'A TEAM WITH NO CENTER': In years to come, when we reflect on this slice of the Red Sox tale, many names will be inextricably linked to the history-altering success of the 2004-and-beyond teams. David Ortiz. Manny Ramirez. Curt Schilling. There are some we'll remember at one end (Kevin Millar, Keith Foulke) and some at the other (Josh Beckett, Jonathan Papelbon).
Yet one name that probably won't come up is Mike Timlin.
Timlin has been here since 2003. He has begun to work his way onto the franchise's all-time lists in select categories. (Did you know, for instance, that only Bob Stanley, Tim Wakefield, Derek Lowe and Roger Clemens have pitched in more games for the Red Sox?) But his role -- setup reliever -- is a secondary one, and his contributions get overlooked, or lost, in the grandiose moments we'll never forget. Like Dave Roberts' stolen base, or Big Papi's extra-inning heroics, or Foulke's strikeout of Tony Clark, or J.D. Drew's grand slam, or Papelbon's pickoff of Matt Holliday, or . . . well, you get the picture.
Timlin, however, didn't just have a front-row seat to history; he helped shape it. In a fascinating conversation with Joe McDonald last night at McCoy Stadium, where's he rehabbing with the PawSox, he talked about how -- and why -- things finally changed:
I'm not one to overemphasize the importance of character and spirit and togetherness towards a team's success; talent is almost always more important, and there's no question the 2003-to-the-present Red Sox had/have plenty of that. But I'm not one to underemphasize it, either, because there were lots of Red Sox teams in my lifetime that had talent. These are the ones that cashed in on it.
Timlin's 42 years old now, and his days with the Sox are coming to an end. This is his second Pawtucket rehab stay this year -- the first was in April (above) -- and, truth be told, there's no guarantee he'll be part of an another October run this time around. His pitching this year has been so erratic (that's a kind way of putting it, eh?) that the Sox may not have a roster spot for him come playoff time.
But after it's over for him, I'll still remember Mike Timlim. And maybe I'll remember him most for the attributes he talked about to McDonald last night, attributes that led to one of the touching moments of the 2007 postseason:
Yes, they talked the talk. And then they walked the walk.
THE TRUE LEGACY: And if Timlin had anything to do with this, then his memory will really live on at Fenway Park:
LOOKING AHEAD: The Red Sox sit where they sit this morning -- 49-32, first place in the A.L. East -- not due to the contributions of 42-year-olds, but in great part because of the success of pitchers at the other end of the age spectrum. Steven Krasner takes a closer look.
THE SWORD SWINGS BOTH WAYS: Players/coaches/managers aren't the only ones to be disciplined by Major League Baseball for on-field disputes. Umpire Brian Runge was handed a one-game suspension for his actions during a dispute with Mets manager Jerry Manuel the other night. (New York Post)
CHANGE IN PLANS: First he wanted to manage the Mets. Now, angry because they didn't hire him, Gary Carter wants to manage someone else "and beat the heck out of [the Mets]." (New York Times)
'THE MEAT HAS AGED. IT'S BETTER MEAT': That was Charlie Finley's chortle when he raised the price on some of his players during his Kuhn-aborted attempt to sell off his stars in 1976. The present-day A's, though, might be saying the same thing about Rich Harden after his dominant performance last night against the Phillies. (San Francisco Chronicle)