Any Red Sox fans expecting a mea culpa -- or even a simple explanation -- from Josh Beckett for playing golf while unable to make his regularly scheduled start or pitch in the recent 17-inning marathon must be new here. Because a simple, “Yeah, not a smart move,” or even the, “Sorry if I offended anyone with my dumb-ass action,” that’s so popular among professional athletes these days is simply not in Beckett’s DNA.
Instead, the meatball-tossing right-hander with a 2-4 record and 5.97 ERA put his $15.75 million aching back up against the wall and seemingly morphed from a not-so-likable Josh Becket into a loathsome John Lackey in the course of Thursday night’s post-stink bomb of a game press conference.
This, from ESPN.com’s Gordon Edes, a veteran Sox reporter, about how Beckett responded to the media about whether last week’s golf had any impact on Thursday night’s outing -- a performance that included only 2-1/3 innings, seven earned runs and two four-baggers (five, if you include the fan behind home plate wearing a sack of the paper variety over his head):
Edes: Did the golf business have any impact on how you pitched?
Beckett: None. None.
E: Anything to say about the golf business?
B: No. I spend my off days the way I want to spend them.
E: Any regrets?
B: My off day is my off day.
E: Given that you were skipped a start with what was described as a tight lat muscle, do people have the right to question why you were golfing?
B: Not on my off day.
E: Do you understand the perception that leaves when the team is playing as poorly as it is?
B: We get 18 off days a year. I think we deserve a little time to ourselves.
Ah yes, the dulcet tones of the former ace defiantly refusing to accept his share of blame for a Sox team that -- in terms that Beckett the duffer might understand -- duck-hooked last season so far off the fairway that it’s still trying to hack its way out of an unplayable lie.
Despite Beckett's weight gains, which may have contributed to his frequent injuries, fans gave the pitcher a pass -- until the fried chicken and beer fiasco last September and his refusal at the start of this season to address it, as some players did. In fact, so obsessed is he still with finding the snitch who ratted out him, Lackey and their cohorts for their Popeyes and Miller Lite parties, perhaps he was on the golf course last Thursday searching for the dirty rat.
Certainly, what ballplayers do on their off-days should be their business (with obvious caveats), and perhaps if Beckett were a more stand-up guy, fans and the media would be more forgiving of him for hitting the links even though he was unable to take the mound.
For now, the Sox brass -- clueless about how one of its prized hurlers was supposedly resting and rehabbing his sore lat muscle -- will apparently continue to enable Beckett’s bad behavior.
“I’ve never seen a pitcher get hurt playing golf,” manager Bobby Valentine said before last night’s 8-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians. The Red Sox have lost 11 of their last 12 at Fenway Park and eight of nine in May. No mention of what potential harm playing 18 could to to a pitcher who already had a bad back
Really, the whole issue has nothing to do with golf, which became a convenient scapegoat for all that ails Beckett and the Sox. But the image of a defiant, washed-up pitcher swinging a golf club when he could have been resting his sore back for the greater good of a team struggling to fight its way out of the cellar is the one that will stick.
And does it really matter that “Bombs Away” Beckett played golf when he could have been giving his sore muscles a break? Nah, the guy’s career has clearly jumped the shark, and if he were a pro golfer instead of a supposedly professional baseballer, he would have missed so many cuts by now that he and his tweaked lats would be back in the minors.
Oh, about the guy with the bag over his head? Jon O’Hara told 98.5 The Sports Hub Friday morning he was incognito in the second row behind home plate because “I don’t recognize this Red Sox team, so I don’t want them to recognize me.”
Must be one of those “smart fans” Beckett referred to in his presser last night when he acknowledged that he pretty much sucked.
#FreeTheBagGuy, by the way, became quite the Twitter sensation and was trending in Boston in the early innings of last night’s game.