Beckett not apologizing for golfing

Beckett not apologizing for golfing
May 11, 2012, 4:14 am
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What, you were expecting a contrite Josh Beckett?

A sheepish, if-I-had-it-to-do-over-again Josh Beckett?

No such luck.

But this shouldn't be much of a surprise.

Beckett may be evolving as a pitcher, but his personality remains unchanged: defiant, stubborn, and, literally and figuratively, unapologetic.

In other words, if you were expecting some sort of mea culpa, you came to the wrong place. That's not Beckett.

It wasn't Beckett last February when he met with the media for the first time since the chicken-and-beer details were made public last October. And it wasn't Beckett Thursday night in the wake of an embarrassing start against the Cleveland Indians.

Of course, Beckett has had embarrassing starts before. Every pitcher has. But this one came with one added ingredient: spectacularly bad timing.

Many fans were already outraged after a report placed Beckett at an area golf course last Thursday, a day after the Red Sox announced that he would not make his next scheduled start, slated for Saturday.

The Sox reasoned that Beckett was experiencing some soreness in his lat muscle, and was skipping a start as a precaution.

Ever since, the Red Sox have attempted to nuance that explanation to death, with manager Bobby Valentine claiming twice this week that, well, technically, Beckett wasn't really injured, but was merely suffering from a physical issue.

And it strains credulity that the Sox would have, as has been theorized in some parts, skipped Beckett for the sole purpose of mollifying Aaron Cook, who forced his way onto the roster a week ago thanks to an opt-out in his contract.

Either way, the club publicly introduced the notion that Beckett wasn't 100 percent, and now, both the Sox and the pitcher himself have to live with that explanation, however tortured it has become.

Beckett had to know that he would be asked about the golf outing, and sure enough, after a few questions about his outing, they came at him.

He was not unprepared, either. In what sounded suspiciously like a rehearsed answer not unlike a politician delivering a made-for-TV soundbite in a debate Beckett stated defiantly: "I spend my off-days the way I want to spend them."

When another question was posed, asking whether he could understand how fans might react, Beckett was ready again: "My off-day is my off-day."

Not long after, he mentioned that major league teams have just 18 off-days per season, and they were his to spend as he wished.

"I think we deserve a little bit of time to ourselves," said Beckett.

Here, of course, Beckett is being more than a little disingenuous. No one is suggesting that players don't have the right to some recreation. What doesn't pass the smell test, however, is the timing, coming as it did when he was being ruled out of his next start, just two days after tee time.

It was the same logic that Beckett used when he attempted to explain his poor performance last September by mentioning that his wife was expecting the couple's first child and he wasn't about to misplace his priorities.

No one was suggesting that, naturally. But many athletes possess the ability to be good point guards, left wings, tight ends and starting pitchers, while still acting as good husbands and fathers.

It's not, as Beckett suggested, an either-or-proposition.

Beckett's insistence that he did nothing wrong is merely one more invitation to fans to tune the Red Sox out. It's one thing for a team to under-perform and another thing entirely to come off as distinctly unlikeable.

In his first press conference this spring, Beckett did acknowledge that the Sox had to earn back the trust of the fans after last fall's collapse and ensuing unsavory tales from the clubhouse.

But with a chance to do so, Beckett stumbled even more than he did on the mound hours earlier.