Nice-Off ’08!

The contenders

So Amy and I wrote another piece for InSite. You can pick it up on the street or at your local drinking establishment. For frees even! Here you go:

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Nicer
By Kristen Merrill and Amy Rossi

It’s widely believed around these parts that Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is the nicest guy in cleats. Wake’s been with the team since 1995 and has always operated in a low-profile, under the radar type way, content to let the resident lunatics like Manny or ego-maniacs like Beckett and Schilling grab the headlines. Wakefield just goes about his business, pitches to the best of his ability (which is sometimes pretty great), and doesn’t say boo when the team steadfastly refuses to score runs for him. Hell, he didn’t even make a stink when Theo traded away his personal binky Doug Mirabelli to San Diego for a few months and Wake was left playing psychiatrist to poor, emotionally damaged Josh Bard. So I think we can all agree. Tim Wakefield: Nice guy. Solid dude. You’d want him to date your sister or be best friends with your brother. The kind of guy you could invite to a family barbecue or even a christening and know he’d be respectful and polite and wouldn’t embarrass you in any way. Stand up guy, that Wake.

But now the Sox have added free agent first basemen Sean Casey who is regarded around the whole of baseball to be the nicest person alive. They call him “The Mayor” because of his genuine affability and all around niceness. Teammates love him and, it would appear, Casey loves and respects them in turn.

So we got to thinking, now that Casey is a member of the Sox and Wakefield is returning for his fourteenth go-round with the team, might there be a bit of healthy one-upmanship among these two paragons of niceness? Might there be a bit of competition? Might the season not play out thusly?

February 20: Sean Casey allows David Ortiz to test his knee strength by getting jumped upon.

February 21: Tim Wakefield allows Mike Timlin to test his bow strength by pulling a William Tell at the practice facility.

April 20: Sean Casey chats with a couple elderly female fans before the game.

April 21: Tim Wakefield appears as keynote speaker for a Red Hat Society luncheon, red hat and all.

May 3: Sean Casey has Clay Buchholz over for a home-cooked meal, so the rookie can have a break from Trader Joe’s chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.

May 4: Tim Wakefield invites Clay Buchholz and his mountain of laundry over and separates his whites and colors for him. And lets him pick the radio station on the way home.

May 13: Tim Wakefield visits Children’s Hospital before the game and invites three patients to sit in the dugout.

May 14: Sean Casey convinces entire team to play remainder of series in the Children’s Hospital cafeteria.

May 25: Tim Wakefield babysits the little Delcarmen child so reliever Manny Delcarmen and his missus can have a night on the town.

May 26: Sean Casey opens up a daycare facility in the clubhouse, with an extra large chair so Manny Ramirez can do macaroni art too. He provides unlimited glitter glue.

June 24: Tim Wakefield stops at a crosswalk to let a field trip of second graders cross the road.

June 25: Sean Casey charters a school bus and drives 45 Boston public schoolchildren to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

July 3: Sean Casey appears on NESN wishing everyone a happy Independence Day.

July 4: Tim Wakefield travels door to door, dressed as Uncle Sam and carrying sparklers while delivering singing Independence Day telegrams to all Greater Boston residents.

July 13: Tim Wakefield adopts a dog from a local animal shelter.

July 14: Sean Casey adopts a local animal shelter.

July 22: Sean Casey buys his wife flowers. Just ’cause.

July 23: Tim Wakefield hires Joe Cocker and a string quartet to serenade his wife with “You Are So Beautiful” during a private, candlelit dinner at the top of the Prudential Center.

August 7: Sean Casey drops in a game of kickball with some local kids in South Boston.

August 8: Tim Wakefield invites all Boston youth to play kickball on the Fenway outfield while he personally mans the hot dog stand. Unlimited ketchup for all!

September 1: Tim Wakefield brings a chicken parm sub to the park for Doug Mirabelli as a special treat to thank him for being a friend.

September 2: Sean Casey hires the chef from Il Trattorio in the North End as Doug Mirabelli’s personal chicken parm chef.

September 16: Sean Casey writes Terry Francona a heartfelt note, expressing his appreciation for being a member of the team.

September 17: Tim Wakefield papers over the billboard overlooking Fenway with an artist’s rendering of Tito and the lyrics to “The Rose.”

October 1: Sean Casey offers to be removed from the playoff roster in order to give one of the young guys a chance.

October 2: Tim Wakefield smiles sagely and says, “That’s so 2007, my friend.”

Amy Rossi is a 2006 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She lives in Brookline, makes killer biscuits and has a bizarre weakness for Chris Capuano, Prince Fielder and the rest of the Milwaukee Brewers. She likes her Sox red and one day hopes to own a panda bear which she will name “Pinkie.”

Kristen Merrill is a 2002 graduate of Emerson College. She lives in Brighton with resident feline Rocky Dave Roberts Markakat and several dust bunnies. Kristen is a freelance writer who runs the popular sports blog “Basegirl” (www.basegirl.blogspot.com). She’s a sucker for Boston sports teams, straight tequila and power ballads. Particularly Journey.

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