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Josh Beckett: “I spend my off days the way I want to spend them”

May 11, 2012, 8:21 AM EDT

Josh Beckett Getty Getty Images

After Josh Beckett got shellacked by the Indians last night he faced the press. Not surprisingly, the press asked him about the golf-between-starts-despite-maybe-having-a-bad-back thing.  Beckett politely — but defensively — told the press to mind its own business when it comes to his free time:

“I spend my off days the way I want to spend them,” he said. “My off day is my off day. We get 18 off days a year. I think we deserve a little bit of time to ourselves.”

Then, when asked about the Fenway fans booing him off the field, he brought the honesty:

“It was directed at me,” Beckett said. “I pitched like sh**. That’s what happens. Smart fans.”

Yup.

And while this will no doubt bring forth five days of people criticizing Beckett’s golf habits, the fans don’t boo and this isn’t a big deal if Beckett simply pitches well.  That’s the problem here.  Not “the perception problem,” as John Tomase puts it in this Boston Herald article.  Just as no one would have given a rip about beer and chicken if the Sox hadn’t sucked on the field last September, no one cares about the golf if Beckett gets outs.

In other words, what fixes “perception problems” is not pitching like sh**.

  1. mjay424 - May 11, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Agree. 100 percent.

    Fans will overlook everything, small and big, at least eventually, if an athlete produces at a high level on the field.

    • paperlions - May 11, 2012 at 8:54 AM

      It isn’t that fans will overlook things, it is that fans will find any excuse to criticize when players aren’t playing well. There is a near zero chance that Beckett playing golf once affected his performance, he was sucking before that, too. Rather than just accept that a player is struggling, fans/media seem to need to find some narrative-based fabrication to justify the suckage….sometimes, players just suck. It isn’t like Becket t has been a paragon of consistency throughout his career.

      • Kevin Gillman - May 11, 2012 at 1:44 PM

        Paperlions, I think the PROBLEM is he says he has a bad back, so they skip his start. Fine, but then he golfs two days later? That’s the problem right there. If you say you have a bad break, then take care of the problem so when it’s your time to pitch, you show up and do your best. I am not a Red Sox fan by any means, I am an Indians fan, but I understand why the media is making this a big deal. If he does indeed have a back problem, then the golfing certainly affected it, even just a little bit. Imagine how much you move your neck, by putting your head down, and swing the club, move your head up to follow the ball. I just think he let the teammates down, first and foremost.

    • marshmallowsnake - May 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      San Fran fans and Barry Bonds comes to mind…

  2. heynerdlinger - May 11, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    True enough, but the counter argument is that he wouldn’t be pitching like sh** if he weren’t off golfing with a sore back. It’s confirmation bias, of course, but it’s no different than the brash young outfielders who can back up their arrogance with their bat.

    I don’t care what Beckett does on his off days. As a fan, I only care that he keeps himself the shape required to perform on the field. Until his performance on the field gets back to that level, people are going to ask whether he’s really doing everything he needs to do to get it there.

  3. mybrunoblog - May 11, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    And with that Beckett strolled out of the cramped Fenway clubhouse, threw his golf bag into the back of his Mercedes and said ” can I get a Mulligan for tonight’s game?”

    • 18thstreet - May 11, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      Is his back hurt, or isn’t it? I’m not a doctor, and I don’t play golf. But it seems to me that if his back is hurt, that would make it really hard to play golf.

      And for a guy who hasn’t been taking care of himself — this isn’t about chicken in the clubhouse but the obvious pounds he’s put on over the last three years or so — I’m starting to wonder how the MLB contract doesn’t cover this sort of scenario. In exchange for this money, the player is expect to stay in shape.

  4. randygnyc - May 11, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    I’ve seen enough of Beckett to have come to the conclusion that he doesn’t give a sh!t. He’s the most cancerous player in the big leagues. There’s no doubt that his attitude is effecting other players. Bucholz in particular.

    • yournuts - May 11, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      So your a psychiatrist? Your making a diagnosis of Josh Beckett? Where did you get your training at?

      • indaburg - May 11, 2012 at 2:45 PM

        Where you learned how to write?

    • bosoxfan1950 - May 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM

      I agree 100%, Randy. And, IMHO, the Buchholz problem of being Beckett’s shadow is exacerbated by the simple fact that Buchholz isn’t smart enough to see what’s going on. Tweedle dumb and Tweedle dumber.

