We’re Better Than That

There are few ways to draw the ire of Blue Jays fans quite like insulting Toronto’s favourite baseball player, John McDonald.

You could probably set a Joe Carter jersey on fire or defecate on a picture of Dave Stieb, and it wouldn’t cause half the reaction among the Blue Jays faithful as a remark or two against the back up infielder. In a city that loves hockey, a sport in which visible effort counts for so much, McDonald’s enthusiasm despite a lack of talent has endeared him to the fan base in a way that not even the best player in baseball, Jose Bautista, could.

Personally, my nerd boy fanaticism for McDonald was won over during the 2007 season, when his play at shortstop was pretty much the only reason to go down to the ballpark. He single handedly made baseball watchable and fun. The Jays could be down by five runs but there was a chance that McDonald would reward your staying and watching with a diving play to his right and then a throw to first base from the same position that he landed in with his dive.

It also helps that McDonald is a generally nice guy. A couple of years ago I had the chance to interview a few Blue Jays for a goofy little web segment on The Score. While I was setting up to ask McDonald a few meaningless questions, he asked if we could excuse him for a second. Of course we had no problem obliging. McDonald then went over to Pat Tabler who had apparently brought some children from Sick Kids Hospital to watch batting practice the day before. McDonald was asking Tabler about one of the kids in particular, generally concerned about his situation and wondering if there was anything he could do for him and his family. Once Tabler promised McDonald he’d put him in touch with the family in question, he came back to do our stupid little interview, which suddenly made me feel ridiculous and small.

This wasn’t a one time thing either. McDonald is the first to organize visits to veterans hospitals whenever they play in Baltimore and he’s been known to quietly involve himself in charities and other hospital visits whenever he gets the opportunity. His actions off the field are the epitome of what fans want from a baseball player: a benevolent athlete who seems to understand how lucky he is to be playing a sport for a living and so he does all he can to give back to the universe for it.

That, and he’s really, really great at defense.

Anyway, this is why John Lackey’s comments following last night’s game seemed enraging to so many Blue Jays fans. The pitcher who gave up a home run and a double to the normally light hitting McDonald was obviously frustrated when he said:

Everybody’s had success with him in the past. You can’t give up hits like that to him when you have other guys in that lineup who can hurt you.

Whether true or not, Lackey’s comments aren’t exactly the most gracious. But before Jays fans across the internet organize hate campaigns against the struggling pitcher, let’s pause for a moment and take a look at our What Would Johnny Mac Do? bracelets.

Before insulting McDonald, Lackey hinted at something bigger than baseball being on his mind when he said, “Everything sucks in my life right now to be honest with you.”

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe points out that during Spring Training, Lackey confirmed to media that his wife, Krista, was battling breast cancer. While personal problems aren’t an excuse to begin talking negatively about competitors, it should be remembered by Blue Jays fans eager to exact some sort of misguided payback on someone who made some dumb comments that Lackey has enough problems both personally and professionally that he probably doesn’t need our insults and mockery as well.

And besides, with a visit to Minnesota to play the Twins, Blue Jays fans should be saving up all their disdain for continuing the onslaught of insults on Denard Span.

Comments (15)

  1. I’d extend Lackey the benefit of the doubt is this was a one-off or something out-of-character. But it isn’t. This is who he is and always has been.

    I hope for a speedy and full recovery for his wife and hope he can concentrate on baseball and baseball alone, but that’s it.

  2. Lackey’s an a-hole. Always has been. Sorry about his wife but he’d still be an a-hole with or without that unfortunate personal situation. Johnny Mac’s a god. No question. Everyone’s favorite Blue Jay. Perhaps the currently best-loved athlete in Toronto period. Picking on Johnny Mac is like kicking a puppy. JMac will laugh it off and so should we. A homer and 3 RBI’s is all the revenge we need.

  3. I found it incredibly telling when I could actually read Lackey’s lips as he had a fit on the mound after Crawford failed to catch Bautista’s sky-high pop-up that hit the wall. Let’s just say it didn’t appear that he was inviting Crawford out for dinner after the game…

  4. What is so controversial about what Lackey said? You probably do suck if you give up a home run and a double to John MacDonald. Your life probably does suck if your wife has cancer, even if you’re making $15 million this season.
    I don’t understand why so many fans are calling for Lackey’s head when he stated the truth about one of the worst offensive players in the league.

  5. Just for the sake of argument, when do you take a player to task for saying something in a press conference or in the heat of the game if you have to consider all the variables in every case? The big picture is an uncomfortable one.

    McDonald himself would likely not care that Lackey said what he did regardless of his personal or professional situation – but a lot of players could take a callout like that personally. ON the other hand – don’t all Jays bloggers basically make a similar point every time they state that McDonald isn’t good offensively? I bet the ratio of McDonald mentions that are accompanied by this fact outweighs the ratio of any other player mentions accompanied by a statement of offensive superiority around the Jays’ horn.

    So really, maybe it’s just that Lackey is stepping on the fans’ turf – you have to be ON THE TEAM to criticize, man.

  6. Remember when Josh Towers was pissed because he gave up home runs to the 8 and 9 hitters of the Cleveland Indians? Then those hitters heard about it and they were pissed at him? I don’t think any of us thought Towers’ comments were out of line. Maybe that’s because he was on our team, but he’s right. You shouldn’t be giving up back to backs to the bottom of the order, and Lackey SHOULD feel like he can get McDonald out 9 out of 10 times. And I love Johnny Mac.

  7. I’m sure there is a joke somewhere about how he is just a lackey for the Boston organization.

  8. what’s the big deal? lackey didn’t make any personal comments. he was talking about jmac’s hitting ability. you shouldn’t be giving up homers to a #9 hitter who’s batting .210.

  9. Anyone who takes offense to someone saying he shouldn’t have given up a home run to John MacDonald is an unabashed homer.

  10. Totally agree with Stubbs, Qjays, Steve K, and grouchy. I love Johnny Mac, but he shouldn’t be a threat in the line up. He’s there for the D and he’ll chip in offensively whenever he could.

  11. what people don’t realize, lackey included, that in the past 2 years jmac has become a legitmate power hitter.

    in his first 1500+ ab’s he hit 9 hrs
    in his last 384 ab’s he’s hit 12 hrs

    if you extrapolate his last 2 seasons to 600 ab’s he would have hit 16 in 2009 and 25 in 2010.

    pitcher’s don’t realize yet that this is the new johhny mac, not the old one.

  12. Can you change “despite a lack of talent” to “despite a lack of relative talent” or “offensive talent” or something? The man’s been in the bigs a decade, he has some talent.

  13. In my sojourn to SOSH, they also noticed the Lackey freak out at Carl Crawford when he didn’t catch the Bautista fly ball. They quite rightly pointed out that Crawford would have been totally justified to yell back “Throw strikes, asshole!!!”

    Yeah, they were right about something. Scary.

  14. Yeah, Lackey may have been technically right in what he said, but he’s got two things going against him:

    1) It’s Johnny Mac. Sure, we can criticize his bat, but it’s like teasing your sibling. You can do it just fine, but when somebody outside of the family does it, look out.

    2) Lackey’s a douchebag.

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