Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lackey loses a number, a fanbase

John Lackey has gone from #41 to #40, from the west coast to the east coast, and from rich to very rich.

I've always been a Lackey fan. From my faint memories of 2002 to his 7.1 shutout innings to start the 2009 ALDS, he's been one of the few players on the Angels with the competitive spirit we, as fans, always seek from our players.

So it's without much surprise that I've watched Angels fans turn on John Lackey like he just burned down the stadium and danced on the rubble. I understand their opposition to his signing with Boston, and I understand that his game 7 in 2002 was nearly 8 years ago. Already, you can find countless Lackey Angels jerseys on eBay (though not mine, yet), and there's lots of "traitor" and other name calling going on.

I have to agree with Seitz, who claims, "I think he was a warrior who happened to pitch for the Angels, but I don't think he had much, if any, loyalty towards the franchise." That's probably true. But I've given up on hating athletes for being athletes. Lackey's accomplishments with the franchise are not diminished by his being an asshole, much like Tiger Woods doesn't lose a Major for every mistress he's had. I don't believe that John ever, ever quit on the team, or that he didn't go out there and give it his best effort every night. His last pitch as an Angel was followed by him yelling at his manager to keep him out there, saying "This is mine." Thus, I don't think it's fair to hate John Lackey just because the Red Sox gave him an overpriced spite contract.*

Maybe the man didn't didn't leak Angels spirit all over the mound, but that's not his job. His job was to pitch brilliantly, as he did throughout his Angels career. I do believe there will come a day when the fans forgive him and recognize his immense contributions to the team.

*Spite contract - the awarding of an above market-value contract to a player to prevent him from signing with a rival team. Generally adds time, rather than money, to the contract.

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