The Red Sox have had several players over the years that have had their relationships with the fans change over the years. An overpaid slug can become a hero with one game six grand slam. An icon can become an outcast after some well-place propaganda. It’s nothing new. But, I’m not sure any player was on quite the roller coaster of John Lackey.
When he was signed, he was seen if not an ace, at least a top addition to the rotation. His first season was pretty mediocre. It was definitely an underwhelming year. The next one was even worse, as he might have been the worst starter ever, statistically speaking. Then, it turned out he was hurt, so suddenly there was a bit more sympathy for the numbers. Then he came back and was the ace of a World Series winner. From adoration to hate to legend. What a ride.
It looks like I was at Fenway for seven Lackey games during his Red Sox career. A couple of them stand out above the others, as I’m sure you can imagine. Specifically two October games.
I had the pleasure of being at the ALDS Game 2 last year when Lackey took on David Price. Lackey pitched well as the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the series.
But that’s not my favorite Lackey start.
If you’re looking for a peak in the roller coaster that was Lackey’s time in Boston, look no further than Game 6 of the 2013 World Series. I was in the stands as Lackey made our dreams come true. He was everything you wanted from a starter in that situation. He even convinced John Farrell to leave him in the game at one point. When he walked off the field to a loud standing ovation, the transformation was complete. I always said I was amazed that JD Drew gave us a curtain call after his 2007 grand slam. If I were him, I would have told the fans to stuff it. The same definitely was true with Lackey. His tip of the cap as he walked off the field was something I’m not sure I could have done. I’m not sure we deserved it. He certainly deserved the ovation, though. He deserves one every time we see him from now on.
A birthday wish is the least we can do.
Happy 36th John Lackey!