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.