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Time for Sox to show Josh Beckett the door

05.10.12 at 1:31 pm ET
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Josh Beckett is scheduled to start for the Red Sox on Thursday night. If Bobby Valentine, Ben Cherington, Larry Lucchino and John Henry are half as serious as about changing the culture of the clubhouse as they told us they were all offseason, they won’t let Beckett get past the security guards at the player entrance at Fenway Park.

Beckett – according to several reports, and confirmed by several others –played golf with Clay Buchholz last Thursday. By itself who cares, right? Guys play golf on their off days, even if they have been the worst pitcher in baseball over the first month of the season (which Buchholz has absolutely been). We get it. But here’s where it gets juicy: This quick 18 holes was played exactly one day after Beckett was scratched from a scheduled start with a pulled lat.

It’s almost breathtaking arrogance, isn’t it? Either that or incomprehensible stupidity. Probably it’s both. But that’s Beckett all the way, a guy who wants to be seen as an ace, has been treated as an ace (by media and the organization) but hasn’t acted or pitched like an ace for five years. As entitled as it gets, fat and happy from years of enabling from an organization that needs to, but will not, respond to another middle finger from a guy making $17 million this year (and the next two). He was the face (or chins, I suppose) of the historic collapse last season, and evidently learned nothing from the experience and fallout.

Because this is worse than beer and chicken. Why? Well, it happened after it – which again suggests that he didn’t think he did anything wrong last September – and it makes a very strong case that Beckett cares more about golfing than he does about pitching and winning. We already knew baseball wasn’t his top priority — he told Rob Bradford that last in spring training — but who knew what he cared about most was those shiny new hybrids. And maybe the only reason Beckett’s put on 40 pounds over the last 12 months was to justify the couple of hundred bucks he spent on that sweet belly putter.

Look, you can scream about media overkill from the top of Mt. Everest and I’m usually right next to you. Chicken and beer was overblown by at least half, and we all know the other gossipy stuff that gets in the way of actual sports news. But this is different. This is a player, a supposed leader, a supposed leader with a very serious and very recent black mark on his character resume, either faking or playing up an injury. And I hate writing that, I hate speculating about injuries. I’ve never done it in the past because it’s dangerous ground. But walk me through this: If Beckett – who we are told is a horse, a guy who wants to pitch through anything – is so hurt that he needs to beg out of a Saturday start on a Wednesday how is he able to play golf on a Thursday?

And if he felt good on Thursday why didn’t he knock down Valentine’s door and demand to start on Saturday? Wouldn’t Roy Halladay do that? How about Justin Verlander? But that didn’t happen. Beckett was evidently more than happy to take a seat on the weekend and watch Aaron Cook get blasted on Saturday and Darnell McDonald give up three runs in the 17th inning on Sunday. Think Valentine could have used Beckett for an inning or two instead of McDonald? But when the manager was looking for volunteers Beckett — who we’ve been told time and time again is the leader of this staff, the guy Lester and Buchholz follow — was nowhere to be found.

He just doesn’t care all that much about his team and he doesn’t want to be here. Simple. How else can it be construed? And that’s why, in a perfect world, the Red Sox would just cut bait.

Something like this, from a Sox perspective: We wanted to give the guy a second chance after last September, we wanted it to work out, Josh has been a big part of our successes since he arrived in Boston. But a line has now been crossed, and we think it’s in our best interest organizationally to move on. Trading – or releasing, this is a 10/5 guy – Josh Beckett for 40 cents on the dollar is a lousy baseball move, but a great organizational move. Thanks for the memories and all that and there’s the door.

But you and I know that’s not going to happen. Beckett is either going to deny playing golf or give a no comment buffet to reporters. Bobby Valentine – who was supposed to make the comfortable guys uncomfortable, not sure where playing golf while injured fits in there – will do nothing. Valentine was emasculated the minute he apologized to Beckett and Carl Crawford for things he said while a paid analyst for ESPN, in other words just doing his job. As an enforcer, he’s turned out to be Terry Francona 2.0. It’s a country club all over again. The only difference is that Francona is a proven winner, while Valentine is just a guy with a 12-17 record. And ownership will do nothing. The coddling and enabling and ass-kissing will continue, because this is how it goes with this organization. Players call the shots.

Josh Beckett will pitch on Thursday, because that’s what Josh Beckett wants to do.

Welcome to the 2012 Red Sox.

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