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With the collapse of the 2011 Red Sox a week into the past, we can finally begin to rationally decide who to irrationally blame. While I’m all for the torches and pitchforks, one member of the Red Sox is receiving an unfair amount of the heat. Then again, Josh Beckett always has constantly received undeserved criticism throughout his time in Boston. Fans and media alike have no issue expressing their disappointment and hatred for the man. What’s with all the hate for the ace?
Before I go any farther, I’ll say it: In the final games that counted, Josh Beckett did not come through. Despite how good his numbers look (besides wins), he wasn’t good enough. But, no one on the Red Sox was good enough. Without Beckett, this team would have been out of it a long time ago. Give him a break. Jon Lester pitched some absolute stinkers this season and lacks the leadership qualities Beckett possesses. Nevertheless, fans unabashedly love him. Clay Buchholz had a sore back and decided to take a paid vacation. But he’s still a (27-year-old) up-and-comer so it’s cool. Don’t even get me started about John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Beckett stepped up when the rest of this delicate and/or overweight pitching staff backed down. Show some respect.
No one has any problem pointing out Beckett’s nonexistent flaws. They chant 2006, 2008, and 2010. They rip on him for taking too long to pitch. Even the Red Sox insulted him by naming him the fourth starter at the beginning of the year. What about 2007? 2009? 2011? Is winning the World Series irrelevant? For some reason he will never be embraced the way Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling were. It can’t be his abrasive and often standoff-ish personality. He is no where close to the diva Pedro was and he’s a mute compared to Curt Schilling. What gives?
All of this comes back to CC Sabathia. Right before us we have one of the most underrated positional battles in baseball. The ace of the Red Sox and the ace of the Yankees. But this rivalry goes back to 2007, when Sabathia played for
a team no one cares about the Cleveland Indians. Everyone loves Sabathia. Everyone loathes Beckett. It showed in the Cy Young voting that year. Every criticism of Beckett can be said for Sabathia as well, but no one ever says a negative word about the guy.
It’s been said that Beckett gained weight over the season. I guess it’s the (literal) elephant in the room, but if I had to guess, Sabathia still has close to 100 pounds on Beckett. We complain about Beckett’s contract, which is only a fraction the size of Sabathia’s. CC is considered a true winner, yet Beckett has two rings to CC’s big, fat one. If Sabathia drank a beer, the media would say “good for him.” Beckett possibly had a beer or two on off days, so of course he’s a malcontent and belligerent alcoholic. What is it about Sabathia? Is he really charismatic? He let his team down too. It’s not fair.
I wonder how Beckett will be remembered by Boston in twenty years. People have already forgotten the World Series trophy he brought to the city–a milestone only achieved by a small handful of pitchers in Red Sox history. Will it be a completely lost memory by then? After a largely successful season, the fans and media have moronically targeted him and made ridiculous proposals about trading him. They won’t rest until his head is mounted on the wall of John Henry’s totalitarian, propaganda machine. I can already picture our generation in 2031, reminiscing about CC Sabathia, the greatest pitcher of our generation. Josh Beckett? Unfortunately he’ll never compare.