As the new old saying goes, it's not January on the South Side of Chicago until Gordon Beckham tries to explain what went wrong the previous season.
I guess it must be January, even if my calendar says November, because Scott Merkin posted the annual Beckham check-up on Thursday. Perhaps they had to get a jump on it, because Beckham might not be around when we ring in 2014.
You can toss these quotes onto the pile composed of his affirmations over the previous three winters:
"You can't ever assume that it's just going to be good from here on out," Beckham told MLB.com during an end-of-season interview. "I definitely feel like I understand my swing better, I understand what it takes to be a big league baseball everyday player. I'll just keep progressing on that.
"What I've learned is pretty simple: It's just go play the game and let everything else take care of itself. You have to stay even keel. You can't live on the highs and the lows so much."
The two differences from this year's story:
- He's getting married this week; last winter he had just gotten engaged.
- He had the broken hamate bone in April.
The second would be far more compelling had he not already failed in two bids for rebound sesons. It's not just that Beckham hasn't come close to matching the .808 OPS from his rookie season -- he hasn't even had one month with an OPS over .800 in any of his last three seasons. That's 17 consecutive months, or 18 if you count September of 2010. He barely played that month due to a bone bruise, which was a shame after two truly great months, so that seems unnecessary.
Either way, you know the drill -- take the Beckham redemption either with a grain of salt, or with a smidge of editorial liberty. For instance, it doesn't look so off this way:
If Beckham stays healthy in '14, the learning process brought about by past struggles could have him primed for that expected breakout
That seems like a much more reasonable goal. And November and January don't count.