This is my response to Evan’s Friday piece on Beckett.
I first heard about “Golf Gate” via Twitter last Wednesday. Clay Buchholz was being asked questions about it, and he chose not to answer them. Predictably, the blood thirsty Boston media saw this an opportunity to blow this miniscule tidbit of a non-story into a massive event. Anticipating an extraordinary amount of faux rage coming from the usual suspects, I hopped on Twitter and gave them a head start. Here were my reactions:
- Ok. What is the “Beckett golf story,” and why should I care?
- Thank you to @amandarykoff @ScottCandage and @Jared_Carrabis for the Beckett golf story update. Clearly, this is a cause for absolute panic!
- It’s too bad Beckett didn’t get struck by lightning while playing golf. He totally would have deserved it.
- Did u know that playing golf while injured is a crime against humanity? Buchholz should be sentenced to death for his role in this scandal.
- Why are you hiding behind Beckett, Clay? Afraid he’ll beat you out back by the woodshed if you talk to the media? We deserve to know!
While I couldn’t find anything that matched my over-the-top out of control anger, I did find a few fun, interesting nuggets that I thought I’d share. The first one is from Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston:
“Josh Beckett has chosen sides.
On one side, everyone who cares so much about the Red Sox that they are even personally affected by the death of a public address announcer.
On the other, Josh Beckett, who mocks the depth of that commitment with an attitude so spectacularly indifferent, Fenway Park would never have lasted 100 years if the legions of players who preceded him had been similarly inclined.”
Yes, you’re absolutely right, Mr. Edes. That’s exactly how it is. On one side, everyone in the Red Sox organization is saddened by the tragic death of Carl Beane. On the other is Josh Beckett. Cold, ambivalent, defiant. Your sense of objectivity and fairness is duly noted.
Beckett’s decision to play golf has nothing to do with his level of commitment. He’s absolutely correct to not answer those questions. What he does on his own time is his business, and not anyone else’s. There is a line of decency when it comes to reporting, and this crosses that line for me. Does the question need to be asked? Sure, I can see it being asked once. Playing golf while injured could lead to further complications. I can even see a follow-up question being asked after. Beyond that? No. That’s not reporting. It’s trolling. Plain and simple.
For Edes and those like him, this isn’t just about golf. It’s about chicken and beer. It’s about coming into Spring Training in what they feel is less than optimal shape, and then making assumptions about his future performance. (Interestingly enough, they give free passes to other, nicer, friendlier people.) It’s about Beckett’s surly reputation, and his distrust of the media. I can’t say this with any certainty because I’m not in his head, but Edes doesn’t seem to like Beckett all that much. That’s fine. The problem is that it clouds his objectivity and ability to report the facts. My question is this: If an identical situation (from start to finish) happened to media friendly players like Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, or even Jon Lester; would anyone care? Would Edes and others be talking about their commitment, dedication, or values? Of course not. They’d get a free pass, and we’d never hear about it again.
How about this one from the Boston Globe’s Tony Massorotti:
“So here’s the real question for Beckett today, amid all the obvious and well-deserved criticisms for how he has behaved and pitched of late: Do you even like what you do anymore, Josh? Do you? Or do you see your talent as some sort of needless burden?”
While Mazz asks a lot of questions here, he seems to miss the point entirely. How else is Beckett supposed to act? Anything he says or does will be questioned and vilified in the media. Why should he be nice and forthcoming if it’s only going to backfire on him later? This is an environment that was largely created by the Boston media questioning and making presumptions about Beckett’s motives and desires when they had no real insight to his psyche or thought processes. I’m not saying Beckett didn’t play a role in the image he’s created, but it has been blown far out of proportion, especially in recent months. The media’s role in that is impossible to downplay.
The problem is that the media seems to prefer all out character assassination to making rational arguments and identifying logical solutions. Why? It’s the same reason Fox News and MSNBC hire polorizing pundits to host “news” shows. It’s the same reason millions of people tune in to watch Jersey Shore. It’s sexy, drives traffic, and sells newspapers. We’re getting dangerously close to sports journalism turning into something far more sinister–tabloid journalism. It’s not about finding the truth, it’s about create sensational narratives. It’s about pointing fingers and placing blame. That’s not hard hitting journalism. That’s bushleague.
My issue with this whole situation is the visceral reaction and intellectual dishonesty that goes into such reporting. A reporter’s job is to report the news–not provide his spin. Beckett saw through their motives, and chose not to play their little game. As a result, he’s being punished.