Get through to him
As much as Josh Beckett's comments show a disconnect with — perhaps even outright disrespect for — his team and its fans, the Red Sox have little recourse other than to try to hammer into his head why his behavior is so rankling. And good luck with that.
Don't let Beckett's horrid outing Thursday or his 5.97 season ERA fool you: He's still a good pitcher and one the Red Sox need. Four of his six outings have been quality starts, and all the outcry over beer and chicken doesn't change the fact that he posted a 2.89 ERA and 8.2 Ks/9 IP last season.
For all the talk of how Beckett is a clubhouse cancer who might single-handedly bring down the Red Sox, it's misguided to think Boston is a better club with him than without him.
Get him pitching better
Josh Beckett, it seems, cares more about his short game than the respect of Boston fans. The air of defiance he flashed when asked about playing golf during a stretch in which he was unavailable to pitch, including in a 17-inning battle that ended with outfielder Darnell McDonald on the mound, helps no one, especially him.
The Red Sox need Beckett, and he probably needs them more than he knows, so they've got to get him to understand the value of public opinion. There's little the Red Sox can do with Beckett other than helping him win back the fans and pitch better.
The onus in both areas is on Beckett, who needs to be smarter.
Get him some perspective
Josh Beckett's faux pas is not drinking beer, eating fried chicken, playing golf or pitching like a you-know-what. His great sin is tone-deafness.
The terrible collapse by the Red Sox in September probably was not caused by the starting pitchers' habits, but as it was happening, and in the wake of it, the Boston fans needed to believe the players cared as much as they did, were as angry and frustrated as they were. The beer-and-fried-chicken stories didn't look good, and shattered trust.
The image of Beckett playing golf at a time when he missed a start showed that he still does not get it, and his defiance after getting clobbered by the Indians on Thursday only reinforced that. This late in his career, such tone-deafness is as mystifying as it is unforgivable.
Get him to be all in
There is little the Red Sox can do about Josh Beckett, outside of setting more strict guidelines about off-field activities that might impact his performance. Beckett is being paid $15.75 million each of the next three seasons. His obligation is to do everything he can to pitch at the highest level. The Red Sox would not be out of line by demanding Beckett not golf when he has any kind of injury, let alone one in the rib-cage area.
As for Beckett's defiant attitude, that's never going to change. He's been that way since he was a rookie, and I think in some ways, that edge, that refusal to surrender or back down to anyone or admit he's wrong, has made him a better pitcher. The Red Sox knew what they were getting when they acquired Beckett; they can't ask him to change now.