All hail the Fat Man: Gimme five, he’s still alive

August 12th, 2006 → 12:55 pm @ // No Comments

One of the things I was most surprised by last year was the hatred directed towards David Wells. Fans didn’t like him. Reporters weren’t overly fond of him. Casual acquaintances asked me why the Sox had bothered to sign him up at all.

I’ve always kind of liked Wells. I’m naturally predisposed towards people who speak their minds, and Wells’s apparent inability to keep his mouth shut was refreshing in a world in which most everyone is trained not to offend. Watching ESPN in the clubhouse before a game one day, he blurted out, apropos of nothing, “Can you imagine what my record would be like if all these guys weren’t on steroids? That’s one good thing about being so fat: no one’ll ever suspect me.” When Manny had his mid-season melt-down, most of his teammates tossed off platitudes about what a good teammate he was and how his trade demands were never a distraction. Wells wasn’t quite so politic. “The guy’s messing with my cake,” Wells said last July 30. “I don’t care what’s going on. This team needs him. … It’s selfish for him not to step up. Listen, we’ve got a couple of guys hurt.” On the last night of last year’s August visit to Kansas City, I asked Wells about the intensity of the fans in Boston. He didn’t give a rote speech about how nice it was to play in front of passionate fans; instead, he said publicly what a lot of the players had grumbled about privately. “[The fans] don’t care [about privacy]. That’s why I don’t go out. You can’t enjoy a drink with a friend or a meal with your family because they’re such huge fans. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when the game’s over, you’ve got to let us breathe. I mean, look at Manny. He’s got a hard time. And David Ortiz, Johnny Damon, guys very seldon go out because they know what they’re up against and they don’t want the hassle. There’s really nowhere to hide.”

I’ve also liked Wells because he’s a true physical marvel. Roger Clemens works his ass off to stay in shape; Julio Franco eats 20 egg whites as the first of his five or six meals a day. Wells? He eats like crap, drinks a lot, throws a beautifully nasty curve, has remarkable control…and may or may not have thrown a perfect game while half-drunk. He’s a physical marvel like Hunter Thompson was a physical marvel.

For Wells fans, last night was a good night. In May, the hulking lefty suffered an incredible bout of bad luck when he was nailed in the right knee in his first game back from an injury…to his right knee. Since then, he’s been uncharacteristically quiet: no calls for Bud Selig’s resignation, no disses of his teammates, none of his outbreaks of verbal diarhhea. As a result, he’d almost slipped under the radar (to the extent that any Red Sox player who weights 250 lbs can slip under the radar in Boston). After a so-so outing from Josh Beckett, a shaky one from Jon Lester, a blown save from Jonathan Papelbon, and a late-inning meltdown by Curt Schilling, it was Wells, the balding, ornery, overweight ex-Yankee, who, for one day at least, was the savior. The stopper, even.

Grateful Dead fans used to affectionately refer to Jerry Garcia as the Fat Man. If the Sox are going to make a successful push to October, Wells will be one of the keys, and I hope the Fat Man keeps tearing off those nasty curves, keeps putting up those phenomenal K/BB numbers, and keeps spouting off. It’s just David being David. And it’s exactly what we need.

Post Categories: David Wells & Oblique references to Grateful Dead lyrics

3 Comments → “All hail the Fat Man: Gimme five, he’s still alive”

  1. Bill Pratt

    17 years ago

    Thank you for posting my 8/11/06 comment regarding the importance of the Red Sox having fun while understanding that this is, after all, a billion dollar business.

    Being in the Northern Virginia/Baltimore market, subscribing to Direct TV, and my friend being out of town (the one with the season package), I’m blacked out with the MLB TV thing today. So, I’m relegated with the dreaded “game cast” you suffered with on 8/10/06. While watching the 8/12/06 game pitch by raw data pitch with a comeback in the making, I can only hope that the Red Sox continue to have fun as exhibited in the win last night.

    Of course, the fun to be spoken of would be David “Call me the Karate Kid” Ortiz’s performance after that stand-up-spin-around double last night.

    With direct relevance to this blog, it should be noted that David Wells certainly knows a thing or two about having fun.

    The next time you talk to Bill James, can you ask him if there is more than one guy who got beaned in the head, caught a ball diving into the stands, and stole a base in the same game?


  2. zoowah

    17 years ago

    Nice review in the NYT Book Review, Seth.

    Tho I’ll now think twice about borrowing someone else’s cell phone.


  3. mtalinm

    17 years ago

    Seth, would you consider starting a Break The Silence campaign for David Wells? I totally agree that his commentary makes the season much more livable…especially when we’re any number of games behind NYY.


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