Wickman's Warriors trading cards and effects provided courtesy of 
Jimmy Havran Enterprises of Norwalk, Ohio 

 

WICKMAN’S WARRIORS BECOMING A MONSTER!!

Newcomers to World Wide Wick may not be familiar with Bob Wickman’s mysterious alter ego. This dark entity is fueled by the power that lies deep inside- a mixture of guts, savvy and pure adrenaline. It’s the triple-dog-dare-ya- to- beat- me mentality that allows the master closer to walk a tight rope over the shark tank and come out the other side victorious, clutching a battered save in his mighty paw. When the game is on the line, when he’s hit rock bottom, when all hope for victory seems lost and the meter is flashing “empty,”- Bob Wickman summons the beast below and goes radioactive!The first hint of the secret weapon surfaced from the deep on August 26th, 2001 in Seattle against the Mariners...

In comes Wick in the bottom of the ninth and gives up a single to Mike Cameron, but then he strikes out David Bell. Bobby broke Carlos Guillen’s bat on the next pitch, but Omar Vizquel had no play on the slow roller. Pinch-hitter Stan Javier then skied a ball off home plate that Bob could only wait for and catch to load the bases.

    In comes the American League MVP and Rookie of the Year candidate Ichiro Suzuki, who promptly bounced a 2-2 pitch back to the mound. Bob snagged it and smartly threw home for the force. Mark McLemore ended the game by hitting into a force play at second. Wick fought his way out of the hornet’s nest the same way he got into it--by having the batters beat the ball into the ground.

Then, nearly a year later, after battling through terrible pain pitching with a wrecked right elbow, our hero garnered all the strength available for one last hurrah before surgery would derail the Wickman dynamo...

The return of Wick to the bullpen from the DL on August 10th set up a monster Saturday afternoon game. Enter Bobby in the top of the ninth to face the bottom of the Texas Rangers’ batting order in a 3-3 tie. Will he breeze through a 1-2-3 ninth on this hot August day, or must he summon the beast within to set up his first victory of the year? Duh.

 After getting ahead of the .178 Sadler (who?), the count goes to full on some questionable non-calls before this guy flies out to center. After a Herbert Perry walk, Catalanotto singles off the glove of the diving Gutierrez. What the…? Did I just feel a tremor? The whole place just shook! Here comes some guy named Lamb. Sacrificial, I hope. Come on, double play.

 There it is. A slow roller to short. Vizquel to Gutierrez for one, the relay to first: Not in time! What’s that growling sound? Are we having an earthquake or what? First and third, two outs. Oh great, here comes A-Rod.

 Bobby’s ahead, 1-2. Ball 2. Fouled-off. Ball 3. Come on, call that! Fouled again. A swing and a liner towards the right field corner! No! That’ll score two! Wait, here comes a streaking Karim (I knew I liked this guy) Garcia! 

He’s got a bead on it. He reaches up, snags it, crashes into the wall and hangs on!!!Later in the inning, with Jim Thome at second, who else but Karim blisters a single off the left field wall to score J.T. with the winning run. Exit Bobzilla into the sunset with his first win of the season under a big throbbing right paw, wondering if that was the last time he’d ever throw a major league pitch.  

Following a December date with the knife, the legend went underground for the grueling 18 months of healing and rehab necessary to complete a successful comeback from Tommy John surgery. After a scary spring training setback in which Bobby Wick had to summon MONSTER resolve ("I won't quit. I will pitch again"), the stage was set on July 6th, 2004 for the RETURN OF BOBZILLA... 

Activated earlier in the day, the match up between the Indians and the Rangers proved the perfect stage for our hero’s return. Starter Cliff Lee (8-1) pitched a fabulous six and two-thirds innings against the red hot Texas team, turning over the 4-1 lead to reliever Matt Miller, who held the Rangers scoreless to the eighth.

Enter the Dragon. The applause from the crowd built gradually as Wick made his way to the mound, and he got a standing ovation as his name was officially announced. 

Just like he never missed a beat, Bob shattered Eric Young’s bat as the popper fell harmlessly into Omar Vizquel’s glove for the first out. After Michael Young ripped a line-drive single to right field, Bobzilla got down to business by striking out Alfonzo Soriano on three straight pitches. The inning ended on a high fly ball by Mark Teixeira to center, which Coco Crisp smartly put away.

After David Riske recorded the final out of the game, it was a joy to watch Bob go through the post-game congratulation line, getting hugs and high-fives from his teammates. It was finally here: The day that he worked so hard for. It was the day that he deserved, and it seemed everyone there was close to tearing up a little, including yours truly who had a ringside seat down by the bullpen and got to high-five the big guy before that door swung open for him. But then he never would have gotten the reaction from the crowd that he did if we all weren’t aware of what he’s been going through for the last two years.

 

That’s all over now. Bob says he won’t hold back. “If she goes, she goes. I’m throwing every pitch I can. Either it’s healed or it’s not.”

 

Well folks, by now you've guessed the ending; the rest is history. A happy and healthy Bob Wickman went on to smash all obstacles and barriers in his way by tapping that inner strength we all have available deep down inside but so few of us have the courage to awaken. Bobzilla is nothing more than the refusal to quit come hell or high water.

7-6-2004

After nearly two agonizing years, Cleveland’s beloved closer Bob Wickman returned to the mound on a glorious summer night at the Jake.

