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BOSTON (CBS) — Have you had enough yet?
Have you had enough of the drama? The backstabbing? The whining millionaires? The lies from management? The relentless insistence that everything is OK, that the team is just one winning streak away from playoff contention? Have you had enough of the never-ending soap opera within the Red Sox clubhouse?
The latest chapter involves Red Sox players — led by Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia — holding a meeting with ownership in which they complained about manager Bobby Valentine. They said that Valentine “embarrassed” Jon Lester by leaving him in a game too long, and they were upset with several of Valentine’s methods. There were reportedly 17 players present for the meeting, and they told John Henry and Larry Lucchino that they no longer wanted to play for Valentine.
Let us all let out a collective “Wahhhhhh” in honor of these poor, poor Red Sox players.
If you hadn’t reached the point of exasperation with this year’s squad prior to this report, this has to be the last straw. The players — and notably fan favorite Pedroia — proved that while they may get paid to play baseball, they’re certainly not professionals. They went behind their manager’s back to try to get him fired, and why? Because their star pitcher couldn’t get anyone out against Toronto? Because Valentine refused to play patty-cake with his players?
Give me a break.
Valentine has surely shown his faults this season. In April, he very much looked the part of a 61-year-old who hadn’t managed in the majors in a decade. He left some pitchers in far too long, he took others out too soon, he seemed too timid to argue with umpires and looked as though the game was moving far too fast for him. That may have rubbed some players the wrong way, but he did seem to catch up to speed by May.
Regardless, short of Valentine trashing players’ lockers and keying their fancy cars, could the skipper really have done anything that warranted the majority of his roster to cry to ownership that they’re done playing for him?
Of course, the players aren’t out of their minds to think they hold that sort of power. It was the players, after all, who walked all over Terry Francona, took advantage of the “relaxed” clubhouse last season and cruised their way to the worst September collapse in baseball history. After they walked off the field in Baltimore with their heads down, it was Francona who fell on the sword and packed up his office at Fenway. He played along with ownership, initially saying it was his own choice to walk away from the job he’d held since 2004, but it was immediately obvious that he was fired.
Apparently, that was enough evidence to empower the players to believe they have the right to decide who’s worthy to be their manager.
It shouldn’t be surprising. This is the same organization that publicly supported Josh Beckett when he went golfing, despite being held out of a start due to a lat injury. Rather than force Beckett to apologize to his teammates and the fans who pay his salary, ownership let Beckett be. He instead offered the fans a firm middle finger with his “I do what I want on my 18 off days” speech.
Until now, that was the black mark on the season, but given that this one involved Gonzalez texting the owners, Pedroia taking charge in the meeting (and starring in a mocking picture message of Valentine passed around among teammates), the owners being stuck in a mess they created and the manager having seemingly no support in his clubhouse, it’s safe to say this one’s a bit worse.
And as is the case with any Red Sox drama, this one wouldn’t be complete without some truly pitiful spin control offered from the folks in charge.
“We are not making a change in manager,” John Henry said just last week. “We have been nothing but supportive of him inside and outside of the clubhouse. Stories that imply otherwise are due to speculation that is not warranted at all by the facts.”
That’s very nice … but general manager Ben Cherington confirmed that the meeting in July took place. When the players complain that they don’t want to play for their manager anymore, is giving them a forum to air their grievances the best sign of support for the skipper? Wouldn’t a simple response of “Shut up and play baseball” send a better message?
Alas, Tuesday’s report fits in just perfectly with the Red Sox this season. They’re heading nowhere with a sub-.500 record, their best players are playing poorly, and they’ve added the exclamation point of simply not being a likable bunch.
On April 21, after the Red Sox lost 15-9 to the Yankees, Valentine told reporters, “I think we’ve hit rock bottom.”
Clearly, he had no idea what he was in for. It’s just gotten worse since then, and it appears as though it will only continue to deteriorate.
These are your 2012 Boston Red Sox, and unfortunately for you, you’ve got another month and a half to watch them crumble.