It's a shame that the St. Louis Cardinals seem to have annoyed starting pitcher John Lackey by deciding to skip his next start.
It's an even bigger shame that Lackey, who has an earned run average over 5.00 since being acquired in trade with the Boston Red Sox doesn't understand or appreciate the move.
I'm sure Lackey has a lot of pride and wants to feel like he's making a contribution to the Cardinals' efforts to make the playoffs. But sometimes players need to swallow their pride and realize maybe someone else can do their job better than them.
He also needs to realize that the Redbirds haven't abandoned him. St. Louis needs Lackey -- not rookie Marco Gonzales -- on the hill to win games once the playoffs start. So he needs to worry less about today and more about what he needs to do to get himself straightened out.
I'm really hoping, with Lackey on the hook for $500,000 next season thanks to a unique clause in his contract that kicked in when he was injured, that the former Red Sox pitcher doesn't turn into a later version of former Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez.
Brought in to be a veteran leader after the retirement of Mark McGwire, Martinez turned out to be a club house cancer and a generally a crab apple after signing a three-year pact with St. Louis. When he struggled to live up to the terms of his contract, Martinez blamed everyone but himself -- including the St. Louis fans. We were too laid back, he said. In New York, Yankees fans inspired the players by booing players who under performed. He couldn't get up for game when Cardinals fans politely clapped no matter what he did.
Lackey hasn't openly complained about the fans yet. But he does seem to think a prime position in the starting lineup is his birthright no matter how bad he pitches. And that has to be a disruptive force in the clubhouse when an excited rookie pitcher is trying to keep things in check for a very important start during the pennant race.
I sure hope Lackey gets over himself and is ready to make a good start during the Cincinnati series so we can have some sort of optimism that he's not going to go out there in a playoff contest and stink it up for a couple of innings before getting himself ejected.
Because of his early dismissal from his last start, Lackey is getting the luxury of only having to throw two frames in nearly two weeks worth of games.
A look at his career splits indicates that Lackey often struggles in August, allowing a .297 batting average against with a 4.46 ERA. But he rebounds in September and August with a career .254 BAA and a 4.14 ERA.
It would seem Lackey'd understand that he, like a lot of other pitchers, can use a break during the dog days so they're fresh when they're needed.