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John Lackey is not in a good place

May 12, 2011, 8:45 AM EDT

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Boston Red Sox Getty Images

Before we get into this, I gotta say that the Boston Globe dropped the ball with their “Lackey shellacked” headline this morning.  Wouldn’t “shelLackeyed” have been way better?  What? Don’t look at me like that.

Anyway, John Lackey was simply terrible last night, going down to his third straight defeat after allowing nine runs on nine hits and five walks. He’s now 2-5 with an 8.01 earned run average and has struck out only 19 batters while walking 18.

But more troubling than his performance was his postgame demeanor. His quote — “everything in my life sucks right now” — was rather jarring. Even more jarring was reading in the Globe this morning that Lackey’s wife is fighting breast cancer, which is something I hadn’t seen back in the spring when it was apparently first reported. So, yeah, the pitching issues are not the biggest thing going on in his life at the moment.

A later quote — “I don’t know what the hell happened tonight. I threw the ball way better than last start. I don’t know … I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I don’t know” — makes you wonder if he should even be out there right now, because his head is clearly, and understandably, elsewhere.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - May 12, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    I agree…he shouldn’t be out there right now. I know he is making a zillion bucks, but his head is definitely not in the game right now. I think he should be with his wife and family for the next couple weeks, get his mind back into shape, and try to get fully prepared for the long summer months. Because this isn’t something that is just going to go away any time soon.

    • trevorb06 - May 12, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      Wow Chris. You said something that I can agree with and you were a gentlemen.

      • indaburg - May 12, 2011 at 4:43 PM

        I guess Phillie fans really are going soft… http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/05/12/are-phillies-fans-gasp-going-soft/

        (I agreed with what you said. This poor guy is really going through a lot.)

    • 24missed - May 12, 2011 at 3:26 PM

      Really thoughtful comment. I can’t remember the amount of media attention given to the loss of their child last year, either, but my heart goes out for this guy and his family.

  2. cur68 - May 12, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Know what happened? Darling is what. Several times Lackey threw excellent strikes on the corners and the Ump just acted like he missed it by a mile. Even the Jay’s hitters were a bit surprised at the calls. Does Darling have it in for the Sox or Lackey? Some of those non calls were inexplicable.

    Lackey was forced to throw in the middle of the plate or walk guys. He did a bit of both and got ‘shelLackeyed’ (I like that very much, thank you).

    I have a family friend, a lawyer ironically, who is suffering with breast cancer right now. I can see why he’s so down, but honestly, his pitching was pretty good last night. A fair call or two would have really helped him.

    • kopy - May 12, 2011 at 9:46 AM

      Here’s the strike zone map. http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/zoneTrack.php?month=5&day=11&year=2011&game=gid_2011_05_11_bosmlb_tormlb_1%2F&prevDate=511

      It’s pretty meh. I’ve seen better, but I’ve also seen worse. The strike zone just seems to be kinda high (or just tight on the bottom) and wide with some missed pitches. The worst missed strike of all actually belonged to a Toronto hitter.

      • kopy - May 12, 2011 at 10:17 AM

        *Toronto pitcher

      • deathmonkey41 - May 12, 2011 at 1:54 PM

        That zone map is not colorblind friendly! Absolutely no help to me. No soup for you!

    • banksatdixie - May 12, 2011 at 9:49 AM

      “Does Darling have it in for the Sox or Lackey?”

      Really?? If Lackey establishes the corners early in the game he gets the calls.

      • cur68 - May 12, 2011 at 9:55 AM

        A strike is a strike. “establishing the corners” is in unwritten rule territory.

      • Utley's Hair - May 12, 2011 at 11:57 AM

        “Establishing the corners” is bogus. That’s like letting MJ or LJ hack away and take 5 steps without calling it, but nobody else gets it. The zone is the zone. Call it that way, or bring on Jonny 5’s family.

      • Jonny 5 - May 12, 2011 at 1:16 PM

        We will always get it right. Unless it rains or someone sweats on us.

      • Utley's Hair - May 12, 2011 at 2:09 PM

        I gotcher WD40 right here, Jonny.

    • deathmonkey41 - May 12, 2011 at 1:51 PM

      I think umps are just terrible in general and the fact that the strike zone gets smaller as the game goes on is just ridiculous.