  5. heyblueyoustink - May 11, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    Keep pitching like this Bucko’ and you’ll be on your vacation as early as you were last year!

    • psuravens19 - May 11, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      Not sure he really cares, since he will still get that $44 million from the Sox. I love sitting back and watching this team implode, especially Beckett.

  6. bigleagues - May 11, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    Narcissist.

  7. Jonny 5 - May 11, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    “We get 18 off days a year. I think we deserve a little bit of time to ourselves.”

    I guess the 5 months off every year doesn’t count?

    • uyf1950 - May 11, 2012 at 9:27 AM

      Jonny 5 – You hit the nail on the head my friend. Beckett and the rest of the Red Sox players had off starting Sept. 29th until roughly Feb. 15th about 4 1/2 months. Aside from the occasional phone call probably from their NEW manager Bobby V baseball apparently never crossed Beckett’s mind. Obviously he never wanted to or even considered being a “team leader” and leading by example.
      Quite honestly he deserves all the chit he gets.

      • paperlions - May 11, 2012 at 10:54 AM

        If that is so….they are super old school and the Red Sox players should be celebrated (because everything old school is cherished, right?)….as old school players didn’t work out at all in the offseason and showed up to spring training fat and out-of-shape. In contrast, most modern players take off about 2-3 weeks after the season and then spend 5 to 6 days/week working out and rehabbing injuries until spring training starts.

      • uyf1950 - May 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM

        The operative word in your comment, paperlions “most”. Most old school players didn’t make millions upon million of dollars a season. In fact I can say unequivocally the “old school” players I grew up watching NONE of them made even1 million dollars per. Much less the type of money Beckett is making.

      • Jonny 5 - May 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM

        Well, truth be told PL using your version of describing old school here. Beckett is known more for showing up to spring training in “old school” fashion, more than not.

      • cleverbob - May 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM

        Working out and rehabbing by yourself isn’t the same as having to report for team activities. I’d love to have 4 1/2 months to myself every year where I had no obligation other than to work out for a few hours a day.

      • bigharold - May 11, 2012 at 12:15 PM

        “….as old school players didn’t work out at all in the offseason and showed up to spring training fat and out-of-shape.”

        That has a lot to do with the fact that most “old school” players back in the day needed to earn extra money in the off season because they didn’t get compensated like they do today. Pay scales for MLB players today, relative to the rest of society, FAR out distance their predecessor from the past up to and including the 70s. Prior to that era, there was no such thing as multiple year and or guaranteed contracts either. Spring training was specifically to get in shape and work the rust out. Today ST isn’t nor should it be for getting in shape. Considering the lavish salaries that today’s players enjoy, in general and specifically Beckett, showing up in condition and prepared should be the least that is expected today.

        While Beckett has every right to do what he pleases with his 18 days off during the season, it is also accurate to point out that he has 4 ½ months to play golf during the off season. This is a luxury known only to professional athletes. And, players with histories of back trouble shouldn’t be swinging a golf club during the season. Beckett worked REALLY hard to attain the position that he has today. He must have known that there were going to be tens of thousands of people showing up daily to watch him work, .. never mind the millions watching and listening. The implication is obvious, fans have a vested interest and lets not forget they are the customer. If Beckett insist furthering the perception that he doesn’t give a rat about public perception then he’s either stupid and completely out of touch or masochistic self centered clown.

        I’ve two grown children and the only advise I’ve ever given them about how to comport themselves in their careers is; show up, . show up on time, .. be prepared to work, and make a good faith attempt to do your job as well as possible. Maybe Valentine needs to have that conversation with Beckett too.

    • lew24 - May 11, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      18 days off a year? Dude, you pitch every 5th day! Now you are going to tell us that you never golf in between starts? Spit in my face and tell me its raining!

  8. rpink24 - May 11, 2012 at 8:53 AM

    18 days off a year, huh. The Red Sox stopped playing in early September last year and have yet to start back up. Seems to me has had nearly 9 months a vacation time.

