The collapse of the 2011 Boston Red Sox has had significant fallout already, as manager Terry Francona is gone and general manager Theo Epstein appears to be on his way out as well.
And, since it's Boston -- just as would be the case in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. -- the local crowd is ready to place blame. Things unraveled on a team that was expected by many to win the World Series, so it's someone's fault. Well, you have Francona and Epstein. Carl Crawford was awful after signing a huge contract. John Lackey was terrible again. But there's more ...
The Boston Globe has given us several scapegoats. Let's try to sum it up -- again, this is all via Boston.com:
• Francona reportedly lost control of the team amidst problems with his health and marriage, though he took exception to the claims.
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On the "health" front, the report painted a picture of Francona's reliance on pain-killers.
• Reportedly the Red Sox players were angry that, in late August, they were forced to play a day-night doubleheader due to Hurricane Irene and complained to management that it cared more about money than winning. After that doubleheader, the Red Sox would not win two straight games again all season.
• Tim Wakefield reportedly cared more about getting his 200th win than the team overall doing well. “I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record,’’ Wakefield told Fox Sports.
• Team captain Jason Varitek reportedly stopped exerting leadership in the clubhouse, while only Dustin Pedroia "and a few other players" remained fully committed to winning.
• And now the big one. The starting rotation, specifically Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and occasionally Clay Buchholz have been accused of regularly drinking beer and eating fast-food fried chicken while playing video games in the clubhouse during games. From the Boston.comarticle:
Drinking beer in the Sox clubhouse is permissible. So is ordering take-out chicken and biscuits. Playing video games on one of the clubhouse’s flat-screen televisions is OK, too. But for the Sox pitching trio to do all three during games, rather than show solidarity with their teammates in the dugout, violated an unwritten rule that players support each other, especially in times of crisis.Needless to say, this isn't going to sit well with Red Sox Nation.
Sources said Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, who were joined at times by Buchholz, began the practice late in 2010. The pitchers not only continued the routine this year, sources said, but they joined a number of teammates in cutting back on their exercise regimens despite appeals from the team’s strength and conditioning coach Dave Page.
“It’ s hard for a guy making $80,000 to tell a $15 million pitcher he needs to get off his butt and do some work,’’ one source said.
For Beckett, Lester, and Lackey, the consequences were apparent as their body fat appeared to increase and pitching skills eroded. When the team needed them in September, they posted a combined 2-7 record with a 6.45 earned run average, the Sox losing 11 of their 15 starts.
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