Scott Cordischi On Sports: John Not Verlander’s Lackey
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Sometimes real life can be more unbelievable than fiction.
Exhibit A is Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey. Just two years ago, Lackey was the bane of Red Sox Nation’s existence. Coming off of a season where he posted a career-worst 6.41 earned run average, Red Sox management was being crucified by the fans and media that cover the team for having wasted $82.5 million on a 5-year deal with him the year before.
Even worse for Lackey was the fact that he was outed as one of the “beer & chicken” brigade members in September of 2011 making him public enemy #1 in these parts. But a strange thing happened over the next two years, something no one could have imagined.
After it was announced that Lackey would need Tommy John surgery in his pitching elbow in October 2011, he missed the entire 2012 campaign.
Essentially out-of-sight, out-of-mind in 2012, an unrecognizable Lackey reported to Fort Myers, Florida in February of 2013. New manager John Farrell proclaimed that Lackey had shed 12-15 pounds which was clearly underselling his pitcher. The new slim and trim Lackey appeared ready to get down to the business of pitching like the solid starter Boston expected him to be when they originally signed him.
Despite a losing record of (10-13) this season, Lackey pitched extremely well having finished the regular season with a very respectable 3.52 ERA. His problem was that he received little or no run support in many of his starts which was simply bad luck on his part. But he didn’t let that deter him.
In game 2 of the ALDS against Tampa, Lackey did receive run support from the Major League’s top-producing offense and rode an average performance (5 1/3 IP 4 R) to a victory. That okay performance may have led to his being pushed back to game 3 of the American League Championship Series where he had the unfortunate task of facing Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander in Detroit.
Verlander had been pitching better than anyone in baseball leading into that game Tuesday and all of the talk was about his dominance. That seemed to motivate Lackey.
In a game where very few gave him and the Red Sox a chance, Lackey not only went pitch-for-pitch with one of baseball’s best starters, he outpitched Verlander leading Boston to a stunning 1-0 win in game 3 of the ALCS.
He may not have that great personality that will give fans a warm and fuzzy feeling about him, nor did he take well to being pulled from the game in the 7th. But, make no mistake about it, John Lackey and his bulldog mentality is now the pitcher we thought the Red Sox were getting when they signed him back in 2010. Go figure!
-Let me be the first to admit that I, like John Lackey, was swearing at manager John Farrell for taking him out with two down in the 7th of game three. Those expletives became more pronounced when Craig Breslow walked the first batter he faced. But, let’s give Farrell his due. The move worked as most of his have this season. It’s a far cry from the Bobby Valentine days.
-Win or lose in the ALCS or World Series, this 2013 Boston Red Sox team has been the most enjoyable team to watch in my lifetime. Yes, the 2004 Sox broke the 86-year championship drought and pulled off a miraculous comeback from 3-0 down to the Yankees in the ALCS, but the camaraderie and the ability to perform in the clutch from this year’s team is something I have never seen before. This clearly seems to be a team where all 25 guys genuinely like one another and it shows. These bearded Bostonians have captured the hearts of all of Red Sox Nation and beyond.
-So now word is that the Patriots leading tackler for the past five seasons – Jerod Mayo is out for the season. What’s next? The water boy suffers a season-ending injury?
-Why Colts’ owner Jim Irsay would belittle Peyton Manning (you can read his comments here) is beyond me. Start with the fact that NO player has meant more to that franchise than Manning who made them one of the premier NFL franchises for more than a decade and won a Super Bowl. Secondly, Manning and the Broncos visit the Colts in Indianapolis Sunday. If Irsay had another brain, he’d have one!
-I think I speak for all Patriots fans when I pose the following question: Isn’t is great to see anguish on the face of a Ryan? Whether it’s Rex, Rob or, back in the day, father Buddy, there’s nothing quite like seeing them look like they just swallowed a bottle of castor oil.
-Speaking of Rex Ryan, did you see where he said the Jets would beat the Patriots this Sunday if the fans bring it at MetLife Stadium? That’s funny! I didn’t realize that it was the fans who would be quarterbacking the Jets’ offense. I thought it was Geno Smith and his 10 interceptions (3rd worst in the NFL) that would be leading the Jets’ O. Sometimes, make that all of the time, the man just doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut! Open mouth, insert wife's foot! Sorry Rex!
-In case you didn’t already know this, the Boston Celtics are going to be bad this year. Very bad!
-Which should not be the case for the Boston Bruins who appear to be as good as any team in the NHL at the moment.
-Speaking of hockey, while I love the NHL, you have to admit that what we see during the regular season pales in comparison to what we see during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In watching some of the first few games, the speed, the intensity and the checking is nothing like the postseason.
-So Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera thinks that he can beat Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one? Really? I’m no betting man like Jordan, but I’ll take out a loan to place everything I have on MJ in this one.
-A Red Sox-Dodgers World Series would be delicious for all of the side stories and subplots that would accompany it. However, with St. Louis up 3-1 on LA, it does not appear that this match-up is in the cards.
-Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub may be having a miserable season, but cheering him when he gets injured is classless at best.
-If you’re looking for a great take this Saturday, head over to Brown Stadium. The Bears host Ivy League rival Princeton under the lights at 6pm on a game that will be nationally televised by Fox College Sports. The tailgating starts at 3:30pm. Join the fun!