Jul 5, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Nelson Cruz (23) is greeted in the dugout after hitting a home run during the fifth inning in game two against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles: The John Lackey and Nelson Cruz Controversy

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Much has already been written today about the remarks of John Lackey after the Saturday game won by the Orioles 7-4 over the Red Sox. Lackey said of Nelson Cruz – who was the difference-maker in the game with five hits – “I’m not even going to comment on him, I’ve got nothing to say about him. There are some things that I would like to say, but I’m not going to. You guys forget pretty conveniently about stuff.”

I don’t generally reference too terribly much of the off-the-field stuff that goes on with sports, choosing rather to focus on the numbers and the games. As a writer who is not in and around the players, it is difficult to really know what someone is truly like. Interviews, even on TV, only give a partial picture of a person and their attitudes and character.

Having said that, I have always perceived John Lackey, by body language and actions seen from a distance, to certainly give the exterior appearance from a distance as a really bad attitude guy. Perhaps he is the best guy in the world who builds playgrounds for children in underprivileged neighborhoods and buys kitty litter for the local SPCA.

But it is also a well-publicized fact that he divorced his wife during a time when she was going through a battle with breast cancer. From what I do for a career, I know that there is always more than meets the eye in any marriage breakdown. But still … somehow Lackey saw himself as the victim in that scenario. In any event, it is “backyard” stuff.

Some folks heard Buck Showalter’s reaction today in speaking of being aware of one’s own backyard as a veiled reference to David Ortiz, I would hear it as simply saying that Lackey should be aware of his own life – as all of us should be. By any measure, he has been granted some grace, so surely there is room for such toward a person like Cruz who has been very open and humble about his transgressions.

Lackey had a lot of image repair to be done in Boston over the past several years. After a disastrous 2011 season with a 6.41 ERA and the large contract, surgery took him out of all of 2012. Last year, he returned with critical wins and strong performances in the World Series run, and he was granted a lot of grace and forgiveness.

A very wise man who needs no introduction said 2,000 years ago, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

The fact of the matter is that right now Nelson Cruz is a better hitter than John Lackey is right now a pitcher, especially on July 5, 2014. Yesterday, Cruz became the only visiting player at Fenway along with Ty Cobb and Jimmie Foxx to have five hits, a homer, and a stolen base.

Cruz appears to also be the bigger man.

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Tags: Baltimore Orioles John Lackey Nelson Cruz

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