June 24, 2011

This Pitch Concerns His Desire To Play

Nine days after his last start, Josh Beckett says he is doesn't feel well. The Red Sox seem to wonder. Terry Francona says "doctors are trying to figure it out". Is there an indisputable disconnect between the team and its unflashy pitcher?

Just wondering: Has Beckett now become to the Sox what "Medical" Bill Cartwright once was to the New York Knicks? Is it Beckett – or Beckout?

In case you missed it – though most didn't – Beckett was unable to start last Tuesday because of a stomach virus. His start was re-scheduled for this Saturday against National League pushovers, the Pittsburgh Pirates. News comes tonight that Beckett is still sick -- maybe he now has the flu -- and he will not be playing this weekend. Supposedly, he may pitch next week.

Before we go any further, we all need to understand something here. This is not solely about this season and about whether Beckett has "intestinal turmoil" or the flu. This goes well beyond that. During his break-out season of 2003 and on into 2004, Becket missed small chunks of time with various assorted ailments, including five stints on the disabled list because of blisters. He came to the Red Sox having earned a reputation of being someone who required a great deal of, well, maintenance.

And he was stubborn as a inbred mule. In his first season with the Red Sox, he willfully ignored the advice of catcher and clubhouse sage Jason Varitek and threw fastball after fastball after fastball, convinced his Texas heat could eventually blow away AL hitters, all the while allowing 36 home runs. After a more successful 2007, Francona spoke of how Beckett was beginning to understand the "responsibility" of playing in the American League East, which was a nice way of saying that Beckett had an obligation to his manager and teammates to maybe mix up his pitches a bit more.

Then came last season, when he had to pitch on a wet mound in New York, an assignment that clearly did not sit well with him. He lost his footing a few times in the muck and injured his back, and you could hear all the camo hats in Camp Kick-Ass groan simultaneously.

Well, if they didn't make him pitch in the rain, he wouldn't be hurt.

Blah, blah, blah.

At the moment, nobody should dispute that Beckett is in some level of discomfort. The greater question concerns if and when he can play through it. Beckett already has said that he expects to deal with the issue of germs all year – an alibi if he pitches poorly, no doubt.

Beckett, of course, is merely 31 and presumably has a healthy immune system. While it is always dangerous to wonder whether players are capable of playing through illness - the Red Sox would be wise to remember the case of Trot Nixon, who once vomited on Luis Sojo at second base – the issue here is clearly much bigger. In the minds of the Sox – and maybe others – Beckett has a reputation, something only he can be responsible for. Last year, sidelined by mononucleosis, Jed Lowrie openly wondered whether he still had a role on the Red Sox, but at least Lowrie's remarks were motivated by the desire to play, something that hardly makes him different from the majority of athletes.

In Beckett's case, the problem seems to be the opposite.

Does he want to pitch or doesn't he?

18 comments:

Rob said...

This is ridiculous. Beckett is an elite pitcher and as such has a firm grasp of his body and its capabilities. You want a JR Richard situation again? He's knows the end goal here and has proven his worth in the post-season. Who cares if he rests a few games in June while we're testing other starters and scoring 10 runs a game against mediocre opponents?

Have you thought that maybe this is a plan by Francona and Theo to get some work in for Lackey, Wakefield, and Miller to determine who we can rely on in October?

This is a CHB-worthy article.

9casey said...

Is this post written by you?

laura k said...

Rob is more sarcasm-challenged than me!

Allan is obviously parodying certain media's treatment of Ellsbury.

laura k said...

Allan, if you don't write a disclaimer and explanation at the end of this... you may get yourself in some trouble.

But knowing you, that's what you want. :)

allan said...

So Nixon didn't puke on Sojo?

(Party-pooper.)

laura k said...

If you didn't want commenters to reveal the joke, you should have said so!

Gareth said...

Brilliant! For the first two paragraphs I was thinking, the man has taken leave of his senses. Then the realization slowly dawned!

9casey said...

I knew it couldn't be true there are only 2 players I think he actually ever ripped on this site,I maybe wrong but Timlin and Tek are the ones Allan takes exception to..

They were both there for 2 world series and contributed , I always thought it had more to do with camouflage shirts and media love , but who knows.

Tom DePlonty said...

I knew what you were up to at the end of the first paragraph. Great post.

blogtard said...

You got me, that's for sure. I was all, "Are you off yer @#$%in' nut?"

allan said...

If you didn't want commenters to reveal the joke, you should have said so!

And said what ... "this is a joke, so if you figure it out, don't spill the beans for awhile"?

allan said...

I knew it couldn't be true there are only 2 players I think he actually ever ripped on this site,I maybe wrong but Timlin and Tek are the ones Allan takes exception to..

"Ever ripped"?

I have bitched about Pedro and Ortiz, so if I've done that, I have likely ripped everyone.

(The Tek stuff is in large part because of the media; also because he was playing like shit.)

laura k said...

They were both there for 2 world series and contributed , I always thought it had more to do with camouflage shirts and media love , but who knows.

9C, are you turning into a troll or what?

laura k said...

And said what ... "this is a joke, so if you figure it out, don't spill the beans for awhile"?

Heh. Yeah, doesn't make much sense.

FenFan said...

Nice job, Allan - you punk'd me on that one. Haha!

9casey said...

laura k said...


9C, are you turning into a troll or what?


Words hurt ya know...............:)

Kathryn said...

I was trying to figure out who wrote this. Even after Allan signed it.

Amy said...

You sure got me. I had no idea this was a joke until the comments. I love Rob's indignation!