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John Lackey isn’t doing himself any favors with Boston media

Jun 23, 2011, 1:18 PM EDT

lackey face Getty Images

John Lackey has certainly pitched poorly enough with the Red Sox that fans and media members would be extremely tough on him anyway, but he also didn’t help matters in last night’s postgame dealings with reporters.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe describes the scene, which started with Lackey replying “I don’t know, you guys are going to write what you want to write, whatever” to a question about gripping his pitches:

And that was that after 15 seconds of uncomfortable silence. The entire press conference lasted about 90 seconds. … None of those questions were antagonistic. To be honest, they were pretty much softballs. Answering questions in that fashion will only serve to make a tough season even harder on him. …

Lackey has 3.5 years left on his contract and they’re going to be brutal ones if he can’t come to grips with the atmosphere here. Whether it’s a teammate, his pitching coach, his manager or even Theo Epstein, somebody needs to get through to Lackey. This is headed down a road nobody wants to be on, least of all him.

Abraham also notes that Lackey chose to sign with the Red Sox as a free agent, presumably knowing what the media scrutiny in Boston is like to some degree. He obviously didn’t expect to begin his Red Sox career with a 5.06 ERA through 44 starts and I’m sure most people would react similarly if questioned about their poor job performance on a daily basis, but then again answering questions from reporters is part of what he signed up for to get $82.5 million for five years and he certainly hasn’t earned that money on the field so far.

  1. IdahoMariner - Jun 23, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    He also likely didn’t expect to begin his career with a wife who has cancer, so maybe there is more going on with him than the fact that the media wants him to answer their questions at a time when nothing in his life is going the way he expected.

  2. uyf1950 - Jun 23, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    As a Yankees fan, this reminds me of Randy Johnson coming to the Yankees. If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen.

    • screename529 - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:17 PM

      Coming from a fellow Yankees fan, people like you are why people hate Yankees fans.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 23, 2011 at 3:45 PM

        I assume he’s referring to the RJ/Reporter shoving incident, because it’s definitely not performance based. RJ pitched very well the first year (terrible in playoffs), and not good in the second. But the guy was 57 years old so what did they expect.

      • phukyouk - Jun 23, 2011 at 3:49 PM

        explain please? i dont see anything wrong with what UYF said.

      • uyf1950 - Jun 23, 2011 at 4:19 PM

        church, that’s exactly what I was referring to. Johnson’s relationship with the NY media was never really smooth.

        screename529, I’m sorry you feel that way. But I learned a long time ago you can’t please everyone, so I don’t try to. I guess I will just have to count you among one of my detractors.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jun 23, 2011 at 4:40 PM

        explain please? i dont see anything wrong with what UYF said.

        Because it can be interpreted in two ways:
        1. If you don’t want to deal with the media, then don’t come here (Bos/NY). Because the media in these places are utter scum who love nothing more than to tear people down.

        2. If you don’t want to deal with the high expectations the fans put on you, don’t come here (Bos/NY).

        Bringing up RJ was a case study in the difference between the two. He pitched really well in his first year, but did a terrible job dealing with the media including the incident with the reporter.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Jun 23, 2011 at 7:02 PM

      Johnson had a pretty solid first year with the Yanks and even at his worse he was nowhere near as bad as lackey has been this year

  3. lardin - Jun 23, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Part of me thinks Lackey wanted no part of pitching in Boston. He only came to Boston because His wife is from New England and is really sick. He was probably thinking he would make his wife’s life easier by being near her family and he would just suck it up for a few years. It was Lackey who sought the Red Sox, not the other way around..

    • ditto65 - Jun 23, 2011 at 1:37 PM

      That might be true – if she had been diagnosed before he signed with Boston. And if they hadn’t spent the off season in California so she could get treatment.

      • Utley's Hair - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:18 PM

        So, I guess what you’re saying is that it’s not true?

    • trevorb06 - Jun 23, 2011 at 3:06 PM

      I’d like to think the 80+ million is why he went to Boston. No matter where you live that kind of coin can buy a lot of treatment and a lot of really good treatment at that.

      • whatgoesup1 - Jun 23, 2011 at 3:56 PM

        I think it’s more like $40M.

        Either way Lackey isn’t fit mentally and/or physically to pitch anymore on the Boston stage. He either needs to retire or go to Pawtucket.

        Believe me, it’s understandable. I would be a wreck too.

      • trevorb06 - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:19 PM

        ‘but then again answering questions from reporters is part of what he signed up for to get $82.5 million for five years and he certainly hasn’t earned that money on the field so far.’

        And right now he ain’t mentally fit to pitch on ANY stage. There’s nothing more special about the Boston stage than the Anaheim stage. No matter what stage he is on he’s still going to think about his ailing wife all the same. He doesn’t need to retire but I think he does need to take a leave of absense to be with his wife and help control the demons he has in his life right now.

  4. stoankold - Jun 23, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    A friend of mine said “I wish he needed Tommy John”. The intent here is not to wish him harm but for him to be away from the mound. I see no reason at this point (other than his contract), given the situation with his wife, that he should even be trying to play baseball. Find some way to get him a leave of absence or something and let him get his life back on track.

    • bobwsc - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:39 PM

      that wish was used up on Dice-K

  5. roverboy1949 - Jun 23, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    He should be with his wife at a time like this. He obviously isn’t concentrating on his game, although he wasn’t that great before she was diagnosed. There are things more important than a game, even if you are making $82 million.There must be some exception in the rule to place him on the disable list. The Red Sox need to deal with him soon, for his own well being, and that of the team.

  6. CliffC - Jun 23, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    While I am sure Lackey is in the wrong here, Pete Abe loves stirring things like this up.

