Jon Lester Being Bad Is Good And Roy Halladay Doesn't Play Fair

Jon Lester had a few good innings before getting beat up on Monday. That's exactly what we like to see.

It's just wrong. Inhuman. To be honest, it should just be illegal.

Roy Halladay pitched into the eighth inning against the Red Sox on Monday ... in a spring training game.

How is that even fair?

Has someone told Doc' to save his best for the regular season? Did anyone tell him innings and strikeouts and limiting base runners means absolutely nothing in March?

He doesn't get paid for his pre-April stats. He's supposed to throw five innings, give up a few runs and a few hits and then tell the media afterward, "I've never felt better." That's how spring training works. No more, and sometimes, a whole lot less. But definitely no more. You'll touch the sixth inning if you want a few more Twitter followers, but going into the eighth is a fool's game.

Roy Halladay, stop being so foolish.

That Jon Lester -- he's got the right idea, though. He was on a roll on Monday. He was cruising through that Phillies lineup before the sixth inning. That's when he realized how well he was pitching. That's when he realized that had to stop. It's not October, dummy.

So he gave up a few runs and sprinkled in some walks. He got that big "L" on the board and did everything the Red Sox asked of him. Good job, Lester. You've never looked better on a March 21. I'm sure you've never felt better, too.

But hey. Just remember, don't be doing that come April 1. That's off-limits then.

LOYALTY BREEDS CHAMPIONSHIPS. DUH.

Red Sox fans, you've been knocked off the top of the hill.

For the first time in three years, the Red Sox do not have the most loyal fans in baseball. That title goes to the Phillies first and the Yankees second. Boston sits third.

I know it probably doesn't seem like your loyalty has dipped at all (well, let's not count the second half of last year, OK?), but it's all true. The scientific data proves it:

"New York-based Brand Keys Inc. compiled the 19th annual Sports Loyalty Index by surveying 250 fans in each team's market and assessing the data based on factors driven by on-field success, fan bonding with players and the franchise's history and tradition. A club's effort and sense of teamwork also can have an effect."

Since the Red Sox didn't win the World Series last year, it's obvious their effort and sense of teamwork was lacking. And the players, of course, did not bond as much as they should. That, too, is a huge factor behind the sagging loyalty.

Poor Sox. Maybe this year we can pull it all back together? C'mon, guys! Show us that effort! We need grit!

ACE ON OPENING DAY

Terry Francona announced last week that Jon Lester will start Opening Day for the Red Sox this year. Good move, Tito. Too bad it came a year late.

Lester should have been the Opening Day starter when April rolled around last year. With John Lackey coming aboard and Josh Beckett being that big, bad Texan he always has been, the quest for the Opening Day start had competition. Beckett wound up earning that accolade -- something, by the end of 2010, he certainly didn't deserve.

Now? Well, Lester is the clear-cut favorite. Everyone knows that. But before the 2010 season even started, Lester was the ace. Francona was still in that stage of "not hurting the veteran's feelings," though, and Beckett was named the No. 1.

But here's the thing: Lester is a veteran now, too. And if Beckett was named the No. 1 this year, he'd be smashing Lester's ego -- something that would not be well-deserved.

It's funny, though, because Tito has probably smashed Beckett's ego with Lester going on Day One. And you know what? This is a good thing. Beckett needs a fire lit under his butt after last season and this could be the BIC doing the job.

At the end of the season, I want Beckett to say something along the lines of: "When I didn't start Opening Day, that changed everything. That led me to have an ERA in the low 3s and win the Cy Young. That's what drove me."

I want Beckett to be offended and I want Beckett to pitch like he's never pitched before.

That will only mean good things for the Red Sox -- and maybe, if us loyal Sox fans are lucky, another World Series trophy.

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