Friday, May 11, 2012
JOSH BECKETT AND HIS '18 DAYS OFF'
If there was a movement in Boston to protest the 1 percent, there's little doubt it'd be titled,
"Occupy Beckett's Head." At $17 million a year, Josh Beckett rests in a tax-bracket for only the
elite or grossly overpaid (Carl Crawford) in baseball. Players get 12 paychecks a year and even
that 4-year old kid who was sucking on his mom's boob for Time magazine can tell you that
comes out to over one million dollars every two weeks. For the average working class person,
(the 99 percent) that's like winning the lottery a dozen times a year.
After getting whacked around like a pinata in 2.1 innings of 'work' on Thursday night, Beckett
looked like John Edwards getting grilled on the witness stand about his $400 haircuts. He was
getting peppered by the sour Boston media about playing golf before missing a start with an
alleged injury. With each question Beckett grew more defiant. It appeared that steam was coming
out of Beckett's ears and he wanted to take the microphone of every reporter and stick it
where the sun doesn't shine.
Beckett claimed his golf outing had nothing to do with the odoriferous performance he gave
against the Indians on the Thursday night. But when he delivered the line that is surely to be
etched in the memory of every member of Red Sox nation, ("We get 18 days off a year. I think
we deserve a little time to ourselves") the "Occupy Beckett's Head" movement went into full
effect: What the hell was he thinking? What is going on inside the dome of the mighty righty? Beckett morphs into A.J. Burnett on the mound, giving up seven earned runs in just over two
innings and he defends himself and his golf outing by saying, "We get 18 days off a year. I
think we deserve a little time to ourselves."
Beckett appeared to be so flippant and oblivious to the one thing that really matters to the fans
in Boston: caring. If a player doesn't care in Atlanta, Tampa Bay, or San Diego, it's not a big
deal because the fans in those passionless baseball towns don't care, either. The Red Sox are
religion in Boston. Baseball is everything in that town and if the fans sense that you don't care
about the game, then they'll never let you forget it. After that performance during the game and
in the press conference, Red Sox fans will be bring their five-irons to Fenway for every one of
his starts to tee off on him.
I'm sure over the next few days Beckett will backtrack and offer a few thinly-veiled, "my bads",
but the damage has been done and his reputation has reached the depths of John Lackey, his
drinking and chicken wing eating buddy who is collecting a cool $15 million as he sits out
the entire year recovering from elbow surgery.
As for Beckett and his 18 days off a year. In his previous six seasons with the Red Sox,
Tiger Beckett has averaged about 30 starts a year. That is 30 work days during a six month
season. He is only counted on by the Red Sox, who will pay him more than $100 million
when it's all said and done, to work 30 days. That's it, that's all. Then he goes home for four
months before he reports back to spring training.
The baseball season is a brutal grind that can wear players out. But Beckett is not a player,
he is a pitcher. He performs once every five days and then gets to play all the golf he wants
in that "free time he deserves." Most pitchers play a lot of golf during the season, that's just
a fact. Those who pitch once a week that play in Arizona, San Diego, Atlanta, and L.A.
often play every day except on the day that they pitch.
Beckett did it after missing a start because of an injury and didn't really seem to care how
it was perceived, or care at all, for that matter. I'm not a big fan of the saying, "perception is
reality", but not caring is how Beckett is perceived as in Boston, and that's going to be hard
for him to shake.