Huge news in Red Sox Nation yesterday. HUGE NEWS.
Andrew Bailey, the team’s presumptive closer going into spring training, finally came off the disabled list last night, and held the Baltimore Orioles scoreless over a one-out appearance.
And we thought this was Bobby V’s low point.
Oh wait, that’s not it?
Huge news. HUGE.
Josh Beckett got roughed up yet again last night, pitching five and a third innings and giving up six earned runs – three on a home run with Beckett’s runners on that Mark Melancon gave up in relief of Beckett, but still. The 7-1 loss dropped Beckett’s record to a lowly 5-10, and was, in a nutshell, not what the Red Sox needed. I fully expect Beckett effigies to start appearing on Yawkey Way any day now (not that the offense did much better – one run? Come on, guys).
With the loss, the Sox fell to 57-60, and failed to pick up a game in the standings against not only an AL East competitor, but also to a team directly ahead of them in the wild card race.
Oh wait, that’s not it, either?
How about this: huge news in Red Sox Nation. HUGE.
There’s somewhat of a mutiny afoot. Back on July 26, while the team was in New York, Adrian Gonzalez, who claimed to represent a group of players (p.s. – NOW Adrian Gonzalez acts like a leader?), sent a text message to the team and ownership. The text, according to story-breaker Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, blasted manager Bobby Valentine for leaving starting pitcher Jon Lester in Boston’s July 22 game to get blasted for 11 runs, embarassing Lester and shortening the lifespans of Red Sox fans everywhere in one fell swoop.
A meeting followed between a group of players and ownership, and to read Passan’s piece, people are p-i-s-s-e-d. Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia were the most vocal, and some players flat-out said that they didn’t want to play baseball for Valentine anymore.
Interjection: if these players call their lollygagging the ball around the infield, their lollygagging their way down to first, their lollygagging in and out of the dugout, “playing baseball,” then I’m not sure I want them playing baseball for Valentine anymore either. Because you know what that makes them? Larry? Lollygaggers! Lollygaggers.
Passan notes, and I think this is important, that not all the players share Gonzalez’s and Pedroia’s and their amorphous scary-sounding “group of players” concern – many players, it appears, feel that Valentine is being unfairly scapegoated for the team’s sheer inability to play baseball with any modicum of skill, competitiveness, or, lately, professionalism.
Ben Cherington and the ownership, predictably, gave some boring quotes about how the front office was behind Valentine and was committed to him managing at least through the season and blah blah blah. Boring, but what do you expect? They’re really going to say that they made a mistake with the hiring? That would open up the Terry Francona drama all over again (oh, and interestingly, this text message was sent at around the same time that Francona spent 45 minutes hanging out with his old players in the Sox clubhouse a few weeks back – coincidence?).
Readers, let’s get serious for a second here. The part of the Passan piece that stands out for me is the part where we really see how immature and terrible some of our most respected, shortest, “team-player,” “grittiest” Red Sox players are. I’m talking to you, Pedroia. Compare this quote, from the Red Sox’ wrap of last night’s game, to Pedroia’s antics as described by Passan. First, the wrap quote:
We’re going to go out and play as hard as we can. That’s all we can do. We’ve dug ourselves this hole and we’ve got to try to dig ourselves out of it. We’ve got to be professional, go out and grind out at-bats, play good defense and pitch well. That’s it.
Second, from the simply illuminating Passan piece:
From the beginning of the Red Sox’s courtship of Valentine this offseason to the double-barreled votes of confidence last week, the match of the hard-nosed Bobby V with the laissez-faire Boston clubhouse seemed tenuous at best. It has proven far worse, personified best perhaps by a picture circulating around via text message, according to a fourth source.
Pedroia, notorious among teammates for his wit and humor, is in the foreground with a giddy smile, his tongue wagging and both thumbs up. Next to him is allegedly Valentine, face down on a table, apparently asleep. A caption accompanies the picture: “Our manager contemplating his lineup at 3:30 p.m.”
Yeah Dustin, that’s mighty professional of you. Please, please, grow up, and back up your manager. That’s part of your job. And if you can’t do that, at least don’t strut around acting like a professional baseball player – because to me, the word “professional” has a much greater connotation than just the simple fact that you get paid (millions of dollars) to play a game.
Passan’s story has a lot of meat to it, and I recommend that you read it in full. It describes a clubhouse in flux, a mercurial manager who has made some terrible baseball and personnel decisions with only the veneer of front-office approval, and hints at another major scapegoating to come in the offseason (because, as we all know, the fact that the players are playing badly can’t just be the player’s fault – clearly, Valentine has to go so that the Red Sox PR machine can roll on unencumbered).
I also recommend that you read this internet gem, which makes an amazing play on the iPhone’s tendency to autocorrect text misspellings in hilarious ways. Somewhere, Adrian Gonzalez is blushing.
If it even matters anymore, the Red Sox are playing in Baltimore again tonight. Aaron Cook (3-5, 4.70 ERA) starts in place of Felix Doubront against Miguel Gonzalez (4-2, 3.42 ERA).
Just ridiculous. Ridiculous.