Have you ever watched a postgame press conference after a loss and heard an athlete or a coach say, well...nothing really?
Doesn't it drive you nuts when these guys spew out the same cliche' tripe like, "We missed some chances," "We failed to execute," or, my favorite, "When you face a team as good as [fill in opponent here], you can't make mistakes, and we made mistakes."
Why can't these guys ever come up with something new? As it turns out, there are two reasons why coaches, managers, and players use those canned statements after a loss.
The first is that they are not, by design, wordsmiths: Their talents lie in other areas. The second reason is that they have class: The only thing worse than losing, is losing and complaining, or, to put another way, losing like John Lackey.
"[I feel] like I want to throw somebody through a wall," Lackey said at his locker after the game. "The better team lost."
Is that so, John? Well, according to what turned out to be the most irrelevant stat of the regular season, Lackey could have a point. For the season, the Boston Red Sox were 1–8 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels had seven more wins overall as compared to the Red Sox in the regular season. On paper, that looks to be an advantage.
How about pitching? The ERA for Anaheim's top five starters ( according to number of games, Jon Garland, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, Jered Weaver, and John Lackey) was 3.98. For the Sox, (Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett, and Clay Buchholz) was 4.20.
Runs scored? Angels are behind on this front, 765 to 845. The Red Sox also had more doubles, triples, home runs, walks, RBI, and a higher team batting average than the Angels.
Hmmm? What's this? Perhaps it isn't as clear cut as Mr. Lackey would like to believe?
Maybe he meant the competition? In the AL East, Boston's division, only one of the five teams finished under .500 (Baltimore Orioles). In the AL West, only the Angels won more than half of their games.
Depending on which stats you use, you could make an argument in support of Lackey's sour grapes. It's even easier to point out the holes in his theory. But in the end, the issue isn't whether or not he's correct. What's important is that he suffered two tough losses to the defending World Series Champs and rather then be magnanimous, he decided to pout.
Had Lackey wanted to, he could have vented his pent up steam at his teammates.
Several plays over the course of Lackey's two ALDS starts made the road a lot tougher for him, including a couple of botched double-plays in game four. Hanging your teammates out to dry, however, is an even greater sin. To his credit, Lackey stayed away from that.
Lackey went on to say, "It's way different, this year from last year. They were better than us last year. They were not better than us this year. It's 100, 180 degrees different."
And even more, "Monday night they scored on a broken-bat ground ball and a fly ball that anywhere else in America is an out, and [Dustin Pedroia is] fist-pumping on second base like he did something great.”
John, it was great for the Red Sox. See, Dustin Pedroia was rooting for his team, as opposed to whining about the opponents. Also, must I mention that the Angels have capitalized on green monster hits over the course of the season and the playoffs.
John Lackey's lack of math skills and class aside, his perception of the change from last year seems pretty skewed—even considering Botson's postseason win streak over Anaheim came to and end after the Angel's took game three.
John Lackey needs to be reminded that being a professional athlete is supposed indicate something more than the fact you get a paycheck. You're supposed to act like a professional, too.
While they may be the better team in isolated stats, and in John Lackey's mind, the fact remains that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will spend the rest of October working on their golf game, while the Red Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays.
On paper, the Rays are a better team than the Red Sox, too. But as the saying goes, "That's why they play the games."