Culture Snob: John Kelly v. Josh Beckett

1214246588It’s time again for Dan Morrell’s Culture Snob, wherein our correspondent sizes up public figures based on their cultural preferences. This week we break down the battle between Red Sox stud Josh Beckett and baseball lifer, John Kelly.

Both of these guys are aces, but you’ve only heard of one of them. John Kelly is the first few lines of Glory Days incarnate—a Leominster High grad, drafted in the 11th round in 1994 (two rounds ahead of Carl Pavano, two rounds after Keith Foulke), who spent 14 years bouncing around various pro leagues. Now 35, he lives in Leominster and pitches for the Brockton Rox—one of those minor league teams whose puzzling name is not at all clarified by their mascot, KO the kangaroo.

Kelly’s record for the past two seasons at Brockton is 15–3, with a 2.13 ERA and 185 strikeouts. Beckett went 20–7 last season with a 3.27 ERA and 194 Ks. But comparing stats isn’t fair—the majors are tougher, Kelly is older, etc.

So here’s another measure:

International Work Experience
Beckett: None
Kelly: Taiwan, Columbia, Italy, Mexico, and Nicaragua

Not only did Kelly pitch in Italy—where I am pretty sure a much-anticipated neighborhood bocce match gets more attendance than a baseball game—but he threw a no-hitter there. And none of his teammates really seemed to care. Wasn’t even asked for an interview after the game—a kind of hands-off press approach Beckett may have really appreciated.

Winner: Kelly

Life-threatening Crises Survived

Beckett: None
Kelly: Two

Well, we can’t really be totally sure about this for Beckett. His aversion to the press makes one of those old titanic Sports Illustrated bonus pieces impossible. But, we do know that Kelly survived an earthquake in Taiwan that killed 2,131 people, and that he ended up sleeping in a field near his apartment for a few nights just to be safe. Also, when he played with Team USA, he survived a stoning attack by locals in Nicaragua, getting away with only a few cuts from the broken glass. These are serious, Job-like tests of a man’s will.

Winner: Kelly

Second Job

Beckett: Founder, Beckett Ventures, Inc.
Kelly: Coach, Concord-Carlisle High School

Coaching is a great way to give back to the community, mold the future, etc, etc. But we have to give Beckett the nod here. Running a game preserve makes him as authentic a Texas character as we could imagine. Yes, he may give curt responses to reporters, but that’s just because every moment he spends yakking at reporters is another minute away from Herradurra Ranch. I mean, this is a guy who told a San Antonio reporter, in reference to last season’s championship run, that he was “just ready to get home, to be completely honest with you. …It’s fun but it definitely makes it a long season when you go all the way to October.” Winning will do that.

Winner: Beckett

Overall: John Kelly

Consider this our advice to the Sox organization: Bring Kelly in for just one game this year, after the season is in hand, to pitch one inning. The guy has worked for 15 years for this. You know how many fawning ESPN, slow-mo tearjerker segments this would get you? Almost enough good press to counteract, you know, moments like this.