The name alone evokes all kinds of emotions from all kinds of people. He was criticized and praised, hated and loved as much as any athlete, and he's always marched to the beat of his own drum — which sometimes meant tossing a perfect game while dealing with a hangover.
As his career was winding down and his age was on its way up, the Red Sox rescued Wells from San Diego, paid him $4 million a year and trusted him. He pitched OK, and fared well in a playoff game against Chicago (does Tony Graffanino ring a bell?). Still, many Red Sox fans couldn't give Wells the same trust that the organization was willing to offer. After all, he loved the Yankees, played some of his best baseball with the Yankees and even wore Babe Ruth's number when he first showed up in Boston. Some conspiracy theorists called him an "embedded Yankee."
He probably wasn't, but his quotes this week in the New York Post about Boston show that the big fella didn't seem to enjoy his time in the Hub.
"I can just imagine what the scene in Red Sox Nation is about now," Wells wrote for the Post. "The fans are bitter. Very bitter."
His argument was that the Yankees are by far the team of the decade and that the Red Sox aren't in the discussion.
"Boston had a good team and made a nice run for a few years, but now they have got some holes," he continued. "The Yankees and Red Sox won two championships apiece this decade, but you've got to ask, 'Who was more dominant?' The Yankees get the edge because of what they did earlier in the decade, nearly winning two other titles."
Ah, yes. The old measure of "nearly winning" that is almost always used to determine success in professional sports. The Phillies nearly won this year, so their parade must be scheduled for Saturday. And who could forget those Arizona Cardinals — the "almost" champions — who really gave the Steelers a run for their money in the Super Bowl. History will be sure to remember those teams fondly.
"The team of the '90s is also the team of the '00s," Wells wrote. "Maybe one of these decades the Red Sox finally will surpass the Yankees."
Before reaching that conclusion, Wells spent 350 words or so justifying his exit from Game 5 of the World Series in 2003, a game which Wells' Yankees lost 6-4. He wrote that the loss "doesn't haunt me one bit," which is unlikely, given his desire to write in such detail about it just days after the Yankees won championship No. 27.
But don't forget, Red Sox Nation: You're the bitter ones.