  3. jonirocit - May 12, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    I agree …. Time to pack it in for a bit lackey. Life is short and you are playing a game we all love but that’s the problem … It’s a game and you don’t owe us or the red sox anything . Go home and take care of what’s really important .

  4. wurst2first - May 12, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    I don’t think anyone, even the most boisterous Yankees fan would argue with Lackey taking a quiet trip to the DL right now. Quick, get a doctor who knows his way around ‘mystery ailments.’

    • atlsp - May 12, 2011 at 11:20 AM

      If the Dodgers just put Kuo on the DL with the yips (“anxiety disorder”) then the Sox should have no problem getting Lackey on there with depression. Sounds like the doc could even use these postgame comments in his report.

  5. Panda Claus - May 12, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    Agreed he’s not pitching all that wonderfully, but in three of his five losses Boston has been shutouts. That doesn’t account for the opening day 12-5 loss or the 9-3 defeat last night, nor the fact he gave up 8 ER in one of those three shutouts, but it’s not all his fault.

    Considering everything though, including the fact his team his tied for 3rd or last place, depending on your viewpoint, he probably should be concerned.

  6. wonkypenguin - May 12, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Whether or not it’s diagnosable, he certainly sounds depressed (even if it would just be classified as “adjustment disorder”) and THAT is a more than legitimate reason to head to the DL for a bit. Because your wife struggling with breast cancer is most certainly disabling from a baseball perspective. Makes me feel for the man. Someone on the outside may need to make the decision for him, though, due to the “tough guy” thing….

  7. proudlycanadian - May 12, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    Lackey wasn’t bad last night. After 6 innings, the score was 4 to 3 for Toronto due to a couple of 2 run innings. As one person noted in a separate thread, he was left in the game too long. His result would have looked a lot better if he had been pulled after the 6th inning. In the 7th inning he gave up 5 runs and recorded 2 outs. He threw 118 pitches in the game. He paid the price for Lackey’s poor outing on Tuesday as the pen was tired and Francona was reluctant to replace him early.

    • cur68 - May 12, 2011 at 9:57 AM

      Agree. With the way Wakefield made that knuckle ball dance I don’t see why he didn’t start the 7th.

  8. Jonny 5 - May 12, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    This is what happens to free agents who think they can withstand the stench of being surrounded by bean eaters, without having their Olfactory nerve severed first. Ask Crawford, he’ll tell ya.

  9. frankvzappa - May 12, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    he kept the Sox in the game until Francona left him in too long…its not really a mystery, and considering what has come to light regarding his personal life, he pitched decently for 6…Francona has a habit of leaving guys in too long, and the Sox got blown out because of it…

  10. BC - May 12, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    Didn’t know about what his wife is facing. Give the guy some time away. Boston can get by with Wakefield in Lackey’s spot for a bit.

  11. markfrednubble - May 12, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    Of course Lackey should be given the time and space he needs to put his family first. Seems like everyone gets that.

    But does that make it OK to act like a horrible teammate on the mound, yelling at Carl Crawford for all the world to see when he misjudges a fly ball? Last night’s tantrum was only the latest example of Lackey appearing to be a complete jerk. Since he came to Boston (long before his wife was diagnosed as far as we know) he has whined and winced at his teammates on the field and refused to take responsibility for his performances when he talks to the media. I think he needs a lot of help, beyond just some time away to take care of his family’s challenges.

    • Utley's Hair - May 12, 2011 at 3:41 PM

      Key words: as far as we know. In fact, “we” don’t know what the hell was going on then, nor should we. He/she/they may have been having other problems at the time. In my experience—with no scientific evidence whatsoever, but rather just perspective—crap happens in cycles. These guys, like everybody else for that matter, are human, and their extramural lives do impact their lives on the field and in the clubhouse, just like mine affects me at work, in the car, with friends, etc. Bad days are inevitable—and he’s been dealing with life-altering crap for a good while. His teammates no doubt have been aware of the situation for a while.

      Baseball is ultimately just a game. And the practitioners of that game are human. Humans get down sometimes. As fans, we have to know that latitude is at times necessary. As fellow human beings, empathy would be nice, too.

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