In the aftermath of the Red Sox September collapse and the subsequent cleaning of house that has already begun, I’ve been pleased to see that several people within the Red Sox organization have been very vocal in defending the organization. There’s no doubt that the media is having a field day with this one, and many of the voices I’ve wanted to hear from have since surfaced; Terry Francona, Theo Epstein, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Heidi Watney, John Henry and now Jon Lester. Lester’s voice has been amongst the most important, as he’s one of the players being dubbed as a delinquent fried chicken eating and beer guzzling asshole. In a rare move, Lester directly contacted several Boston area media outlets yesterday to tell his side of the story – one that directly reflects the sentiments I’ve been sharing all along, and one that reflects the feedback we’ve heard from the others who have already spoken.
On food and drink being clubhouse commonplace – and not the issue:
Jon Lester, October 17, 2011 – “Did we drink an occasional beer? Yes. Did it affect our performance in September? No. This stuff has been going on long before September, and not only in this clubhouse, but 29 other clubhouses too. We ordered fried chicken maybe three times in six months. Other guys who were not playing that day would come in and have a bite to eat. This sort of thing has happened for 100 years. I’ve been trying to say that all day. This is not something new. We didn’t invent rally beers. Babe Ruth was smoking cigars and eating hotdogs in between at-bats.”
howiGit, October 13, 2011 – “I personally work in an office that encourages beer, friend chicken, and ping-pong - and I can tell you that it’s not an issue – in fact, it likely improves job performance among most employees. The issue is not these freedoms, it’s when they’re taken for granted. Look in the majority of the clubhouses in major league baseball and I bet you find plenty of beer and video games.”
On searching for a scapegoat:
Jon Lester, October 17, 2011 – “But what people are trying to do is a witch hunt. They’re looking for any reason to basically tear somebody’s head off because we lost, and people right now are saying it’s because we did this. I’m not shying away from saying I did it. I admit it, and I’m sure the other guys would say it too. In 2004 those guys were celebrated as ‘The Idiots’ and they were drinking shots. What’s the difference? They won and we lost, so we’re devils, we’re bad people.”
howiGit, October 13, 2011 – “And while Hohler’s article certainly touches on many questionable behaviors throughout the Red Sox organization this past season, I think it’s time everyone takes a step back and swallows this article for what it is – an attempt to find a scapegoat. In other words, Hohler set out to point out the negatives – not to provide an accurate assessment of why things didn’t work out for the Sox. And while Hohler spent plenty of time detailing ‘what went wrong,’ I think he missed the point.”
On whose fault the collapse was:
Jon Lester, October 17, 2011 – “This was not a frat party. This was not mayhem with guys going every which way, not answering to anybody. That was not the case at all. When all is said and done, none of this was Tito’s fault, or Theo (Epstein)’s fault, or the fault of Larry Lucchino or John Henry or Tom Werner. It was not the trainer, Mike Reinold, or (assistant trainers) Greg Barajas or Masai (Takahashi) or (strength coach) Dave Page. It was not their fault. It was our fault. That’s the message I’m trying to get across. It’s not about beers, it’s not about Tito, it’s not whether there were no rules, it’s not anything. It’s performance. And we didn’t do it. I’m not making excuses for what we did. I’m owning up to what I did. But I can honestly tell you that I was prepared every five days — and so were the other guys — to go out and perform. We were physically prepared to perform. But I stunk, plain and simple. I’m not going to shy away from that. I stunk. But we lost because we did not play good baseball. We did not execute Boston Red Sox good baseball.”
howiGit, October 13, 2011 – “The Globe got it wrong this time – it’s not the beer or the video games’ fault. It’s the players that should be held accountable for their own inability to perform.”
On chipped shoulders:
Jon Lester, October 17, 2011 – “I think a lot of guys are going to have chips on their shoulder next spring, there will be an urgency, they want to prove people wrong. We still care about each other, we care about winning. That’s the main issue I’m trying to express. We care. We want to win. We want to be professional. We’re all still good guys, regardless of what the public thinks of us.”
howiGit, October 14, 2011 – “Chipped shoulders – The guys that do remain from the 2011 team (and their will be plenty of them) will play next season with a chip on their shoulder. Most of the “problem” guys should land elsewhere. There is no way than anyone involved in this collapse will forget it – you better believe they’ll be playing with some extra fire to avenge what happened. In my eyes, that’s a very dangerous X-factor. You better believe Jonathan Papelbon wants that ball back in his hand if he sticks around – that attitude coupled with talent can be scary.”
The point of this all this that while the Red Sox undoubtedly had some issues, the picture being painted of them in the media is a deliberate attempt to find something, anything but the players’ performance to blame this collapse on. I think so, Lester thinks so, Pedroia thinks so, Ortiz, Henry, and my girl Heidi think so.
Want something new to think about with regards to the Red Sox? Think about how bad Jonathan Papelbon must feel now given the Francona / Epstein fallout. If he hadn’t blown that final save when he needed only one more out, this whole fiasco might have been avoided – and who knows where the Sox would be this late in October.