Here's how much I don't like Josh Beckett: this morning, when I sat down to write the blog, my initial goal was to see if the list of Beckett's hit batsmen indicated any kind of racist pattern. If so, I was going to title the post "Josh Beckett is a Racist," and crucify him on that point. Unfortunately, the numbers indicate that he's an equal-opportunity beaner. Which is a shame, really.
Last night, we saw the same Beckett Behavior that's defined the latter part of his career. Here's what that means:
1) He stinks against the Yankees. This year, he's 0-3 with a 10.41 ERA in 5 starts. For his career, he's 9-8 with an ERA north of 6. But those numbers are heavily inflated by the last 4 years. They were never great, but they used to be better.
2) When he stinks, he gets petulant. He starts whining to himself on the mound, staring at the umpire for an extra second after borderline pitches, and swearing to himself every time he turns away.
3) He hits somebody. Usually, it's the other team's best hitter. Last night he hit Robbie Cano for the second time this season. Luckily, Miller and Morgan were there to insist that it wasn't on purpose, just like it's never on purpose. Buck and McCarver do the same exact thing for Saturday games on FOX. But it's just getting so predictable; things start to go bad, an away crowd gets on him, a base opens up, and bam. Hit batter.
4) He reacts to the booing and the batter's miffed reaction with his trademark smirk. Lips pursed, eyes full of disdain, mouth twisted into an ironic little grin. It's clear he thinks he was entitled to bean the hitter, and whatever ethical standard the rest of the league follows doesn't apply to him. And really, with the DH in place to keep him from ever stepping to the plate, he's right. Which is why he's been hitting opponents for years with no retaliation. When a pitcher is completely protected, the only thing preventing him from giving in to his worst impulses is character. And Josh Beckett has no character.
I consider myself a passionate fan, but it's very rare to find me actually screaming at the television. Last night, though, I was in full throat. I'm full of invective when it comes to Beckett, to the point that I think my girlfriend was getting a bit uncomfortable in the next room. But he's the absolute worst.
When Robbie took one on the knee last night, the greatest second baseman in the game looked about as cool as you can possibly look while getting hit by a baseball. Just after the moment of impact, his face assumed a sort of pissed-off quality, and he stayed at the plate slowly shaking his head. Personally, I was hoping he'd take his bat to the mound and unleash some Dominican justice. But his facial expression alone said it all- with Beckett on the mound, the Yankees know someone is going to get hit. Especially if Beckett is struggling, which has been the case in almost every game recently.
I don't think there's any way to legislate this problem. Even if his intentions are obvious, there's no way to prove anything, and obviously you can't prosecute on gut instinct. I just hope Beckett is traded to a national league team, and the Yanks get a shot at him on the road in interleague play. Just once, I'd like to see him quivering at the plate, and I'd like to see him take some high heat right in the upper back. There's no telling how he'd react, but if it wiped the smirk off his face for even a split second, it'd be well worth the effort. Does that make me a sicko? Probably. But I'll own that title if it means seeing Beckett squirm.
On the positive side:
-The Yankees won, which gives them at least a split in this 4-game series with the Sox. The final game goes off this afternoon at 2pm, but in Friday's post, I guessed that a split would be good enough to ensure that we were free of the Red Sox for the rest of the season. Stranger comebacks have happened, of course, but 6 games up with 52 to play sounds pretty safe to me. Even if the Yankees went .500 the rest of the way, 26-26, the Sox would have to go 32-20. That's a winning rate of 62%, which is 7 points higher than their current clip. And let's be honest, the Yanks aren't going .500 the rest of the way.
-Dustin Moseley was terrific. He only threw 87 pitches, but he made it into the 7th inning and only conceded two runs. If he can emerge as a serviceable 5th starter, it would be a huge boon to the pitching staff. Andy's still hurt, Javy has "dead arm," and AJ has back spasms. Even though all three should be ready to pitch by late August, a spot start here and there by Mose can ensure that everyone's fresh for the playoff run. After three decent starts for the big club, I'm confident he's the man for the job.
-Jeter passed Babe Ruth on the all-time hit list with his 2,874th hit. His post-game quote was about Jeterian as they come:
"Obviously Babe Ruth means a lot to baseball, especially to this organization, so anytime you get a chance to pass him in anything it's special," said Jeter, who only found out about the pending milestone a couple of days ago. "It's not like it was a goal of mine because I was unaware of it but it feels good once you accomplish it."
Someday, someone should compile all of Derek's quotes into a 3-hour DVD, score it with elevator music, and sell it as 'the most boring movie in the world.'
-Tampa almost got no-hit again. It would've been the first time in MLB history that one team was no-hit three times in a single season. Unfortunately, Brandon Morrow lost it with two outs in the ninth on this "hit.
Take a long look at that video. Keep in mind that this game was in Toronto. I mean...can you imagine that it wasn't scored an error? I'm not saying it was an error, mind you, but I'd really, really expect a hometown guy to mark it E-4. And I'd be sort of pissed off if I was the Blue Jays organization. The scorekeeper, Dave Perkins, was in his 3rd game ever on the job, and didn't show any remorse afterward. I guess I admire that he stuck to his guns, and I can't really say that he made the wrong call, but...man.
It was the second time this year that a no-no has been lost on the last out (the other, Galaragga, was a perfect game), and the second time it was a bit controversial. Here's some baseball trivia: Dave Stieb actually had three no-hitters ruined on the last out in the late 80s. Two of them were in consecutive starts, and the last one a year later was a potential perfect game. Then, in 1990, he got a no-hitter. Wild.
Despite the ruined bid, Morrrow finished the game with 17 strikeouts, and sent Tampa to their 5th loss. After briefly losing the lead in the East, the Yanks are now 2.5 games clear of the Rays.
It's good news all around for the Bombers. At 2pm this afternoon, we'll witness the season's first 'nail-in-the-coffin' game. If Hughes can beat Lester, it'll be 8 games between the Yanks and Sox. That's a lead I'm comfortable calling insurmountable. I'll be tuned in, and guess what?
I'LL HAVE MY HAMMER READY.
(Google images, don't disappoint me...)