All year-long inside the Kenmore Station T-stop, just steps from Fenway Park, a Josh Beckett poster of FatHead size proportions greeted and waved goodbye to daily commuters. Constantly and consistently, the “poster boy” of the 2011 Red Sox debacle pointed out the embarrassment. That same glare used to intimidate batters during his six plus years in Boston served as a giant cement reminder,seemingly frozen in history.
So, it was almost a sign from the baseball gods when the poster was removed and replaced with Boston ace Jon Lester just hours before the Game 1 of the World Series. or maybe Buzzblog’s Paul McNamara. Either or.
But, regardless of the details behind the removal, it served a more important purpose. It meant that final chapter of the embarrassing “Chicken and Beer” saga was over. And as if Bostonians needed further approval of this, the Sox captured celebrated their first World Series at Fenway Park since 1918 on Wednesday night.
Beckett, the alleged ringleader of delinquency in the Red Sox locker room two years ago, is long gone from Beantown. After being traded in a mega blockbuster deal to the Los Angeles Dodgers, it almost seems like he unceremoniously retired with how little his name is mentioned. Since the trade, Beckett has battled injuries and gone 2-8 for the Dodgers since arriving. Truth be told, the cocky 33 year-old right-hander virtually played no role in this year’s Los Angeles resurgence.
Ironically, the last two starting pitchers for the Red Sox in this year’s World Series, Jon Lester and John Lackey, were the purported Beckett cronies. They were the Rover Gill’s to Beckett’s Scott Fargas. But, in a complete heel turn, they both looked like utterly professional “starting pitchers”. Lester recorded miniscule pitching numbers that could only be examined by Professor Frink, while Lackey’s makeover from follower to Tommy-John damaged goods to World Series champ culminated last night.
Beckett, the odd man out, could presumably only watch.
I say presumably because it was one of his cherished off days. Rememeber, he told us, “I spend my off days the way I want to spend them”. The same stubbornness and intimidation that helped him achieve such pitching greatness also became his downfall in Boston. It was always about Josh and Josh was never wrong.
This year, almost a full 365 days, after the trade, Beckett reflected on the nasty goodbye from Fenway. ”It just got way too personal for me,” Beckett said. ”I think everybody from the front office to the players recognized that, we’ve moved on and now here I am.” Thousands of miles away on another coast, it still wasn’t Beckett’s fault. And all the nastiness floated around with his name attached, well apparently that wasn’t true either. He was simply the victim of the media once again. ”Completely fabricated. That I was in there causing all kinds of problems”, Beckett said. “It was completely fabricated, and I don’t think one story ever came out about that being true but somehow that continued to be true.”
It’s never Beckett’s fault. Despite the Boston Globe bombshell, the dip in numbers, and downright miserable aura surrounding him and his attitude, it was never Beckett’s fault.
Down to the bitter end, Beckett still exemplifies the same stubbornness and rotten vibe his once discarded T-station poster did. Now, the only difference is the Red Sox and Boston have moved on in more ways than one.
- Ben Reiter: Lackey, latest unlikely hero, delivers unexpected title to Red Sox (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Boston’s Jon Lester World Series Stats Are Downright Filthy (redticketblues.com)
- Worst to first: Sox beat Cards, win World Series (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)