Fake Outrage Alert: Bobby Valentine doesn’t like Josh Beckett playing golf

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Fried Chicken? Pfft! That’s yesterday’s faux scandal.  Today’s Red Sox Nation tempest-in-a-beer keg is golf:

According to 98.5 the Sports Hub, Beckett went out for a round of golf last Thursday, just two days before he missed a scheduled start against the Orioles because of back stiffness … It’s a development that has predictably become fodder for talk radio stations in town, and Bobby Valentine — a weekly guest on WEEI — was forced to answer questions about Beckett’s golf game this afternoon.

It was “less than the best thing to do” if Beckett played golf, Valentine said.

Eh. This is going to become a thing, I presume, in which Valentine is accused of feuding with a player and Beckett accused of being me-first instead of team-first. But let’s head this off, shall we?

As Valentine himself said, Beckett missed the start for precautionary reasons, not because he was actually injured. Beckett said he probably could have pitched. So this should not be a golf or a Josh Beckett-related “scandal.”

It is, however, another instance in which Bobby Valentine’s complete inability to defuse a media-created controversy — those radio guys talking about the golf — by mouthing some managerly platitudes creates a problem where there need not have been one.

Keep the focus off your players, Bobby. It’s the first lesson of Manager School.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.

The Rays gave Seth Smith a little league homer last night

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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:

Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.

Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.

Watch:

 

I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.

Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.