Look, it was apparent as of last night that Josh Beckett was going to get ripped to shreds for the next few days, but I don’t think I was prepared to see as much vitriol thrown his way as Jeff Passan does in his column this morning:
The rot in the Boston Red Sox organization runs too deep for cosmetic upgrades, and nobody better personifies it than Josh Beckett, the clueless, defiant egomaniac who’s poisoning another Red Sox season.
He describes all that has gone down — from beer and chicken through the off-day golf — and then says “This is about common sense, decency and responsibility.” Which is the same as saying that Beckett is senseless, indecent and irresponsible.
I dunno. It’s one thing to point to an instance of performance and/or behavior and say “that is bad” or “that is dumb.” It’s another, far more serious thing altogether to say “that person is a piece of shit,” which is what Passan is doing here. And I just don’t understand what puts anyone who is not close to him in the position to make such an assessment, at least on the facts we know about him and which are being reported.
Is Beckett the quintessential team player? Doesn’t sound like it. Has he made the best decisions, both in his conditioning and his public attitude and stances? No.
But it seems a little extreme to me to go from pointing out flaws in the man and his game to such sharp, sweeping character assessments as Passan does here.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?