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Moneyball moment for Lackey, Red Sox in Game 2

Posted by Obnoxious Boston Fan  October 4, 2013 10:25 PM

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The Red Sox won their own war of 1,812 Friday, leaving the Tampa Bay Rays fried, blackened and grilled with a 12-2 victory at Fenway Park in Game 1 of the ALDS.

Boston's first playoff victory in nearly five years - 1,812 days to be exact - was wrapped up by the fifth inning. Friday, we offered 10 things that occurred during Boston's post-season drought.

[We'll wait here while you check it out.]

The real War of 1812 left the White House, U.S. Capitol and much of Washington in scorched ruin as it was evacuated, helped to inspire the "Star Spangled Banner" and ended with the "Battle of New Orleans." There are certainly plenty of voters and taxpayers who would like to see Washington evacuated these days.

The rout of the British in New Orleans led by Andrew Jackson came a month after all sides agreed to the Treaty of Ghent, which ended hostilities on paper. No one fighting in New Orleans was aware it had been signed since they didn't have Twitter, iPhones or CNN.

Jackson's military prowess in the Battle of New Orleans and elsewhere helped propel him to the presidency and, eventually. on to the face of the $20 bill. He was replaced by there Peter Gammons in 2004.

Thumbnail image for John Lackey AP.jpgSaturday, in Game 2 against the Rays at Fenway Park, John Lackey makes the biggest big-money start of his Red Sox career. If the Red Sox were to pay Lackey in $20s over the term of his deal with the team - they'd have to shell out 4.125 million of them.

The last time Lackey started a playoff game involving the Red Sox, he was pitching for the Los Angeles Southern California Pacific Rim Angels of Anaheim and Orange County and won Game 1 of the 2009 ALDS.

There are no "big moments" in Lackey's career with the Red Sox as of now unless they involve fermented hops and breaded poultry. He's been paid about $65 million by the Red Sox but has earned barely a fraction of that.

Lackey's time in Boston, which began with the 2010 season, has generated frustration and disappointment for himself, the Red Sox and anyone who wishes the team well. Lackey was at Ground Zero when the Red Sox Nuclear Winter began in 2011. He returned from baseball exile and Tommy John surgery this season and, finally, earned several profane-free standing ovations at Fenway Park and from the couch for his hard-luck outings.

The Red Sox were shut out in six of his 13 losses this season and scored just five or fewer runs in eight of his 10 victories.

When Boston put up a dozen runs on the left-field scoreboard Friday, Lackey must have been wondering if he could pull down a couple of those crooked numbers and hold them back for today. He'll probably end up Saturday with three runs, six hits and eight glove-slams.

The adoration Lackey received this season was much more of the "Hey, we don't hate you any more" and "Good job, good effort" variety. His best outing of the season was a complete-game, 113-pitch, 3-1 victory over the once-pesky Orioles on Sept. 19. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and clinched a playoff spot for Boston.

But his $82.5 million, five-year contract remains one of the great hold-overs from the bad old days of faux "bridge period" and the Monster's ugly grip on Theo and the franchise.

A victory Saturday against the Rays would do for Lackey what that grand slam in Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS did for J.D. Drew. It would provide at least one counter for all those punchlines about his fruitless long-term, big-money deal with team.

Ending the war of 1,812 was a significant accomplishment for the Red Sox. It also assured 2013 of lasting legitimacy. But any thought of a first-round playoff exit has been deemed unacceptable at this time, especially after a double-digit-run-sized smiting of Tampa Bay.

In theory, the Red Sox would lose home-field advantage if they lose to Tampa Bay Saturday. But this is the ultimate home-and-home-and-home-and-home-and-home series for Boston. Red Sox fans turned Tropicana Field into the original Fenway South starting when the Devil Rays first surfaced in 1998.

Its official christening came on Aug. 29, 2000 when Pedro Martinez triggered a brawl by hitting Gerald Williams to start the game before retiring 24 straight batters in an 8-0 Boston victory. John Flaherty broke up his no-hitter in the ninth, but not before two members of the Red Sox had been taken to a hospital and eight members of the Devil Rays, including five players, were tossed. WEEI's Lou Merloni wound up at the bottom of the pile in the scuffle triggered by Pedro's marksmanship. Merloni left the game with a mild concussion.

That night [and yes, I was there], Pedro was definitely Tampa Bay's daddy.

Today, Lackey has the chance to be a real mutha to those 20 Rays fans in St. Petersburg and earn some of those $20s in the process.

Don't forget to visit our Obnoxious Boston Fan blog. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail me at obnoxiousbostonfan@hotmail.com.

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Obnoxious Boston Fan offers a fun, unique and biting perspective on the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, Patriots and whatever else people are talking about in the world of sports. We More »
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