inning games. If you hit a ball off of Kenny’s house it was a double, if you hit one on the roof of the house it was a home run.

Now Kenny didn’t live in some small ranch-style house. He was in a two-story, so you really had to muscle up to hit one out. As August was winding down, and with junior high school right around the corner, I made a vow to myself that by the end of the summer I would hit a home run off Kenny. I bought a brand new yellow wiffleball bat. I stole some of my Dad’s black and blue electrical tape, and in true The Natural fashion I created the Superbat. I was sure blue and black horizontal stripes designed to hypnotize the pitcher would level the playing field and neutralize Kenny.

During that summer, I never achieved my goal of taking Kenny deep, but I can take solace in knowing several things. First of all, I definitely wasn’t the biggest loser out there. Secondly I was eleven years old, facing a 17-year-old man-child, and I held my own. I took whatever crazy pitch he threw at me and still hit .350 during that summer. I looked into the eyes of the devil and came out of it a better man. If there was a Salem Wiffleball All Star team, I definitely would have made it.

Tim Wakefield, as your career is coming to a close, take comfort in knowing that you played well against major leaguers. But know this: you wouldn’t have lasted a week in my neighborhood. Everyone knows it’s much harder to hit a wiffleball than a baseball. I played ball on the mean streets of New Hampshire. I’ve faced the best, and I’ve hit the best.

*Names and locations have been changed to protect the identity of the greatest wiffleball player who ever lived. Also, when he gets out of prison, I don’t want him to come looking for me.