Oil Can Boyd admits that he was on cocaine in two-thirds of his games

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Former Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd has a tell-all book coming out and yesterday he told all — he really told all — to WBZ radio’s Jon Miller in an interview. Specifically: he said that he was on cocaine two-thirds of the time he was on the mound during his career:

“Oh yeah, at every ballpark. There wasn’t one ballpark that I probably didn’t stay up all night, until four or five in the morning, and the same thing is still in your system … Some of the best games I’ve ever, ever pitched in the major leagues I stayed up all night; I’d say two-thirds of them. If I had went to bed, I would have won 150 ballgames in the time span that I played. I feel like my career was cut short for a lot of reasons, but I wasn’t doing anything that hundreds of ballplayers weren’t doing at the time; because that’s how I learned it.”

Boyd isn’t exactly peddling a redemption story here. While, yes, he admits that he could have doubled his win total if he wasn’t on blow all the time, he says that he has no regrets about anything he said or did. It just happened and that’s life, basically.  Teammates like Dwight Evans and Bill Buckner reached out to him, but he never went to rehab because he felt he needed to stay with the team. Baseball, he said, never gave him a single drug test.

Oh, and he thinks that he had his career cut short and was blackballed from baseball because he’s black and was outspoken:

“The reason I caught the deep end to it is because I’m black. The bottom line is the game carries a lot of bigotry, and that was an easy way for them to do it. If I wasn’t outspoken and a so-called ‘proud black man,’ maybe I would have gotten the empathy and sympathy like other ballplayers got that I didn’t get; like Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Steve Howe. I can name 50 people that got third and fourth chances all because they weren’t outspoken black individuals.’’

Hard to judge that part of it. While he was still effective enough a pitcher in the final couple of years of his major league career, it’s quite possible given how much of an open secret he implies that his drug use was that the league viewed him as a huge risk.

Indeed, while he name-checks Strawberry and Gooden, there are two facts beyond their relative lack of “outspokenness” that makes them different cases than Boyd: (1) they at least attempted rehab on multiple occasions; and (2) to put it bluntly, they were way better players who were worth the greater risk.  Right or wrong, it’s totally understandable for a team to sign a drug addict who could win an MVP or Cy Young award if clean — especially if they have at least tried rehab — than it is to take a chance on an unrepentant mid-rotation guy like Boyd.

Whatever the case, Boyd was always interesting as a player. And it sounds like he has written a really interesting autobiography. As a rule,  the “this is what happened” books by the less-famous are always way better than the “this is why I was great” books by the superstars.  This sounds like no exception.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.