First, what Tony Massarotti said:
Really, people, what did you think? Did you expect him to just take it? Keith Foulke is a very good pitcher who is having a very frustrating year, and he entered 2005 coming off one of the great October performances in Red Sox history. Of the 14 postseason games played by the Sox last fall, Foulke appeared in 11 of them. In 14 innings, he went 1-0 with three saves while allowing just one run - yes, one - and he could very well have been the Most Valuable Player of the World Series ahead of Manny Ramirez.[Note: SHOULD have been.]
Now Foulke is being booed, which certainly is within the rights of the paying customers at Fenway Park. He just doesn't have to like it. It is one thing for fans to show up and boo. It is another for them to expect someone like Foulke to embrace it all with a nod and a smile, as if he somehow needed to be reminded that he has been having a terrible year.
Sorry, but it just doesn't work that way. Players compete. That's what they do. And regardless of whether Keith Foulke is getting people out on the field, it is probably a better sign that he is jabbing back than if he were hanging his head and skulking out the clubhouse door.
Foulke likely will come to regret his remarks. That much is probable. Criticizing the fans in Boston is essentially a declaration of war, and you can bet that Burger King Johnny will be ready to pounce when Foulke slips up again. You screw up a few times, the fans will boo you. You fire back, they will likely boo louder. And in a place like Boston, especially, that is likely to continue so long as Keith Foulke keeps serving up home runs as if they were flame-broiled patties. Until that changes, Foulke has no obligation to keep his mouth shut. Neither do you. But when a man succeeds as the last line on a team that wins a championship for the first time in 86 years, you simply cannot be surprised if he elects to defend himself.
The first problem here is, this makes me well and truly worried about Red Sox Nation at the moment. We're picking our sides, drawing lines in the sand, duking it out on the radio. The Keith Foulke debate / debacle has reached my FM rock station. This is how you know it's getting out of control.
I'm generally completely dismissive of the self-aggrandizing people who want to take Foulke's remarks personally. They just want to feel that they're important, that somehow Foulke is relating to them personally, even if it's in a negative way. That's bull.
To me, the bigger issue is: Why do we want to run Foulke out of town?
Really. Because that's what we're doing.
Our "boos" aren't going to sway his opinion of himself. As Maz points out, the guy doesn't need reminding about how his year has gone so far. Although, let's look at that year.
In 35 games, he's pitched 37.1 innings. He's given up 41 hits, 25 runs and 8 home runs. Not good, and neither is his ERA: 6.03.
However, he still has a winning record (5-4), and is 14-3 in save opportunities. I'm sorry, but even if you factor in "vultured" wins, I fail to understand what's so completely terrible about that.
Even if you feel it's unacceptable, though, my next question is, who is the alternative? Who's the replacement? If you say Mike Timlin, you are out of your mind, and I am simply not going to discuss it with you.
Same with Alan Embree. Remember when people were saying that at the beginning of the season? Ha.
We're not going to get Mariano Rivera. So, who's better?
I ask you.
Frankly, I think we're shooting ourselves in the foot if we run Foulke out on a rail. Not just because of his performance in the World Series, but because there are no favorable, realistic alternatives than to continue to field Foulke and wait for him to get it right. With his track record, we have no evidence to suggest that he won't. Eventually.
But there's another matter, that of our track record as fans. Where we have influence, it's over a player's decision to stay here. To renew, or not renew, a contract. To demand a trade. To just plain shut it down and quit. We've done it before, and with the little pissing contest we appear to have going with Keith Foulke about what and who he meant when he said "Johnny from Burger King," we appear to be doing it again. We're starting to pick gnits and parse words. This is a terrible sign.
Leave the guy alone. Browbeating him is only going to make it worse. You don't know what the circumstances of his situation are, and you don't have even the most remote right to judge the situation from our vantage point out here in the stands. You don't make the decisions, and you're not inside his head. But you have the very real power to turn the best closer we've ever had, the most crucial component of our championship team, off of Boston, against you as much as you're against him. And then what? You have to answer me that question if you're going to continue to flip out about Foulke.
Otherwise, just leave him alone. How hard can it be?