John Lackey: Ranking His 10 Worst Moments as a Boston Red Sox Pitcher
John Lackey has had his ups and downs as a Boston Red Sox pitcher. As Red Sox Nation knows, it has been mostly downs. There have been so many in fact, it seems worthy to rank them. Who does not want to know how ugly things have gotten and which are uglier than others.
Lackey has had a number of blow-up games, which ones were the most horrific for Boston fans to watch?
He has been mired in controversies, but which ones have formed darker cloud than the others?
This is a list of the top 10 least finest moments of John Lackey's career in a Red Sox uniform.
*Boston fans, it is advised that you now look away, or at least hide your kids*
September 9, 2011: John Lackey vs. Tampa Bay
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With the 2011 season on the line, the Boston Red Sox were looking for some kind of stopper in the rotation. They were amidst a terrible skid and facing off against the Tampa Bay Rays who were hungry for the wildcard spot.
Enter John Lackey, September 9th, at the Trop. Boston never stood a chance, as the Rays scored—three in the second inning and two more in the third. Lackey was chased after that.
His final game line was three innings pitched and five earned runs on three walks and five hits.
September 2011: The Text Message Conference
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John Lackey has always been known for his bulldog mentality when on the diamond. He is a fighter and a fierce competitor. However, this often causes him to blame others for his misgivings. Lackey has made a habit of escaping accountability.
For example, one staple of John Lackey pitching is him throwing up his hands whenever the defense cannot make a play behind him; it does not matter that he is making the pitches that put the ball into play.
This attitude of his came to a culmination in September 2011. Mired in one of the worst September collapses in baseball history, John Lackey met with the media after his last start of the season (a 14-inning night cap against the New York Yankees). Lackey burst in anger at the reporters, claiming that before the game he was sent a very personal text message from someone in the media.
When asked if the text had affected his performance, Lackey said "I don't believe I've got to deal with this" and stormed off.
Spring Training 2011: John Lackey Gets Hopes Up
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2010 for John Lackey was not great, but it was not bad either. He pitched pretty well down the stretch, and his stats finished pretty average. Red Sox fans were still holding onto hope; they just needed something to keep the faith going.
The 2011 spring training was that something. Lackey finished the spring 2-1, pitching 21 innings with a 3.43 ERA. His stuff looked crisp and healthy with a 10/3 K/BB ratio. Once again, as he had done so many times before, Lackey was building up hope before the big fall.
Despite an exquisite spring, 2011 would become disastrous for John Lackey. In fact, it was historically disastrous as John Lackey posted the worst ERA of any Boston Red Sox starter ever.
June 2011: John Lackey Denies Elbow Injury
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In June 2011, Peter Gammons went on WEEI and talked about how the training staff had concerns over John Lackey’s health, highlighting specifically concerns over how it was affecting on-field performance.
Gammons focused on the elbow and how it has troubled Lackey in the past. He speculated that TJ surgery could befall the right-hander by August.
When asked about the statements made by Gammons, Lackey was adamant they were false, going as far as saying that the long-time, incredibly-respected, baseball journalist had made it all up.
Yet, here we are in October 2011, and it seems that none of it was made up at all…
April 19, 2010: John Lackey's First Awful Start with Boston
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John Lackey kicked off 2010 well. After his first two starts, he went 1-0, pitched 12.2 innings, all to the tune of a 1.42 ERA. Red Sox Nation was filled with hope that Boston might have the best rotation in baseball. Then, on April 19th, he hit a brick wall. In a start against Tampa Bay, Lackey only pitched 3.1 innings, giving up eight earned runs on nine hits.
At the time, the start seemed like an enigma. This was John Lackey; he was better than that dreadful start in Tampa. However, in reality, it was a vision of things to come. These kinds of blowups have become routine for Lackey, and quality starts have become the enigma.
October 25, 2011: Boston Announces Lackey Will Need Tommy John Surgery
After denying having any elbow injuries in June, low and behold, it was decided in October that John Lackey would be facing Tommy John Surgery going into the 2012 season. Naturally, Red Sox fans must have mixed feelings. Most fans would never wish harm against any player, but one cannot help but cheer that they are free of Lackey in 2012.
However, the most infuriating thing about this news was that it came after the denials in June. The news that came out was that Lackey was indeed bothered by the injury all season. So, why wait until October?
I understand that Lackey has a competitors mentality, but he obviously hindered the rotation down the stretch in 2011. If he had fessed up to his injuries sooner, thus taking himself out of the rotation, who knows how 2011 could have ended.
April 2, 2011: John Lackey's Worst Start as a Boston Red Sox
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April 2, 2011 was John Lackey’s first start of the season, but it was also virtually his worst start in a Red Sox uniform. Lackey gave up nine earned runs, on 10 hits, in 3.2 innings. His ERA was a blistering 22.09 to begin the season after the start.
John Lackey has had a lot of terrible starts with Boston. However, this one takes the cake as his worst. This start ultimately set the table for Lackey’s 2011 season, which has been the worst of his career, so far.
April 7, 2010: John Lackey's Fenway Debut
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April 7, 2010, was when John Lackey made his Fenway Park debut against the New York Yankees. Despite the Red Sox losing 3-1, Lackey pitched a great game going six innings of three-hit ball with three strikeouts.
With a relatively strong pitching line, why then is this on the list? Because, it is the day John Lackey fooled us all. Lackey pitched well, and against Boston's archrival, imbuing the Nation with hope for the remainder of the season; however, it was all a deep tailspin from there.
Lackey would finish his first season in a Boston uniform 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA.
October 2011: Beer Gate
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This little gem of a month stands as a dark cloud in Red Sox history. After a horrid September, the Boston starters could not get out of the news. October brought the disturbing revelation that Boston pitchers spent games in the clubhouse drinking beer, eating fried chicken and playing video games.
During the flurry of clubhouse leaks, Lackey was named as a ringleader in the classless acts of Boston starters. It was also revealed that the behavior started near the end of the 2010 season. Interesting, since Lackey signed on with Boston in 2010. I am not saying the pitcher worked alone, but it seems he had large influence over creating negative behavior in the Red Sox clubhouse.
December 16, 2009: The Day John Lackey Signed with the Boston Red Sox
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The day that will forever live in infamy for Red Sox Nation. Boston fans were so hopeful on this day in December. After a disappointing 2008 and 2009, in which the starting pitching gave out, Theo Epstein was delivering a grand workhorse.
Unfortunately, what no one understood was that this workhorse was in fact a Trojan workhorse. On the outside was a sturdy pitching machine with a great track record; but, on the inside was a whiny loser who would wreak havoc on the inner confines of Fenway Park.
Theo sent a rain of hope through Boston when he signed John Lackey. The former Angels ace was the best arm on the market that year, and it seemed like a win heading into 2010. Instead, Lackey has served up lackluster numbers while becoming a clubhouse distraction.
Lackey was a dud in an aces clothing, and December 9, 2010 will forever be the day he duped us all.