Whether he wanted the mantle or not, John Lackey earned the crown of the face of the Beer-and-Chicken Era Red Sox of 2011 and 2012. Since then, Josh Beckett was shipped out of town and Jon Lester generally has enough good will from 2006 & 2007 left that all of the ire of the Nation got directed at the guy with the absurd free agent contract that he had yet to live up to since arriving at Fenway.
Lackey missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, and not playing for an entire year of said-ridiculous-contract didn’t help win anyone over. Saying expectations were low for Lackey in the new year – who had laid a 6.41 ERA over 28 starts in 2011 – is like saying that it’s a bad idea to wear a Habs jersey to Sullivan’s Tap. Lackey was the last antagonist of the team that broke Red Sox Nation, and we had no intention of giving him a break even in this year of reserved anticipation.
Until Saturday, Lackey’s first start of the season and since September 2011. I’ll say it, we were all ready for an all out offensive of Lackey if he got roughed up by the Jays. We even had a fun gimmick ready, but we had to pull it when Lackey – who was having a respectable game! – came up grabbing his upper arm in the fifth inning.
There’s a difference between raking him over the coals for another failed start and piling on a guy who may have seriously injured his throwing arm all over again. The tenor changed to “He worked hard to get back, and this is a shame.”
Get healthy soon, Lackey. As we all come around on how nice it is to have a team that is likable again, a few of us may even be willing to give you an extra chance.
What a difference a likable team makes, but let the record show, we still reserve the right to make chicken jokes.