Josh Beckett tossed the first no-hitter of the 2014 MLB season on Sunday, making it the first time he has tossed a no-no in his career. What makes the feat even more special for the 34-year-old veteran, now in his fourteenth season in the majors, is what has led up to his nine innings of hitless pitching.
It was no fluke that Josh Beckett tossed a no-hitter, as evidenced by his solid pitching stats this year, and the command he has exhibited on the mound. In his nine starts, he is posting a 2.43 ERA, which is well below his career ERA of 3.90, and so far on the season, he has allowed just 37 hits in 55.2 innings pitched. It has been a return to glory for the Dodger’s pitcher this season, as he now finds himself throwing the ball better than he has in years. It has been three seasons since his ERA has dipped below the 3.00 level, and now the 34-year-old is finding himself revitalized, pitching alongside ace Zach Greinke, and fellow starting pitchers, Dan Haren and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
It has been an up and down career for the hard-throwing right hander from Spring, Tx. He emerged onto the MLB stage as one of the most hyped pitchers in years. As a member of the Florida Marlins, Beckett won the MVP of the 2003 World Series after registering a 1.10 ERA in the two games he started, while racking up 19 strikeouts, and allowing just eight runs in 16.1 innings. He then went on to become a two-time champion, earning his second one as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2007. In his one start of the series, he earned the victory, allowing just one earned run in seven strong innings.
Things then got a bit shaky for Josh Beckett near the tail of his career as a Red Sox player. In 2011, he found himself at the center of a controversy that accused Beckett and other players of drinking beer before and after ballgames. Drinking beer and eating fried food is nothing new—in fact, it has happened for years, as has been well-documented by teams like the ’86 Mets and their rebel-rousing behavior. However, the Mets went on to win the World Series, and did not blow a nine game lead with just 24 games to go in the season. The epic collapse found Beckett to be the ring leader of the events, and pegged him the scapegoat. He followed up the 2011 season with a dreadful, 5-11 record in 2012, with a 5.23 ERA and eventually found himself traded to the Dodgers on August 25, 2012.
While all of the negative attention seems to be a thing of the past, Josh Beckett is throwing the ball as well as ever. The well-deserved no-hitter is proof that he has finally pulled things together, and has begun to pitch like the young 21-year-old pitcher that was sure to take the baseball world by storm. All in all, he has had a productive career, but thoughts must also be swirling in the minds of baseball fans, wondering what truly could have been. A bad attitude and allegations of being lazy have seemingly held Beckett back from being one of the true greats. While one no-hitter is a remarkable feat for any pitcher, it is worth wondering how many more he could have thrown, if only he had been more disciplined in season’s past.
Commentary by Johnny Caito