This entire episode – the July meeting in New York, the text messages from Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia, the entire soap opera that is a below-.500 team finding the gall to blame its issues on its manager – has taken an even more bizarre and blatantly uncommunicative turn. Yesterday, instead of addressing the issues head on, talking straight with the media and the fans, and giving Red Sox Nation any smidgen of hope that ownership had its hands on the wheel of this Titanic, we get this, from Larry Lucchino:
“We are very concerned about a breach of confidence in this matter because in the 10 years we’ve held these meetings, we’ve never had information leak like this.”
Really, Larry? Your most pressing concern in this matter is that, basically, someone told on you? That’s the big takeaway here? Don’t you think that’s a little… out of touch?
Look, Larry, I’m no public relations maven, and I don’t work for the Red Sox. I’m a lawyer, like you, and I have the same training you have. I see what you’re trying to do here: group people with opposing viewpoints together behind a common cause, get them all angry at the Other Guy, find the Other Guy, destroy the Other Guy, invite everyone out for a celebratory drink together, revel in newfound satisfaction.
But, this time, it’s utterly transparent. Nobody cares, really, about who leaked the story of the meeting – it will probably remain a mystery forever, along with what was in those shakes in the Dominican Republic (David Ortiz is on it, and will let you know), the identity of the chicken and beer snitch (Josh Beckett’s on the case, folks!), and why Heidi Watney really left town (I’m going to just leave that one alone). A lot of internet whodunit commenters think backup catcher Kelly Shoppach spilled the meeting on his way out of town. Who cares?
Let’s say we learn that the snitch is Kelly Shoppach. Big deal, it’s Kelly Shoppach. That doesn’t change the substance of the meeting, and it doesn’t change the obvious rampant discord up and down the Sox organization right now. It seems to me that it’s far more important to address WHAT was said, than it is to bluster about WHO said it.
And, it’s amazing how quickly the players have toed the company line on this. Ortiz, one of the last vestiges of 2004, the guy everyone looks to when the team needs a boost, said the following:
I hope it’s not someone on the team. Maybe it’s coming from outside. A lot of this stuff comes from outside, from people who we never see here. It doesn’t come from the reporters who cover the team because they know what’s going on.
Note that Ortiz didn’t address the actual point, either: whether there’s a disconnect between players, management, and the front office, and where in the system the fault lies. He’s blaming the media – just not the beat writers who play a huge role in forming and maintaining his public image.
And, from Bobby Valentine, the victim in this entire exhausting vortex of doom:
I don’t know if it’s weighing on me, but the guys are upset that every time we win a game, something else pops out of the bag of tricks. I guess this guy was sitting on the story for about three weeks and decided to wait right before the Yankees series to pop it out there. Great stuff, really good stuff.
Excuse me while I look up “Stockholm Syndrome” on Wikipedia.
OK, and, we’re back. According to the same Globe article, both Pedroia and Gonzalez have denied going after Valentine, and they’re both playing innocent now. Pedroia pretty much took a stance of “I have no idea what any of you are talking about, who is Bobby Valentine and why am I being paid millions of dollars to throw a little white ball around a massive backyard?”
Gonzalez gave a slightly more illuminating quote, telling WEEI.com (via the Globe) that Valentine “knows exactly what happened. He knows the truth. This happened a month ago, and so that’s all been cleared. Somebody decides to write about it. It’s already old.” What does that mean? Something did happen, but Pedroia doesn’t remember it, but it did happen, but it was, like, an entire month ago, dude, and nobody cares about it, except for all the millions of fans that obviously do care about it?
I don’t buy it. In fact, there’s only one quote in the entire Globe article that I trust. Kelly Shoppach (careful, everyone, I think I just found the Other Guy!), according to the Globe, told the New York Daily News that “there is a disconnect in communication between the players and upper management.”
Thank you, Kelly Shoppach, you are the most trustworthy of the Boston Red Sox. And, (you hardly ever hear this these days) congratulations on managing to get traded to the New York Mets – I think if we give it another week or two, that trade could be the best career move you’ve ever made. Amazin’!
Oh, right, the actual baseball games that our Greek Chorus of Misdirection and Backtracking is presumably paid to play. The Sox beat (!!!!) the Orioles last night, 6-3, on a beautiful eight-inning, three-run effort by Clay Buchholz that included a nine-pitch, three-strikeout bottom of the sixth, only the 47th time in history that’s happened. Alfredo Aceves picked up the save, the meat of the Red Sox batting order stepped up, and nothing terrible happened. I’ll take it. With this year’s Red Sox (currently 58-61 and 6.5 games out of the playoffs) track record, you take these wins where you can get them and you don’t talk about them too much for fear they might disappear. Kind of like fairies, or the prospect of a snow day on a Monday morning.
The Red Sox roll into New York tonight (the scene of the crime, Larry Lucchino, bring your CSI kit!) to kick off a three-game set with the Yankees. The Yankees, in case you haven’t heard, lead all of Major League Baseball in pretty much every category: win-loss record, Mystique, good looks, the slimming look of pinstripes – everything. The Red Sox? Kind of remind me of the guy they kept locked up in the basement in the Goonies. They could break out, be awesome, and save the day by running the zipline on a pirate ship, but more than likely, they’ll live for candy bars and attention from endomorphic pre-teen boys who manage to get themselves stuck in the same room as them.
At any rate, Franklin Morales (3-3, 3.29 ERA) toes up against Phil Hughes (11-10, 4.44 ERA). With this entire clubhouse soap opera, plus the usual rivalry puffery, plus the added bonus of an ESPN broadcast on Sunday night featuring our very own Terry Francona, ex-Red Sox manager extraordinaire? I’m settling in with some popcorn for this one.