  9. randygnyc - May 11, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    Heyblue- that’s precisely my point. I don’t think he cares. He’s still getting paid. Apparently for another 2.5 years. Somehow, I’d bet that it makes little difference to josh whether or not he pitches again for the sox. He’s the kind of guy that has the all star break circled on his calendar, 2 years in advance with the words “contract expiring soon, must get in game shape”

    • aceshigh11 - May 11, 2012 at 9:42 AM

      He said that, after the birth of his child, that pitching isn’t his top priority any more.

      Now, that may admirable from a personal perspective…god knows we need dedicated parents in this society…but to say that outloud is one big EFF YOU to the Sox fanbase and front office.

      He’s getting paid. That’s all that matters to him apparently.

      • nancy10272004 - May 11, 2012 at 12:01 PM

        I love that he said that about his child but come on, how many Dads (and Moms) do we all know who manage to balance a baby and a career? How about almost every other professional athlete out there (Gronk and “I’m saving myself for marriage” Tebow being obvious exceptions).

      • bigleagues - May 11, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        I think that part of this is that . . . in light of Pollo-y-Cerveza-gate; the fact that the mole in still in hiding (but he pretty clearly believes it to be Youkilis), that Sox fans and ownership alike believe he’s a fat pussy toad (thank you forever for that one George Steinbrenner) who’s idea of conditioning is hunting, eating copious amounts of red meat, fried foods & drinking beer then showing up for Spring Training more bloated than the year before . . . Beckett is attempting to force his way out of Boston the best way he knows how . . . as a boorish self centered pig.

        And those are among the kinder words I have for him.

        He could throw a no-hitter his next time out and it would not change my mind in the least. In fact, that would be the best thing for all involved as it would likely hasten the trading process.

  10. mulletcork - May 11, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    This redneck is a cancer. Get ‘em out….can’t win with him!!

    I want winners!!

    • zakharovsa - May 11, 2012 at 9:34 AM

      Now I’m just an ignorant Yankee fan, but wasn’t there something about him leading your team to a World Series title in 2007?

      • aceshigh11 - May 11, 2012 at 9:40 AM

        That was five years ago, man. What have you done for me lately?

        As I’ve said many times…if playing with a massive chip on your shoulder gives you that “edge” to play your heart out…well, I might not like your personality, but at least you’re getting results…

        …but Beckett has only had ONE year in which he’s been an ace from beginning to end (2007)…every year since, he’s been wildly uneven. His destructive clubhouse effect is a bigger negative than his pitching is a positive at this point.

      • zakharovsa - May 11, 2012 at 9:46 AM

        “Clubhouse cancers” are given too much credit for team downfalls. Check out the many successful teams (1977 Yankees come to mind) who loathed one another. Besides, if Papelbon gets Robert Andino out are we even talking about this?

      • 18thstreet - May 11, 2012 at 9:52 AM

        I wouldn’t make the 1977 Yankees a template for anyone. It’s a miracle it worked for them.

      • zakharovsa - May 11, 2012 at 9:58 AM

        Go for the A’s championship teams then. It doesn’t hurt when guys are all buddies, but it’s not necessary in baseball.

  11. uyf1950 - May 11, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    Being a winner isn’t just about stats it’s about “HEART” and what you saw in Beckett’s after game interview is exactly why he will never be a winner regardless of how well he performs on the field.

  12. plummer2512 - May 11, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    I hate to admit it but I’m officially off the Beckett bus. When he first came back in 2006, I was so happy. Finally a true successor to Pedro, an ace. In 2007 he was masterful and although it’s been a roller coaster type of ride with him since ’07 I’ve always been a fan. But the last two years have made me Hate him. He just doesn’t care, doesn’t say the right things and truthfully is just an a**hole. I would like to just kick him in the nuts.

    Please Red Sox, find a suitor to trade this cancer away!

  13. aceshigh11 - May 11, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    It’s pretty clear that Beckett has helped to ruin whatever chemistry this team once had.

    There is simply no reason for a team loaded with high-priced talent like the Red Sox to be playing the way they are.

    The sad thing is Valentine will probably be fired before Beckett is ever held accountable for his godawful attitude.

  14. zakharovsa - May 11, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    Lots of WFAN/WEEI level commentary here. GET EM OUT WE WANT A WINNER NO HEART

    please, red sox fans, stop making me defend josh beckett.

  15. dexterismyhero - May 11, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    Hell, I don’t care if he is golfing or if it even makes a difference. It was his day off.