Activated earlier in the day, the match up between the Indians and the Rangers proved the perfect stage for our hero’s return.

Starter Cliff Lee (8-1) pitched a fabulous six and two-thirds innings against the red hot Texas team, turning over the 4-1 lead to reliever Matt Miller, who held the Rangers scoreless to the eighth.

Enter the Dragon.

The applause from the crowd built gradually as Wick made his way to the mound, and he got a standing ovation as his name was officially announced. 

Just like he never missed a beat, Bob shattered Eric Young’s bat as the popper fell harmlessly into Omar Vizquel’s glove for the first out. After Michael Young ripped a line-drive single to right field, Bobzilla got down to business by striking out Alfonzo Soriano on three straight pitches. The inning ended on a high fly ball by Mark Teixeira to center, which Coco Crisp (Wickman’s Warriors player of the month-June) smartly put away.

After David Riske recorded the final out of the game, it was a joy to watch Bob go through the post-game congratulation line, getting hugs and high-fives from his teammates. It was finally here: The day that he worked so hard for. It was the day that he deserved, and it seemed everyone there was close to tearing up a little. But then he never would have gotten the reaction from the crowd that he did if we all weren’t aware of what he’s been going through for the last two years.

“The toughest thing has been coming to the ballpark for two years knowing that you’re not going to play,” said Wick. “The team is going out there at 7 p.m. and you’re going home.”

 That’s all over now. Bob says he won’t hold back. “If she goes, she goes. I’m throwing every pitch I can. Either it’s healed or it’s not.”

Whatever happens, Bob Wickman took the high, hard road and never quit. I’m going to enjoy watching a great ballplayer honor the last 3 months of his contract, and take whatever lessons I can learn from his example.

Update: 7-12-04  

Loyal Bob Wickman fans everywhere are being rewarded for their faithfulness by the stellar performance of our comeback kid.

The popularity of Wickman’s Warriors is beginning to return to the pre-elbow injury days of 2002, when Bobby was saving games at an alarming rate. The website lit up like a Christmas tree the week of Wick’s return, and emails of congratulations have been steady (you guys in Wisconsin are awesome homeboy supporters). Tee shirt orders are going up as well as requests for yours-truly to do some interviews. We all deserve a pat on the back for our unwavering confidence in Bob’s perseverance.

Our success at the club, however, has always depended on Wick’s performance on the field. He came through with flying colors.

 In his 3 appearances leading up to the All-Star Break, Bob’s numbers looked like this:

IP-3      HITS-4     BB-2      SO-2     ERA- 0.00

As usual, our hero gets into some tight squeezes, but usually knows how to get out safely. Bob looks strong as a bulldog so far, and his pitches still have that wicked sinking action our boy is known for. Bob states his main goal as “finishing off the year strong.” We have no reason to doubt it- remember-

“IN BOB WE TRUST!”   J. Ladd

P.S. Why wasn’t Bob Wickman on the All-Star team? He hasn’t given up a run in almost 2 years!

 

   

With Apologies to Andy Warhol

Great Save #254

5-24-07: The latest pitching match up between John Smoltz and friend Tom Glavine of the Mets would end with a historic save for Bob Wickman.

Pitching in his first save opportunity since coming off the DL from a back injury, Bobby’s first converted save in the month of May would cement John Smoltz in Cooperstown as the first ballplayer ever to record 200 wins and 150 saves.

The Wickster’s save record at Turner field was a perfect 14/14 with a stellar 0.35 ERA. But as usual, nothing would come easy in this monstrously important game between the Braves and their arch-rivals, the Mutts. Number 28 would have to summon the beast within to secure this piece of history. With Atlanta leading 2-0, enter the dragon…

The ninth started out with Carlos Delgado leading off, who was 0-6 lifetime against Bob but always dangerous. Looking just to reach base, Delgado slapped a low 1-2 pitch to the opposite field for a single.

…did anyone just hear a growling sound?…

Next up is the equally dangerous Shawn Green, who would be swinging for the fences with a guy on. After our hero fires 2 quick strikes, Green hits what should be a routine 0-2 grounder to 2nd. Bobbled by second baseman Kelly Johnson! E4 – Everyone safe! Not again!

…what the?!-Is that an earthquake? The whole place just shook…

After Ruben Gotay bunted the runners over to 2nd and 3rd, the 48 (or something like that) year old Julio Franco gets his chance to spoil the night for the good guys. He promptly skies a check swing bouncer off home plate. Wick flies off the mound to the right side. He settles, grabs it and smartly underpaws it to Thorman at first. One run scores.

…what’s with the lightning flashes?! Not a cloud in the sky…

One run in, man on third with 2 outs. This is it -Do or die with Jose Reyes to the plate and the pressure at a fever pitch. First pitch is a 90 MPH bulls eye. The second one high. Here comes the 1-1…Popped a mile in the air! Renteria frantically waves everyone off at short. He settles under it and squeezes the final out!

The Bobzilla roar blends in with the cheers of 34,000  fans as the Monster of the Mound fires his spent chaw across the infield in jubilant relief. Save #7 was a long time coming, but couldn’t have been scripted any better as the Big Guy gets a grateful hug from Smoltzie on a baseball night for the ages. J.Ladd