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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Angels Fans Wrong to Boo Lackey, Call Him Benedict Arnold Traitor

John Lackey had a huge role in delivering the greatest moment in Angels history — their only World Series in 2002. Then a 23-year-old rookie, the Big Texan went five innings of one-run ball in Game 7 of the World Series against Barry Bonds and the Giants. His efforts coupled with Garret Anderson’s bases-clearing double in the third helped provide the best fan experience I’ve ever had, one that probably won’t ever be surpassed (at best you can only hope to match the experience of watching your favorite team win a decisive Game 7 in the World Series). As a result of that game, Lackey achieved “Boy for Life” status in my book, meaning no matter what he did the rest of his career, he would always be good by me.

Thing is, after two so-so seasons following the World Series win, Lackey developed into one of the most consistent pitchers in the AL and the true ace of the Angels’ staff. He went five straight years making at least 32 starts per season, peaking in 2007 with a 19-9 record that helped him finish third in Cy Young voting. Lackey was bothered by injuries his last two years with the Angels, but he was still quite effective when healthy. After eight strong years with the team, he filed for free agency and signed with the Boston Red Sox who offered him a nice contract — five years for $82.5 million.

The amount of money the Angels were offering Lackey was not anywhere near the 82.5 million Boston had on the table, plus they were giving him an extra year on his deal. The Red Sox were showing much more faith in Lackey, deeper pockets, and a stronger belief in his abilities than the Angels were. John did the sensible thing by going to the team that seemed more committed to him, and one that seemed more committed to winning. He did nothing wrong in my opinion, and I can see why he signed with the Red Sox; team loyalty is nice but it was to work two ways.

Given all the information I just presented, how is it that Angels fans could possibly boo him on Tuesday night when he pitched against the Angels and beat them? Do they not remember 2002? Or worse yet, did they not appreciate it? How about the 233 career quality starts he gave the Angels, does that not count for anything? Explain to me why Vladimir Guerrero can sign with the intra-divisional Rangers, torch the Angels during games, and still get cheered at Angel Stadium while Lackey gets booed. There’s no excuse for that Angels fans, no excuse. Very poor form.

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