How To Survive The Josh Beckett Melodrama

Josh Beckett is an anomaly. Never has a player been both so loved and so hated during his time in Boston. Sure, guys like Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon were heroes turned villains because they skipped town to play for the Yankees, but there has never been a player that was so polarizing DURING his stay at Fenway. Beckett is one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time, winning 2 World Series trophies (including the 2007 Red Sox win in which Beckett was the ALCS MVP). So it seems strange to see him booed off the mound at America’s most beloved ballpark. Of course Beckett’s behavior in late 2011- early 2012 has been less than commendable…but let’s try to find a silver lining in the Josh Beckett cloud before it starts raining Budweiser… Lest we forget, Beckett was arguably the best pitcher in the AL during the first half of 2011. At the 2011 All-Star break, Beckett was holding opponents to a Major League best .178 batting average with the second lowest ERA in the American League (2.12). Perhaps the “Texas Tough Guy”, as he is known to sarcastic Beckett-bashers, simply gave up halfway through 2011 and started crushing chicken and beer in the clubhouse instead of focusing on his game. Or maybe Beckett was living this lifestyle all along and it never would have been an issue if the team hadn’t flunked out in September. No one would defend ingesting fried poultry during games or golfing when you’re supposedly too hurt to pitch, but would Red Sox Nation REALLY be THAT upset about Beckett’s behavior if the team was winning? The 2011 collapse was a result of many factors, Josh Beckett’s slumping performance being just one of them. The same could be said about the club’s rocky 2012 start. Watching Beckett get booed off the mound at Fenway after Golf Gate was pretty depressing, but as the adage goes, baseball season is a marathon not a sprint. If this were a round of golf, the Red Sox would be on the the 3rd hole out of 18. Can Beckett right the ship in time to save the round? Nobody knows. However, if fans keep a level head, stay patient and watch the season unfold they may see a brighter side of Josh Beckett. Many Sox supporters would like to chase the Texas Tough Guy out of town, but his massive contract ($17mil/season through 2014), age (31) and attitude (must I elaborate?) make him unattractive trade bait. So grit your teeth and bare it, Red Sox fans. Keep telling yourself that the Josh Beckett of early 2011 is going reemerge eventually. After all, it was only a year ago that he was befuddling hitters with All-Star stuff.

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