The Boston Red Sox had a lousy April, but so far, May has been even worse. They’ve won just twice in ten games. They are last in their division and third-worst in baseball, with the same record as the Chicago Cubs, who have openly embarked on a low-expectations rebuilding season under former Sox general manager Theo Epstein. A handful of Boston’s highest-played players are on the disabled list, and many of their able-bodied ones look like they could use a break, too. But that’s just the bad news on the field. Off it, the last two weeks have brought a mix of tragedy, controversy, and embarrassment.
On Wednesday, the team’s public-address announcer, Carl Beane, known for his tradition-marking opening line (“Good evening ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, and welcome to Fenway Park…”) and for his florid pronunciation of David Ortiz’s last name, died in a car crash. That news, sad in a real and lasting way, came on the same day that another story broke—one that is sad in a passing and pathetic kind of way. Word leaked that Sox pitcher Josh Beckett had been playing golf two days before he missed a start due to injury concerns, launching a string of bad puns in the press (“off course” seems popular), calling into question his commitment to the team, and further alienating him from Boston fans. (He was at the center of the controversy last fall, following a historic September collapse, in which players were called out for drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games.) On Thursday night, Beckett gave up seven runs in just over two innings against the Indians, and left the game to jeers from the crowd. Afterward, he said, “I pitched like shit. That’s what happens. Smart fans.”