    He answered the question. What was he supposed to say. “Yeah, my back started hurting around the 4th hole and my lat had some pain around hole #7, but I finished the round anyway.

    The media crap is ridiculous. Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on the radio need to just STFU. Greenberg can go Tweet his butt off. He is extremely annoying.

  16. psousa1 - May 11, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    As a lifelong sox fan I could give a horse’s crap if he played golf or not. Last night he looked like he wasn’t even f-ing trying. 91mph over the plate on nearly every f-ing pitch?! Bullsh!t. He was not trying. Also sh!it can his little piss ant personal catcher Shoppach. From some of thinly veiled hints dropped by the writers who are in the clubhouse this is not a good guy.

  17. paperlions - May 11, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Damn, whole lot of myopic, fact-ignoring stupidity going on in this comment section.

  18. tuna411 - May 11, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Um, Josh, YOUR year must be different than I perceive seeing how you get 4-5 months off every winter.

    You supposedly have a bad back, missed a start, than went golfing on your “1 of 18 days off a year”, and followed it up with a completely crappy start. Yeah, I think it is my business when I help pay your salary.

    Total goof ball…

  19. sportsdrenched.com - May 11, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Like it or not, right or wrong: If you’re going to cash that check, you get to deal with questions about your personal time.

    “I spend my off days the way I want to spend them,

    Golf is a pretty minor thing, and I get what the guy is saying. But let’s say he went rock climbing, or engaged in some other “dangerous” activiy on his off day. When a company makes that type of investment in you being physicly able to do something, you can bet that you’re going to have to be accountable to being physicly ready to go when it’s time to go. If you’e not, and you’re not performing well expect some scrutiny.

  20. granadafan - May 11, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Give me a break. Baseball players are wimpiest sportsmen in all of sports. This goes even more so for starting pitchers who play every five days or so. They’re not even everyday players, FFS. I have more respect for the relief pitchers who actually pitch almost every day. Must be tough shagging balls during BP, tracking pitch counts, getting more sunflower seeds, flirting with groupies over the bullpen, on the days they’re no pitching while their teammates stand around playing every day.

  21. rico7207 - May 11, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    He could never pitch in New York for the Yankees, as they play every October.

  22. Craptastics9 - May 11, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    You are correct. If I tell my manager that my back hurts too much to pitch, I should play a sport where (if I am the best player of that sport in the world) I am violently swinging my body 60-70 times in a rotation of my back. That is totally acceptable. Next week I will tell my manager that I can’t run the bases 2 days before I run the Boston Marathon.
    When Louis Polonia was accused of stauatory rape while he was a Yankee I disavowed my support of him. Why Red Sox fans can justify rooting for a prick like Beckett is beyond me.

  23. bucsnsincity - May 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM

    Wake me up when September ends

  24. allbucdup - May 11, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    You guys are all ridiculous with hating on him for saying he gets 18 off days a year. He is talking about in the season. Look in the mirror and see how many days you take off work in a 6 month window.

    Second he didnt have a strained back. He had a sore lat…which IMO was just an excuse to bring up Cook before his contract expired.

    Guy comes out and has a bad game, and admits he had a bad game, and says the fans are smart to boo him for that bad game and you call him a cancer? Why because he was honest and didn’t offer you a cliche’? Thats also called manning up an owning responsibility something a few others in boston’s front office need to do.

    Typical Boston.. What do we have to complain about today?

  25. judahbenhur - May 11, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    There is a difference between asking who a guy is dating in his down time and asking about a physical activity that potentially affects the unique and physical job MR. Beckett is highly paid for. There are contract restrictions for everything from skiing and snowboarding in the off season to playing pickup basketball… what is he talking about? Taking a yoga class to improve his back would be a lot different than playing golf that strains your back and lats. Not exactly a big commitment to the team and contract is the point.

    • bosoxfan1950 - May 11, 2012 at 6:35 PM

      “Skiing?” “Off season?” Ah, shades of Jim Lonberg chasing Jill St. John on the slopes during the off season. Broke his leg, the mutt, and was never the same again. And he then becomes a dentist! Lucky for Beckett that he didn’t hurt himself playing golf or the heating of tar and the plucking of chickens would most assuredly have commenced.

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