"I'm not even going to comment on him. I've got nothing to say about him. There are things I’d like to say, but I’m not going to. You guys forget pretty conveniently about stuff."
- John Lackey on Nelson Cruz
To paraphrase what George Santayana sort of said, Lackey needs to be careful here.
"Those who implore us to remember history may be condemned by it."
Baltimore's Nelson Cruz was the guy the Red Sox passed on this past offseason because they felt comfortable with Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes in left field. At least that's Ben Cherington said on the radio last week. By the way, Cruz was voted as the starting DH for the American League All-Star team.
Even David Ortiz tried to get the now last-place Red Sox to sign Cruz this past offseason. Ortiz, by the way, did not make John Farrell's American League All-Star team as a starter or reserve. Cruz went 3-for-3 against Lackey, added two more hits later in Baltimore's 7-4 victory Saturday and contributed three more hits, including a double, in Boston's 7-6 11-inning loss on Sunday.
Cruz missed 50 games at the end of last season after being suspended for PED violations in connection to the Biogenesis scandal. Presuming he's now clean, Cruz should be hailed and celebrated for his comeback this season.
But instead, it was that suspension that Lackey apparently referred to Saturday night.
In Saturday's game, Lackey (9-6) gave up 10 hits and five earned runs in 5.1 innings of work while absorbing the loss. He saw his ERA leap from 3.62 to 3.84.
Lackey left the game with the Red Sox winning 4-3 and got another standing ovation from the Fenway crowd. Boston fans have forgotten all "about stuff" that happened in both 2011 and '12. They apparently didn't realize Lackey had put the eventual tying and lead runners on base before they stood and cheered for him.
The Fenway Faithful need to do better next time.
The spitballing over PED-positive tests continued Sunday when Baltimore manager Buck Showalter played the "Ortiz May Be On Steroids" card when he said in his typical smarmy Showalterian style that Lackey should be “looking in his backyard” before throwing stones.
That was a not-so-veiled reference to the fact that Ortiz's name was leaked after he appeared a list of players who tested positive for banned substances in 2003, before the substances were actually banned.
We have a pitcher for the Red Sox and a manager for the Orioles, neither of whom wants to let go of the past when it comes to positive PED tests. Lackey, his apologists in the media, and his representatives would have you believe that the Red Sox are supposed to completely ignore the past when it comes to Lackey's contract for next season.
Lackey is scheduled to make $500,000 in 2015 because he missed 2012 due to Tommy John surgery. Lackey made more than $31 million during 2011-12, perhaps the two most disastrous back-to-back seasons in recent Red Sox history.
Lackey finished 2011 going 12-12 with a monstrous 6.41 ERA and did not record a win after Aug. 23. He did not pitch in 2012 but managed to double-fist at least once in the Red Sox clubhouse. That is the "stuff" the Red Sox haven't forgotten about and the reason why Cherington drew his line in the sand a couple of weeks ago when it came to Lackey's salary in 2015.
What Lackey did last year, especially in the postseason, did nothing more than bring his ledger with the Red Sox into balance.
Showalter, meanwhile, is Bobby Valentine times two. He was not rehired by the Yankees after the 1995 season and New York won the World Series in 1996. He was fired by the Diamondbacks in 2000 and Arizona won the World Series in 2001. Funny how a guy who doesn't hesitate to lob a dirty bomb toward Ortiz about something that happened 11 years ago, no doubt wanted his current employers to forget about his record of failure in New York, Arizona, and Texas.
Showalter was manager of the year twice but has never brought a team to the League Championship Series. At least Bobby V. made it to the Fall Classic before bowing out in five games.
There seems to be a huge double standard when it comes to forgetting about "stuff" in baseball.
Managers who leave teams the year before they win the World Series always seem to find new jobs. Pitchers who wade through buckets of chicken and cases of beer before missing a full season due to injury still collect their paychecks. They also seem to believe that five-year contracts with a team-option they signed in 2010 are no longer binding in 2014.
PED positives and suspensions, however, seem to last forever. Players can never be clean, even if they're clean.
While memories can be selective, history isn't. Cruz is now starting the 2014 All-Star Game for the American League. Lackey won't be.
Lackey's record in Boston isn't complete without including 2011 and '12, not just '13 and pieces of '14. Unfortunately for him and his bank account, the Red Sox will be remembering all "about stuff" when they expect him to pitch next year for a mere $500,000.
The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
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