He’s also not one to genuflect at the altar or worship the ghosts of World Series Past in whatever city he’s playing in, whether it’s Minnesota, Chicago or Boston. History can kiss Pierzynski’s white ass, which is why it was only a matter of time before he did or said something to upset the old guard in the Fenway press box.
In this case, he dissed Boston’s Golden Child Jon Lester, the cancer survivor and infallible World Series hero who routinely gets jobbed by bad calls, narrow strike zones, foul weather, lumpy mounds and the occasional equinox, a guy who’s never pitched a lousy game under his own volition. If you don’t believe it, watch Lester’s body language when something doesn’t go his way. It’s never his fault.
And it’s certainly not his fault he and Pierzynski are never on the same page when paired with one another. The discord is so obvious it’s prompted manager John Farrell to adopt backup David Ross as Lester’s personal catcher for the majority of his starts. This is nothing new. Many pitchers have had personal catchers in the past, most notably Greg Maddux, who was always more comfortable throwing to Eddie Perez, but Maddux didn’t pitch to the tune of a 5.76 ERA with Javy Lopez behind the plate, which is what Lester’s numbers look like this year when paired with Pierzynski.
To his credit, Lester was fairly diplomatic last week following his latest meltdown with Pierzynski behind the dish when asked if the seven earned runs he allowed against Toronto had anything to do with not throwing to Ross instead. Lester said he didn’t care who was catching.
Needing something to fuel the agenda, the media instead poked and prodded Pierzynski, probably knowing full well what kind of answer they’d get from the one guy in the clubhouse who’s never afraid to say what’s on his mind. Pierzynski said he wasn’t the problem. He’s right. Pierzynski wasn’t here when Lester couldn't buy a win in September of 2011 with the Red Sox in full collapse mode, or in 2012 when he lost 14 games on a last-place team more consumed with double-fisting Becks and eating fried chicken. Who’s fault was it then? Probably not Lester’s.
In fairness, the numbers are hard to ignore. Lester is 0-4 when throwing to Pierzynski and 4-2 when throwing to Ross. But if there’s a problem in a relationship between a catcher and pitcher, aren’t both sides responsible for ironing it out? Given the fact Pierzynski doesn’t throw a single pitch, the split should be at least 70/30 toward the pitcher. Lester’s role in all of this remains a mystery, and it’s one the Boston media won’t dare explore, not when they can write stories about Pierzynski dogging it on the basepaths as a microcosm of the team’s failures in 2014.
Forget the fact Clay Buccholz has an ERA more than five times higher than it was a year ago, or that outside of one great series against Minnesota, David Ortiz has essentially been a .250 hitter. Ortiz can fail drug tests and smash dugout phones and still remain bulletproof in this town because, well, 2004, that’s why. And no seems to be outraged at the fact Edward Mujica, a guy who saved 37 games last year in St. Louis, has served up four home runs in just 17 relief appearances with a ghastly 7.96 ERA and an even more offensive $4.75 million base salary. There’s also Will Middlebrooks, who hasn’t made contact since stuffing former sideline reporter Jenny Dell and was so bad this year (.197 batting average before landing on the disabled list) the Red Sox had to re-sign Stephen Drew.
Old habits die hard in Boston. Remember when then-manager Bobby Valentine, in his first and only season in Boston, had the nerve to publicly question Kevin Youkilis' dedication? Dustin Pedroia immediately got on his soapbox and said "that's really not the way we go about our stuff here," a clear case of insubordination that wouldn't go unpunished in a city that doesn't specialize in nauseating hero worship. Valentine paid the price for not kissing Pedroia or Youkilis' rings and was shown the door following a last-place finish, a season in which the team quit long before Independence Day. Lester lost his last four games that year. Pierzynski didn't start any of them.
A team with 10 consecutive losses has more than one scapegoat, but it’s easy to pin it all on the new guy, especially when the new guy is a known clubhouse cancer with a crappy attitude. We haven’t hit June yet and Pierzynski is already under the radar with most of the blame pie smeared across his face. The divide will only get worse as long as this team keeps losing.
But give the Greatest Sports City Ever credit for something. At least it's ripping Pierzysnki to his face. Not even Nomar Garciaparra or Edgar Renteria were that lucky.
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