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Beckett’s Intentions Weren’t Malicious, But Suspension Still Justified

As a Red Sox fan, I’ll inevitably be accused of homerism when I say that Josh Beckett did not intend to throw at Bobby Abreu’s head in Boston’s 5-4 loss Sunday. In the first inning of that game, Beckett held his stance for an unusually long time before the 1-2 pitch, and as he finally went to the windup, Abreu called time in the middle of it. Instead of stopping himself, which could have caused a serious injury, Beckett followed through with the pitch, which sailed around Abreu’s head.

That day, Beckett was neither ejected nor warned, and four Angels ended up being ejected for arguing excessively with the umpires. The Angels had a right to be upset over how lop-sided the discipline was, especially considering it was Beckett’s actions that could have done serious harm.

Major League Baseball seems to agree. After reviewing the incident, MLB handed down a six-game suspension to Beckett, which in retrospect seems totally reasonable. He’ll miss a start. It likely won’t be this Saturday’s start against the Orioles at Fenway, up to which Beckett will probably appeal the suspension. But since he also incurred a fine for an undisclosed amount, Beckett has just about zero chance of getting the suspension lifted.

I am still standing by my belief that Beckett had no malicious intent. He had this to say to reporters about the incident and suspension:

“It was one of those deals where they have a fast runner on second and I was trying to change my looks up. I was looking back there for the third time, and I started going to the plate, and when I finally got to where I’m looking at the plate, I’m already halfway through my delivery…I’m not going to stop there and possibly hurt myself. It could have gone anywhere.”

This is more a case of Beckett’s reputation getting the best of him. He is known by many as a hothead, someone who plays with such passion and intensity that it can sometimes impair their better judgment. In this case, that may have happened, as Beckett probably should’ve shown more effort to make the pitch fly as far from harm’s way as he can. But he followed through with his normal delivery, and because the pitch happened to be close to Abreu’s head, got suspended. Beckett may be a hothead, but he’s no criminal.

It’s a fair deal, as far as I’m concerned. The Red Sox received no ejections in the game, while the Angels received four. Beckett’s actions were not maliciously intended, but they were very reckless. It may have been difficult for Beckett to make sure the pitch sails safely to the screen over everyone, but he could have shown more effort than he did. A 95-mph baseball is nothing to mess around with.

But regardless of his intentions, that pitch could have done serious damage to Abreu’s health, career and livelihood. Beckett insists he had no intention of hitting anyone on the head, and I believe him. He’ll make his next start against Baltimore, then serve his six games, come back and move on with the season.

Beckett deserved to be suspended, yes. But he was suspended for the wrong reason. For his sake and for the sake of Red Sox Nation, let’s just hope he isn’t permanently painted as a psychopath.

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April 14, 2009 - Posted by | baseball | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. His comments today were pretty good.

    “I’m not sure what I’m expected to do there. Am I supposed to go give him a hug? I wasn’t really in a hugging mood right then.”

    He also mentions that two of the umpires told him he handled it perfectly. It seems odd to me that MLB is stepping in and interpreting an incident that the men in charge of keeping order on the field said was unintentional. Not Beckett’s fault Mike Scoscia reacted like a raving lunatic.

    Comment by Latimer | April 14, 2009 | Reply


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