By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Over the top with Beckett and the Red Sox

Josh Beckett

I’ve been listening to a lot of sports radio since it emerged that Josh Beckett golfed despite missing a start with an injury or near-injury or whatever it was, and I just thought I’d throw this out there:

The sports pundits in Boston have gone insane. Some more so than others, of course. Tony Massarotti and Mike Felger of the Sports Hub (98.5 FM) have been completely unhinged, while Michael Holley and Glenn Ordway of WEEI (93.7 FM) have been relatively restrained and coherent.

Overall, though, it’s gotten so ridiculous that hosts were asking callers last night if they would rather have seen Beckett get lit up than pitch the seven innings of shutout baseball that he turned in. And some said yes, damn right, they wish he’d been blown out in an inning or two.

Beckett strikes me — and most of us, I’m sure — as a pretty unlikeable guy. I don’t appreciate the way he answers questions. He was apparently the ringleader of the chicken-and-beer brigade, whose importance has been exaggerated, but which nevertheless was symbolic of a team that wasn’t much of a team. Still, the real story behind the Red Sox’ collapse last September and this spring is staring you in the face: the starting pitching totally melted down. When the starters do well, the Sox win, as we’ve seen this week.

Beckett pitches to the best of his ability (which is still pretty good, if not 2007 good), he doesn’t make excuses and, as he showed on Tuesday, he certainly doesn’t let himself get distracted.

There’s a pattern here. In 2010, Jacoby Ellsbury was injured and misdiagnosed, and the jock punditocracy questioned his heart and toughness. Last year Clay Buchholz fractured vertebrae in his back — think about that for a moment — and got the Ellsbury treatment. For good measure, John Lackey, who, yes, is loathsome in many respects, gave it his all despite needing Tommy John surgery.

Perspective, folks.

Photo (cc) by Keith Allison and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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  1. BP Myers

    Not sure whose passive-aggressive spat I’m enjoying more: Peter Abraham and Eric Wilbur, or David Brooks and Paul Krugman.

    And though I love Abraham, I can’t help but think Stockholm Syndrome is setting in. Hard to believe Sox beatwriters (like him) knew nothing about the frathouse that was (apparently) the Sox clubhouse last year.

    Anyway, yesterday’s Tim Wakefield celebration reminded all of us how fans can and will treat players who make a positive difference both on the field, and in the community.

  2. Paul Rickter

    What’s striking is the Catch-22 of the Beckett situation. If he pitches badly, fans demand he be traded away — but at his salary and performance level, he’s untradeable unless the Red Sox pick up a big chunk of his contract. On the other hand, if he pitches well, like yesterday, then his trade value goes back up. But, to the fair weather fan, his success makes them quickly lose interest in getting rid of him.

    I can’t fathom why a real fan would root for Beckett to be lit up. If one really believes that the team would be better off without him (I’m on the fence — he’s a bit of a jerk, but he clearly knows how to pitch), then you ought to be rooting for him to be pitching GREAT, so his trade value goes way up. And then you really ought to be rooting for the rest of the rotation to be pitching consistently as well as or better than him, so you can afford to part with a proven winner.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Paul: I wonder how many of us would like to spend quality time with any of these players. I suspect Beckett is just more upfront about his jerkiness.

  3. Aaron Read


    There is no PERSPECTIVE when it’s a $200 million dollar payroll and even obstructed-view tickets (until very recently) required a second mortgage to afford.

    When John Henry, et al, stop gouging us all, then I’ll start having perspective.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Aaron: If you want to talk about some of the bad signings the Red Sox made, that’s another topic altogether. But the idea that guys like Beckett are content to make horse’s asses of themselves out there because they have a lot of money is ludicrous. Hilarious: This morning, Gresh or Zolak — don’t know who’s who, but the really loud one — was denying that he’d been on a “witch hunt” against Beckett. Well, good grief, I don’t know what else you’d call it.

  4. I think it is important to note that sports radio hosts are paid to be unhinged.

  5. Sean Griffin

    Steve Carlton was one of the greatest pitchers who ever lived, but I would not want to have a beer with him.

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