As Josh Beckett left the mound with an injury during Tuesday nights game, he got what he has been receiving and deserving of all season long: a chorus of boos from the Fenway Faithful. Now the question being asked is; was it right? Was it right to boo a player coming off the field with an injury?
My answer in this case: Absolutely.
Beckett has been a consistent disappointment since the SS Red Sox started to take on water last September. Unfortunately for fans, First Class White Trash is apparently allowed to board the life boats first, because both Beckett and John Lackey survived the offseason purges. While numerous people lost their jobs, because Beckett and company didnt feel like acting professionally, Josh continued to simply collect his checks and enjoy his valuable time off.
Some fans and maybe even some front-office members thought that all the vitriol that was sent Becketts way would serve as motivation for the headstrong right-hander. They hoped that maybe this would be something that spurred Beckett to rededicate himself and show up to camp committed to succeed and in shape, much like David Ortiz did.
How wrong they were. What Red Sox fans got instead was a difficult, entitled diva who stubbornly wanted to prove to everyone that he could do things his way. He didnt care that he was, at the very least, partly responsible for sending strength coach Dave Page and manager Terry Francona to the unemployment line. He would eat whatever he wanted, work out as he saw fit and do it without a hint of remorse. So far this season, that attitude and the hubris born from it has blown up in his chubby face.
Fans are now so completely fed up with him that they wanted him & his Casey Donahew Band bottle opener shipped out at the deadline, for pennies on the dollar if need be. The return on that deal didnt matter. It would have been a classic addition by subtraction deal.
So when Josh Beckett wasnt traded and then took the mound yesterday evening, the powder keg was primed and the fuse was just waiting to be lit. The rainy, midweek game would provide no refuge for Beckett either. Pink hats are a lot of things but waterproof isnt one of them, and the nights precipitation washed any fair-weather make up off the face of Red Sox Nation. Only the diehards remained and their almost universal disdain for Beckett is white hot.
So when Beckett gave them the slightest excuse to show their discontent, the loyalists obliged, with relish. A major and obviously catastrophic injury would certainly have drawn a different reaction from those assembled. But back spasms are the type of injury that tend to plague the sloth and doughy, so there should be no remorse given or required. Becketts 18-hole rehab assignment earlier this season rightly denied him any benefit of a doubt. As the saying goes, you reap what you sow and last night Becketts back prompted the harvest.
This wasnt Jets fans cheering as Chad Pennington was injured. Chad Pennington was an obviously game and dedicated player. The numerous injuries he suffered in his career were as serious as his attempts to come back from them. Penningtons play was the only discernible source of discontent for Jets fans and they cheered his injury for the same reasons they retired to Gate D for halftime sexual harassment, because they are unrepentant Cro-Magnons.
The booing Beckett got was a frustrated fan base giving the object of their discontent the reception he deserved because in addition to his numerous other missteps, he had committed the cardinal sin: Not caring. You can suck. You can suck hard. But you better look like you give a crap while doing it. This season, there is no public impression that Beckett cares about anything but his off days. Personally, I dont think Beckett was upset that he had to leave the mound. I bet he was more disappointed that after the game he wouldnt be able to outrun Peter Abraham to his car in the team parking lot.
Josh Beckett shouldnt be a sympathetic figure today. His performance and his attitude have put him front and center in the fans cross hairs. Last nights booing was just a reflection of that. Injury or no injury, the fan bases response was just as unvarnished as Becketts are to the press. Unlike his paycheck or his job security, the vitriol from Red Sox fans is the one thing Beckett has made the old fashioned way this year. He earned it.