Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Red Sox Players Only Ones to be Blamed for Losing

How has a model franchise come crashing down so fast?
Okay so for the last 11 months SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight and FOX Sports and just about everyone else who covers baseball has been constantly talking about the Red Sox, their historic tank job last September, and the debacle that has followed.  Just your basic, history-making, September collapse that made my 2007 Mets look good and got arguably the best GM and Manager the team had ever had fired in a span of a month.
After the Sox fired Terry Francona, they brought in Bobby Valentine, as you probably know.  And it's been an unmitigated disaster.  Tha Sawx are in fourth place in their Division and out of the wild card while playing sub .500 ball.  Josh Beckett can't take the mound without a) getting shelled and b) getting booed off the field.  Bobby V can't even pull Beckett without getting obliterated.  Carl Crawford is playing hurt.  Jon Lester, the ace who prior to this season was a top 5 picther in the AL, has a 5.20 ERA and two wins since Memorial Day.  John Lackey is double fisting beers in the clubhouse while recovering from Tommy John surgery (code for 'John, you had a 6.41 ERA last year, sit a couple plays out').

Now, according to Yahoo! Sports, Sox cornerstones like Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia texted ownership and management to complain about Valentine because he, among other things, left Jon Lester in to get smoked for 11 runs in a game in the last month.  Then an all-hands meeting was called with 17 other players, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, so that more Sox could voice their displeasure with Valentine.  In other words, Boston has a mutiny on their hands. All of this eight days after Boston owner John Henry sent out a mass email basically endorsing Valentine and telling the media to stop making fun of him. Classic.
Bottom line: just play.  Like it or not, Red Sox players, you brought this upon yourselves.  You choked away that lead in September last year, not Terry Francona and certainly not Theo Epstein.  And as Red Sox nation panicked following that September night, Francona was fired and Epstein was driven out.  Now with a new man in charge, Sox players have the audacity to blame them being decidedly bad with the second highest payroll in the major leagues on the manager?  Are these guys for real?  Boo hoo if Bobby V doesn't let you do whatever you want like Tito did.  It's your own fault he was brought in, be professionals and play for the man who is paid to be your manager.
Is Valentine insane?  Yes, probably.  I watched him manage when he was in charge of the Mets and the man is totally off the reservation.  But to blame him for Crawford's elbow, Jacoby Ellsbury being injured, Beckett being terrible, Daniel Bard turning into a pumpkin, and Lester pitching like he's in A ball is just ludicrous.  Boston's problems were never with the manager, Francona or Valentine.  They were then and are now about players who are either injured, playing poorly, or, in some cases, both.  Boston used to be a model franchise with a decade of success ahead of them.  Now they're just the Yankees of the mid-2000s (how's THAT for irony?).
The Sox are better off cleaning house.  Keep Pedroia, Gonzalez, Bard, and Lester and start over.  The fans won't go anywhere.

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