  7. tekton8 - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    I feel for him, I really do, but he needs to demonstrate some professionalism here. The fans and media have been pretty understanding of Lackey’s poor performance ever since the news of his wife was leaked. However, If you repeatedly act like a jerk in this town you will get torched… no exceptions.

  8. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    It seems like it might be in everyone’s best interest if Jon takes a sabbatical for the rest of the year. He can afford to miss the paychecks and the Sox could certainly replace his current level of production pretty easily.

    BTW, please revise this article. All articles about Lackey are required to use the word ‘bulldog’ at least once and reference the 2002 World Series. It’s like Victorino and “Hawaiian.” It’s a rule.

  9. Utley's Hair - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Lackey needs to sit down with Theo and Francona to figure out whether he needs to step back to take help his wife. If he decides to stay and pitch, then he needs to accept the criticism. If he decides to step back, then the press needs to leave him alone.

  10. ditto65 - Jun 23, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    The problem with the “Stay home and care for his wife” scenario is that, often times, there is nothing he can do to make anything better. He feels worse for not being able to do anything, and she feels worse for taking him away from his job which, it’s not inconceivable, could turn around and become a bright spot in both their lives.

    I say this not as a cold-hearted jerkface, but as a two time cancer survivor who urged his wife to go to work so she could have at least one “normal” part of her day. However, she refused to leave me home alone and bought me a dog. Smart Lady.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:49 PM

      I certainly don’t know what is best for him and his family, but he seems to be having a meltdown every time he pitches. I don’t think that is helping the situation at home or the Red Sox.

  11. nyyankeefanforever - Jun 23, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    Yes, I ‘m a Yankee fan and so am sure my take on Lackey here will be roundly dismissed and flamed accordingly. Be that as it may:

    I recall when Lackey became a free agent and a number of teams — my Bombers and the Mets among them — were seriously pursuing him. The NY media at the time ran many background stories documenting his history of volatile on-field and off-field antics going back to his high school and college days.

    They also specificially had the Texas native quoted many times as expressing disdain for the East Coast in general, and that it was a sore spot between him and his New England-born wife who preferred the East. The NY media also pointed out that the AL East team he had the most success against was the Red Sox, and the prevailing debate at the time was whether that specific upside performance trait negated his truculent demeanor, histrionic antics and glaringly mediocre to poor numbers versus the rest of our division. The general consensus was he’d make a better NL pitcher than an AL one. Ultimately, by his own admission, the dollars and his wife’s wishes prevailed.

    I think it’s horrible what he and his wife are going through together. However, his particular personality disorders — and his less than stellar track record against Eastern teams — were well-documented long before his wife became ill. So I’m afraid if anyone’s to blame for his wretched situation in Boston it would have to be the Boston front office guys.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 23, 2011 at 5:14 PM

      “…the AL East team he had the most success against was the Red Sox…”

      I’m too lazy to look it up, but I do remember he had absolutely HORRIBLE numbers in Fenway with the Angels, which made me think it was curious that he chose to make it his home park. I do recall watching a game on TV when he was getting smacked around by the Red Sox in Fenway. The camera got a close up on his face after he coughed up a gopher and we could read his lips clear as a bell as he said “Fruck this place” minus the ‘r’.

  12. deathmonkey41 - Jun 23, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Ugh, I’m tired of people with the “his wife has cancer” excuse. He was an a-hole before his wife ever got sick. He’d be having these same problems regardless. Yes, I know I’m a cold-hearted a-hole too. Blah, blah, blah. Grow up- some people are just d#cks- that’s why Lackey is the way he is.

  13. dirtyharry1971 - Jun 23, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    I think what i like the most about Lackey is his velocity is going down AND he’s making big bucks AND the redsuks have this clown signed for “3” ( count them) “3” MO years baby!! Now thats Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!!

  14. haroldb1234 - Jun 23, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    lackey was not ready physically or mentally in camp and is not mentally in control of his game now. he has not had an effective out pitch this season, and has been unable to locate pitches in most games, especially in ‘must locate’ situations. the proof of this was when he yelled at carl crawford for ‘missing’ a tough catch before lackey went on the dl. i don’t think lackey can win this year given many variables in his pitching and attitude so far. i doubt another team will want him or his contract, so theo is stuck with him, but need not pitch him, which hurts the team. i’d send him to pawtucket for a three weeks to work on an out pitch and adjust his attitude (and maybe work out family issues). if he is a professional he will volunteer to do it and see if he can help the team at the end of july. his fastball is still in the 90s so his problems are not physical. time for both theo and lackey to do gut checks if lackey is to help this team.

  15. pisano - Jun 24, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    In that picture he looks like Gomer Pyle.

  16. sawxalicious - Jun 24, 2011 at 7:08 AM

    I think Lackey is between a rock and a hard place…we’ve seen that he has the talent to be an above average pitcher…maybe he was a d**k earlier in his career, but with his wife’s medical issues, I would say learning to be a “nice guy” at work is not high on his priority list right now, nor would I necessarily blame him. Yeah, he’s making 80+ million to do a job I’d do for free, but at the end of the day, he goes home to a place where his wife’s present condition is painful and whose future may not be bright. The best thing would be for him to be traded to a different team without such a bright spotlight on him such as Oakland, K.C. or Pittsburgh. I know that when things are going crappy in my personal life, I’m able to do my job better when I don’t have any one second-guessing all my work or a boss micro-managing me. Unfortunately for him, his contract makes that impossible. If things continue they way they are going, he and Boston will be miserable with each other for the next few years.

  17. dirtyharry1971 - Jun 25, 2011 at 2:03 AM

    i think the Lackey signing was the best free agent signing ever by the baston redsuks, i know its been my favorite so far so lay off john and enjoy the train wreck!!!

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