For seven innings last night, John Lackey looked like a Major League pitcher. He recovered nicely from a disastrous first, shutting down the Yankees for the remainder of his start. Yes, it was the B-squad Bombers, but Lackey hasn't shown signs of life since 'Nam. All in all: a huge boost heading into the final series of the year.
And then Lackey reminded us why we can't stand him. I'll get to the juicy stuff in a minute, but first, let's properly acknowledge Lackey's exit from Sunday's game. Tito lifted Lackey following a lead-off single to begin the 7th. And per usual, the pitcher glared. He screamed and cursed and threw a little-league tantrum. A quality starter would have a valid argument; Lackey's pitch count was in the 80's. But, and I cannot stress this enough, YOU DON'T GET THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT IN A MUST-WIN WITH AN ERA OF 6.41, YOU BUM.
To think that the Red Sox have thus far tolerated Lackey's behavior, let alone his pitching, is almost unfathomable. He routinely shows up his fielders--not sometimes, always. Even worse, he acts like he's spinning a no-hitter every time Tito comes to pry the ball from his fat fingers.
I love Francona, and there's certainly value to being a "players' manager," but imagine Bill Belichick in that situation. He wouldn't give one s--t about Lackey's contract. He'd beat the ungrateful prick mercilessly on top of the mound, take a dump in his locker, then tell him to clean it out.
Fast forward to the Sox post-game locker room Sunday night. Out of nowhere, Lackey launches an attack on the Boston media members, accusing them of sending him a "personal text message" just before game time. Here it is if you missed it:
Three hours later, TMZ reported that Lackey has filed for divorce from his wife, Krista, who is currently battling breast cancer. Lackey will certainly get skewered for this in the coming weeks, so not a lot to add except the obvious: The man could be a tremendous asshole. It's not fair to speculate on the problems in the couple's relationship, and we're still waiting on the whole story, but the knee-jerk reaction: Seriously?
Taking a backseat to this news is Lackey's treatment of the local media, who were almost certainly not the guilty parties behind his mystery text message. Following the TMZ report, the source should be fairly evident, and Lackey would be wise to make amends (but probably won't). John, the Boston reporters didn't try to sabotage your biggest start of the year. The Red Sox PR department didn't give away your phone number.
At this point, the only thing binding John Lackey to the Red Sox is one of the most heinous contracts in team history. At least Daisuke has gone quietly. Carl Crawford, while having a disappointing year, has shown signs of a bounce-back 2012 and seems to be an all-around good guy. The roller-coaster JD Drew experiment ends with the season.
Then there's Lackey, who continues to mouth-breath his way toward an infinite ERA and mutual dissatisfaction between him and the Boston community. Maybe he just needs the off-season to regroup and sort out his personal life. Maybe the 2012 Lackey will revert to 2007 form. Or maybe we're stuck paying for three more years of this.