King of pain

Well, there goes one potential endorsement deal for Keith Foulke. At least we won’t have to see him in any of those creepy king-costume commercials pushing Burger King’s enormous, heart-attack-in-a-box sandwiches. Besides, his outings have been disturbing enough this season.

The once upon a time reliable closer turned in another vintage 2005 performance last night, allowing five runs over 1 2/3 innings and handing a 12-8 win to the Cleveland Indians. He’s Mariano Rivera suddenly morphed into Heathcliff Slocumb. A closer is supposed to shorten the game. The only things Foulke shortens are life spans of members of Red Sox Nation.

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After allowing a grand slam to Travis Hafner in the top of the ninth inning, Foulke’s defeated teammates were so inclined to help him wriggle out of his latest disaster that it took all of three pitches for Cleveland closer Bob Wickman to retire Jay Payton, Bill Mueller, and Mark Bellhorn on a trio of consecutive ground balls in the bottom of the inning.

Then Foulke went and did the only thing he’s done worse this year than pitch: He opened his mouth.

”They’re not going to make it any harder than it is for me to go home and look in the mirror,” Foulke said about the booing that rained down from the stands on a sticky night in the Fens. “Like I’ve told you guys plenty of times, I’m more embarrassed to walk into this locker room and look at the faces of my teammates than I am to walk out and see Johnny from Burger King booing me. I’m worried about these guys, not everybody else.”

Never mind that “Johnny from Burger King” pays the $7 million he’s stealing from the club this season.

”And I’m not inviting them to my World Series celebration, either.”

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Guess what, if you cheered for him beyond belief, Foulke still wouldn’t invite you to his World Series celebration.

“They have all the right. They can boo, they can cuss me and tell me I [stink]. Go ahead. If they don’t want me to do the job, tell them to tell management. I’ve done a lot of good for this team but, you know, let them boo.”

Note Kevin Millar didn’t come to Foulke’s defense by begging fans to boo him instead.

That chip on Keith Foulke’s shoulder somehow got even bigger last night when he was surrounded by four or five microphones in the Red Sox clubhouse, which must mean that he had to hire a few drivers to cart home the trucks he got in return for talking. Let’s see, give up five runs to hand over a game in which your teammates just fought back to take a lead, one that you’re supposed to protect, and … oh my word, what’s that … are they booing the great and mighty Keith Foulke? The nerve. Well, I just won’t invite them to my party. More cake for me.

Foulke is a joke. And not because of the 6.03 ERA he is now toting around. First, he either lied or covered up something that happened in Birmingham, Ala., unless he just really wasn’t impressed with the grub he was able to get at the Blue Ribbon or the Brookline Smokehouse. Then there was the whole truck fiasco, where he told a Hartford Courant reporter why he speaks on a weekly basis with WEEI’s Dale Arnold and Michael Holley, an appearance for which he is compensated with a vehicle. “If you give me a free truck, I’ll talk to you more,” he said.

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Now he’s gone and insulted the fans, many of whom remained steadfastly behind his back thanks to his playoff heroics, which have granted him carte blanche in most New England suburbs. The most hate mail I have received this year came any time I had anything negative to say about the Red Sox closer, which admittedly has been quite often. Folks want to bask in the glory of the memory that was Foulke on the mound in St. Louis, the guy who was there when the Red Sox finally won it all.

That might have changed a bit following his latest tirade in which he basically saw Red Sox fans as John Cusack’s Pig Burger equivalent. They, however, can only dream to pound away on some Claymation-injected ground beef and create a better closer. Frylock and Shake can play the corners.

Some of these ingrates probably couldn’t even afford to give Mr. Keith Foulke a used Duster. That won’t even buy a look in their general direction.

Foulke hasn’t made many friends in the Red Sox front office with his snide comments this season. He’s losing more and more of the fans who have backed him with all their might. And Johnny Damon aside, the way his teammates laid down and played dead after he imploded last night hints that maybe some of them are losing a bit of patience with him as well.

Red Sox fans should boo Foulke, and not because he stinks, which he unarguably has so far this season. No, it is his degrading comments they should boo him for; he sees them as nothing but burger-flipping grease mongers. And what if they are? Maybe if Bob Kraft boos from the front row, it’ll matter to Keith Foulke. But the guy who’s paying his college tuition by dipping into the frialator on a hot New England summer day, who saved an entire week’s pay just to see the likes of Foulke and his teammates play? He couldn’t care less.

Only the low lives of our society would dare boo a player, I guess. And there were 35,000 scumbags at Fenway Park last night. And one cantankerous closer who can’t seem to do anything right in this tumultuous 2005 season.