John Lackey 'Double-Fisting' Beers Isn't An Issue, But Last September Is

BOSTON, MA - MAY 05: John Lackey #41 of the Boston Red Sox walks into the dugout after he was pulled from the game against the Los Angeles Angels on May 5, 2011 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

John Lackey was "caught" double-fisting beers in the Red Sox' clubhouse after a road game against the Indians last week, which instantly blew up in his face. But did he do anything wrong, and can he ever rectify his image with fans and media here in Boston?

Unless you live under a rock in Boston, you've heard that Red Sox’ injured pitcher John Lackey was "double-fisting" – in other words, holding a beer can in each hand, one of which was unopened – after Thursday night’s loss to the Indians in Cleveland. It was also reported, by the same reporter, that Lackey’s actions resembled somebody during "last call at open bar at a wedding." Both of these reports came from CSN New England.

The beauty of sports reporting, especially here in Boston, is we all have different styles of reporting and different ideas as to what is newsworthy. One is not better than the other and one is not right or wrong. They are just different. The author did not make Lackey’s "double-fisting" the headline nor did he make it the center of his column. In fact, he buried it. It was almost a footnote.

The problem, however, is that we in Boston – fans, media, innocent bystanders – treat footnotes as headlines. It’s always been this way. It is what it is. It may never change. Love it or hate it, this is why Boston is declared one of the toughest media markets in the country. Careful, you may think nobody is looking. But the truth is, everyone is.

This was the case Thursday night in Cleveland. John Lackey was seen with two beer cans in his hands as he was walking through the visiting clubhouse. Reported or not reported, some – both fans and media – found issues with this. I, however, did not.

If beer weren’t meant to be consumed then it wouldn’t be readily available for players in the clubhouse. If drinking beer after a game were frowned upon, then it wouldn’t be readily available for the players in the clubhouse. If manager Bobby Valentine didn’t want his players to drink after a road game – a win or loss – he would have expanded his "no beer in the home clubhouse" rule to visiting clubhouses as well.

Fortunately for John Lackey, all of these rules worked in his favor, yet he still got busted.

For what, I don’t know.

In my opinion, the man did nothing wrong.

Do I think Lackey used poor judgment by holding two beers at a time and walking near the media? Absolutely. He should have known better. He should have known that somebody, one person to be exact, was going to report it. After all, he was the poster child for last September’s collapse, which was fueled by beer drinking. There is no question he should have been more discrete, because he is a target, and clearly an easy one at that. And this should go down as one of the classic Boston cases of a non-story becoming a big story…. because we made it one.

In case you miss it, it was reported the following day on CSN’s "SportsNet Central," that other players were drinking beers with their dinner.

So, let me get this clear… Now we are criticizing players for WHERE they are holding and drinking their beers? If Lackey sat at the dinner table with his teammates and had those exact two beers in his possession, would that have made it ok?

What if Dustin Pedroia had four beers with dinner, Jacoby Ellsbury had three, and Carl Crawford had five while Lackey settled for his two? Or what if Lackey didn’t even end up opening the second beer, or what if he took two sips and tossed it in the garbage?

We just don’t know, do we? Bogus. Bogus. Bogus.

Lackey drew the short stick here and I think a lot of people realize that but aren’t willing to admit it. As one follower stated on Twitter, "I agree that it’s not a big deal. I just hate Lackey."

Bingo.

I cannot and will not defend John Lackey for any of his past mistakes or inappropriate behavior. But Lackey, for one, is living in the shadow of last September, and unless he can miraculously turn himself into a Messiah, he’ll have a hard time shaking that image and keeping non-stories from becoming headlines.

Various Red Sox players spoke out in support of Lackey and have also publically stated that there is nothing wrong with their clubhouse. One Sox source said he thought it was "funny" that the media thinks their clubhouse is in shambles. He said, "It couldn’t be further from the truth."

So why are we convinced the clubhouse is a mess?

Because of last September.

Various Red Sox players have publically stated and personally told me they have no issues with John Lackey as a teammate. Even a few ex-teammates from Lackey’s Angels days have told me he was a great teammate. One Texas Ranger was shocked last week when he heard that Lackey was considered one of the most hated athletes in Boston.

"He’s such a good dude," the player said. "We’re talking about the same John Lackey, right?" Granted, this Ranger was never his teammate.

Another Red Sox source also said last week, "He’s as good of a teammate as anyone in the room."

So why are we convinced that Lackey, THIS YEAR, is a distraction?

Because of last September.

And let’s not forget, it was just last July when Kevin Youkilis told the media that he wished the injured Jacoby Ellsbury would be rehab with the team.

"There's a lot of guys here that are hurt and supporting the team," said Youkilis, who was speaking for both himself and his teammates. "We wish Jacoby was here supporting us, too."

Unlike Ellsbury, Lackey - who is out for the entire 2012 season - has chosen to rehab with the ball club, the ball club that consists of his employers, his teammates and his coaches, some of which he may even be trying to win back over. Seems admirable to me. In fact, if any other player chose to rehab with the club, we’d be praising him for wanting to be part of the season, and possibly the solution. In fact, Ellsbury, one of the Red Sox’ off-field golden children, was criticized for NOT being with the club.

So why are we critical of John Lackey’s decision to rehab with his own team when it’s clear nobody actually on the team has an issue with it?

Because of last September.

This is a no-win situation for anyone involved. If these are the types of media reports we want to hear in Boston, eye-balling analysis of players’ every moves that are non-baseball related, then we can’t be shocked when a player says it’s difficult to play here. I’ve been in nearly every clubhouse in Major League baseball over the past 10 years and have seen some things that would have surely caused a stir. And in 2004 when I broke the Curt Schilling/Scott Williamson scuffle in the New York Yankees visiting clubhouse, I felt awful. Since then, I have stuck to the motto, "what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse." It’s just my personal choice.

A lot of things have to change for the Red Sox to get back to their winning ways. Whether it’s ownership, unloading heavy contracts, identifying and eliminating clubhouse rats and bad apples, changing players’ poor worth ethics and attitudes, replacing the manager, and even altering the roster.

But if we want John Lackey to distance himself from last September’s catastrophe, then everyone else has to as well, especially the media.

Just my opinion.

Jen Royle is a Columnist for SB Nation Boston. You can follow her @Jen_Royle on Twitter.

Trending Discussions

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SB Nation Boston

You must be a member of SB Nation Boston to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Boston. You should read them.

Join SB Nation Boston

You must be a member of SB Nation Boston to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SB Nation Boston. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.