Josh Beckett wore out his welcome in Boston, but fans should never forget that he gave the Red Sox one of their greatest postseason performances ever.
The Boston Red Sox and Josh Beckett had a terrible falling out. The last year or so has been so ugly that it became irreconcilable with management and the fans. He had to leave town.
It was the most painful breakup the Red Sox have had in months. Between Kevin Youkilis, Theo Epstein, Terry Francona and Jonathan Papelbon, awkward goodbyes seem to be the norm in Boston.
He already seems more relaxed in Los Angeles, and Red Sox fans do not seem to miss him.
Like with any divorce, when it happens, all the two sides seem to feel initially is a level of bitterness toward the other. The Red Sox and their fans are happy that the beer-chugging, chicken-eating multimillionaire with the bloated belly and ERA and the bad attitude is gone. Beckett is happy to be out of the Boston pressure cooker.
But in the middle of all the bad blood and ill will, Red Sox fans should take a moment to salute Josh Beckett and say thank you. It may seem like a billion years ago now, but 2007 was only five seasons ago. And that year, while not as cherished as 2004, was a very important one for Red Sox and their fans.
Beckett arrived in Boston in 2006, a year after Pedro left. They needed a bad-ass ace at the top of the rotation, and Beckett looked the part. He was costly. The Red Sox surrendered Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for him. Plus, they had to take on Mike Lowell's costly contract, which turned out to be a good thing.
The Red Sox won the division that year, their only division title since 1995. And they won it by only a couple of games over the Yankees. Beckett went 20-7 that year over 200.2 innings. Without Beckett, there was no division title.
Then he gave the Red Sox the single greatest postseason performance by a starting pitcher in franchise history.
The numbers speak for themselves. A complete-game shutout in Game 1 of the division series against the Angels. Two victories in the ALCS against the Indians, including eight critical innings in a potential elimination Game 5 against CC Sabathia. He would go on to win the ALCS MVP.
Then he threw seven innings of one-run ball in Game 1 of the World Series.
He went 4-0 with a complete game shutout. He walked two batters total in his four starts while striking out 35. That's a 17.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He posted a 1.20 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP over 30 innings.
And he was totally unfazed when his ex-girlfriend was hired by Cleveland to sing the national anthem before his start.
The Red Sox won the 2007 World Series, and it relieved some different pressures for the franchise. It showed that 2004 was not just a fluke.
It fulfilled Theo Epstein's promise for championships, plural. And it gave younger Red Sox stars like Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury a championship of their own.
No player on the Red Sox shone as brightly as Josh Beckett did in 2007.
A lot of bad blood has boiled over since then. Being a surly guy winning 20 games makes a pitcher a bad ass. Being a surly guy with an ERA over 5.00 in two of his last three seasons makes a pitcher an unwanted burden.
Josh Beckett had to go. But Red Sox fans should not forget the good parts.
In the movie The Big Broadcast of 1938, a couple on the verge of divorce played by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross sing the song "Thanks for the Memory." Knowing their relationship is over, they take the time to remember the good times.
Let's take a tip from that movie, Red Sox fans. Mr. Beckett, thanks for the memories.
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