February 19, 2007

keith Sad to hear the news that former Oakland A’s and Red Sox closer Keith Foulke decided to hang up his spikes Friday, informing the Cleveland Indians (whom he had recently signed a 1-year, $5 million contract to play with) that recent elbow pain, on top of pain he had already been dealing with in both his knees and back, would prevent him from continuing to play anymore.

I always liked Keith Foulke, though he was never really cut out for playing under the media microscope that is Boston. All the guy ever wanted to do was pitch, but somehow that was never enough for the whiny girly-girls that make up the majority of the Boston sports media, and (at least I hope) the minority of Red Sox fans. Back in 2005, when he was pitching poorly while wrestling with bad knees, he was absolutely mauled by the Boston media for comments he made after being booed following a particularly bad outing, as the Globe’s Steve Silva is quick to remind us:

Foulke lost some stature in the eyes of fans because of several flare-ups in Boston over the past two seasons. ”They’re not going to make it any harder than it is for me to go home and look in the mirror,” Foulke said about the booing that rained down from the Fenway stands in June 2005. “Like I’ve told [the media] plenty of times, I’m more embarrassed to walk into this locker room and look at the faces of my teammates than I am to walk out and see Johnny from Burger King booing me. I’m worried about these guys, not everybody else.”

Well, that last ‘Johnny from Burger King’ comment was all the elite types at the Globe and Herald needed to hear, and they never let Foulke forget it. Rather than just let slide a comment made obviously out of frustration and anger by a struggling pitcher, the Dan Shaughnessys and Tony Massarottis of the world, who love to sit on their high thrones just waiting for a Boston athlete to say something they can use to generate negative headlines and stories, pounced, utimately forcing Foulke to issue an apology – something that never should have been necessary.

Sure, he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, what Foulke did to end the Red Sox’ world championship drought back in 2004 was more than sufficient. Sure, had his up and down stretches during the year that would either have you pumping your fist in the air in exultation, or heading for that secret spot where your wife thought she had sufficiently hid the Cuervo Gold. But, by and large, Foulke served the purpose for which Theo Epstein signed him during those dreary Grady Little, post-2003 Yankee series meltdown days in the winter of 2003-04.

People can continue to carp on Keith Foulke, but me, I’ll always remember watching him field that grounder hit by Edgar Rentereia, run towards first base, then ever-so-carefully toss the ball to Doug Meintkiewicz, raising his arms in triumph before all the hugging and kissing began, and Red Sox fans all over the world popped the corks on thousands of champagne bottles.

So best of luck to you in the future Keith, and thanks. Those nattering nabobs of negativity in the Boston media may not have liked you, but to me, you were always OK. You did the job you were brought here for – to help bring us long-suffering Red Sox fans a world championship and a season we will never forget. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 01:57 | Comments Off on Thanks, Keith
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