If you'd like to read an anti-Josh Beckett column today, you could do a lot worse than ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. See, some poor reporter had the temerity to ask Beckett about his now-infamous golf outing -- you know, the one two days before he missed his last start with tightness in one of those muscles most of us don't have -- and Beckett didn't respond with an excessive amount of grace. Essentially, he said he gets "18 off-days a year" and if you don't like what he does on those off-days, you can go ... well, you know.
Just a bit of Edes:
Let's start with "18 off days a year." That's how many Dustin Pedroia gets in the course of a season. Not Josh Beckett or any other starting pitcher. Many of them play golf as many days as they can between starts. Former Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, who beat Beckett on Thursday night for Cleveland, said he plans to golf Friday.
And the true extent of his tone deafness was that for most people hearing or reading his words, the immediate response is: 18 days? What about the 3½ months after the season, or 4½ months if you blow a certain playoff spot and don't play in October?
... Josh Beckett is paid $15.75 million. If he makes 32 starts in the course of a season, that means he is paid $492,187.50 per start. Is it so egregious to have to answer a question or two about the wisdom of golfing when you're supposedly too hurt to pitch? Or to concede that perception does matter and when people are desperately looking for a reason to fall back in love with this team after last summer's fiasco, you have to be sensitive to those perceptions?
That's not the way Josh Beckett sees it.
Let me offer just a couple of thoughts in Josh Beckett's defense.
One, we can't say with any certainty that Josh Beckett doesn't care. All we can say is that he doesn't seem to care. Which, yes, does matter. It's just easier to run a baseball team when everyone seems to be pulling on the same end of the rope.
Two, Beckett might not be the same pitcher -- the good pitcher he used to be, I mean -- if divorced from his I'm-Josh-Beckett-and-go-f-yourself-if-you-don't-like-it attitude. When the Red Sox committed $68 million to Beckett, they must have had a pretty good idea of what they were getting, both pitching- and attitude-wise.
It's fair to point out, though, that since signing that four-year, $68 million contract in the spring of 2010, Beckett's won only 21 games and managed to really annoy Gordon Edes. To some degree, this is about poor management as much as it's about Beckett's poor judgment.