Were we suddenly transported to the mid-1990s? All of a sudden the 2 time World Champion, super professional, happy go lucky, automatically win 90 games every year Boston Red Sox are a mangerless, general managerless, dysfunctional, borderline incompetent organization. Yesterday, team owner John Henry interrupted his morning drive to jump in on a sports talk radio show that he thought was misleading listeners about his actions and the organization’s actions over the last few days. Henry sat for over an hour and discussed things like his attempt to keep Theo Epstien in Boston and his opposition to signing Carl Crawford in the first place. He also asserted the the Red Sox were not a mess in the wake of their September Collapse ( that one get capital letters), an assertion contradicted by his mere appearance at the radio show and, to be honest, reality.

The Red Sox are like the 2008 financial crisis. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly for the last few years, record successes followed by major improvements and great prospects for the future. But, when things started to turn, an endemic system of failures and self reinforcing problems revealed it self. First, lets start outside the clubhouse. The Red Sox are the most popular (baseball) team in New England, possibly by virtue of being the only team in New England, and this means that the focus is always on them. There is no competing source of news like there is in New York or Chicago or other places so news outlets need to make sure they are on good terms with the Sox. But that doesn’t mean players or managers or GMs or grounds crew that can come and go, that means the ownership, the guys who will, no matter what, be sticking around. This creates a scenario where ownerships decisions are looked at with rose colored glasses by the media. (Important note: Henry went on the radio show yesterday because he felt that the host were being too critical of him. I’m not referring to that radio show or the others like it, I am referring mostly to the Boston Globe newspaper) This in turn causes the media (the Globe) to be the de facto bullhorn for the ownership and leads to ugly situations like the recent talk over Terry Francona’s marital problems and potential drug abuse. Is any of that relevant? No, Is it probably true? No. But time and time again, people that leave the Red Sox are subject to intense media criticism and bashing in Boston. It happend to Pedro, Nomar, Manny, and now Tito. It creates a environment where the ownership is always told its right, even if it isn’t, and innocent people are needlessly dragged through the mud.

Now, let’s look inside the clubhouse. Since the very day the September Collapse was complete, we’ve been hearing little tidbits about how screwed up the Red Sox clubhouse was all year. The primary culprits have been singled out as Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, and (of course) John Lackey. They have been accused of spending time in the clubhouse playing video games, eating fried chicken, and drinking beer at the expense of their teammates and more importantly, their conditioning. All three gained weight over the course of the season and that has been pointed to as a major reason for their lack of performance over the last month of the season. Your telling me that not one guy in that “happy go lucky” Boston clubhouse could have told the three amigos to get off their collective asses and run? Not David Ortiz or Dustin Pedroia or CAPTAIN Jason Varitek? Not even Manager Terry Francona? For that reason alone, I think he should have been fired. It is the manager’s responsibility, if no one else is willing to step up, to reign in his clubhouse, make sure everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing, and prepare the team to win.

The bottom line is this. Boston has very serious problems from the top down. The ownership group is surrounded by yes-men in the form of the Boston Globe and other media outlets that are beholden to them. This allows for bad decisions to continually be made. The owners have also been accused of making winning a priority rather than the priority, thereby alienating some members of the organization. They have no GM. They have no manager. They have a team made up of old, high priced players who have no in clubhouse leader. They are one of if not the most talented teams in the majors but no one is present to keep the ship righted. They have only one real option going forward. They must hire a strong manager and hope that Adrain Gonzalez, in his second year with the team, steps up to lead. An outside veteran leader clearly isn’t the answer. They must also rid themselves of John Lackey. His on field futility coupled with his off the field histrionics are doubly damaging to this team. The fans hate him and rightfully so. He sucks the energy out of the locker room. Whatever amount of money the Sox have to eat, Lackey must go. I think they should also explore trading Carl Crawford. Not because of his on field results, mind you. I think he’s a top notch player that will continue to have a great career, but because when the owner publicly announces he didn’t want you from the start, it can make things very very uncomfortable. Carl himself probably wants out.


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