Thursday, October 13, 2011

Truly Disgusting

Table of contents: 1) Francona’s personal life, 2) Irene and Yacht Week, 3) The Media Blowup, 4) Carl Crawford off the hook.

Look, I worked in baseball for three years, and I’ll be honest with you: I have a lot of secrets about baseball players’ personal lives. This includes details from past and present members of the Boston Red Sox. I also have the business cell phone number of a member of the Red Sox’ front office, someone who has been discussed on this blog before. I also have a blog, and when I started this blog, I had none of the information I am currently referring to. Like Eric Ortiz, I also had access to my blog in the wee hours of the morning on January 1, 2011. Nevermind, that’s irrelevant. I never spilled any of these beans.

Whoever in the Red Sox’ upper management, most likely John Henry, Larry Lucchino, or Tom Werner, decided to do his best to smear Terry Francona through this morning’s Bob Hohler Boston Globe article. The revelations that he was having marital problems, living in a Brookline hotel, and popped a couple of pills were a low blow. The fact that the implication of the article was that he had a substance abuse problem (something that was dismissed in March by a team medical specialist, not that those guys have much credibility in the first place) is especially bad.

It marks the latest in a string of smear campaigns against any popular figure who left Boston, and this one really crossed a lot of lines that it shouldn’t have crossed. It also seems that one of the three mentioned above dictated this one to the Boston Globe, similar to the way Lucchino and Dr. Charles Steinberg dictated the infamous “dirty laundry” article to Shaughnessy in 2005. The Globe, who employs Hohler and Shaughnessy, is owned by the NY Times Company, who still owns a portion of the Red Sox team.

The Hohler article talked about a lot of things, which you can get by reading it or getting any slew of recaps from any Boston media outlet ( did the best, in my opinion). But the one that got everyone talking was the stuff about Francona’s marriage and pills. It says more about the “anonymous sources” than it does about Terry Francona, and my sentiment is aligned with most of the sentiment on talk radio today.

It sounds like retaliation for the off-script comment from Francona about ownership not having his back, and if it is from Lucchino, Henry, and friends it’s not surprising. It’s becoming more and more obvious these people are vengeful, proud, and generally bad-spirited people who care about nobody else. In other words, they’re a lot like the players they hired. They’re children who are determined to get the last laugh and determined to escape blame no matter what. We can only hope that the public backlash against the clear puppetmasters behind this article can come across worse than Francona does, because this part of the article says a lot more about them than it does about Francona. People get divorced, and the pills were not a problem. Nevermind Lebron James, this might be the end of me with this organization until it’s sold. More on this later.

Regarding Hurricane Irene and Yacht Week, this part’s easier to write. It’s a one-day personification of what the 2011 Red Sox were on the field and off. Crying about rain, crying about scheduling, crying about Sunday Night Baseball, crying about interleague play. This time they were crying about the idea of playing baseball twice on a Saturday because Hurricane Irene was coming on a Sunday. Many players visibly protested, as they allegedly accused ownership of caring more about the gate than winning. A fair gripe. Turns out, the doubleheader was played in the rain on Saturday. To appease this group of children, John Henry bought them all headphones and then took them on a players-only party on the yacht. And they still cried about it for the rest of the season! Pat described this as dealing with a group of teenage girls. Check!

Another thing that melted down on Wednesday was the Boston media. Much of it was killing ownership for a lot of this stuff. They tried to enumerate who looked bad in the wake of this, and it’s pretty much everyone. You’ve got a clique of pitchers eating some fried chicken and drinking beer during games. The “Captain” showed his leadership by continuing to do the personal catching stuff. But then around 3:00 PM, they started cannibalizing each other. Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti, who share the best radio show in Boston, said if in ownership’s eyes it’s okay to start talking about personal stuff, it might be time to talk about John Henry’s two divorces or Jason Varitek’s divorce and the role of a certain NESN reporter in there. They even dropped Heidi Watney’s name, and she was apparently listening and standing by the Twitter machine. She started chirping about Felger’s lack of professionalism. In response, Joe Haggerty of Comcast SportsNet New England said that Heidi wrote the book on journalistic integrity. If she has all this journalistic integrity (nevermind sleeping with Varitek, which she never denied), what was she reporting on when the clubhouse was going down in flames. They’re starting to kill each other, which I’ve never seen before. Considering there are some intertwined alliances between the two competing TV networks and the two competing radio stations, it’s going to be rowdy.

The whole Varitek/Watney/leadership stuff all came from a rumor (confirmed by Watney) that Carl Crawford’s “Talk to the Captain” remarks were said not to Gordon Edes, but to her. If that was a reference to their fling in 2008-2009, which it sounds like, Carl Crawford is off of my “fired” list. How are you supposed to exist in a place where you used to be a leader (he once pinned Pat Burrell against a wall when he was acting like a prick; Burrell was traded the next week), but now you’re surrounded by fake leaders like Varitek, ineffective leaders like Pedroia sitting in the manager’s office playing cribbage with his boy, and guys who don’t care at all. He called a team meeting to call them out in September; it was not effective.  It's nice to know that someone was panicking.  I very well may buy a Crawford t-shirt and then be done buying Red Sox stuff, including tickets, for a long time:  The players suck, the manager and GM are gone, and ownership is a group of scumbags that have no lines of decency.


The GM said...

Lucchino: "There were several articles in the Globe."

"Our obligation is entertaining, winning baseball."

Nice to know that he could give flip comments, and then prioritize "entertaining" over "winning."

The GM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It's amazing that Theo Epstein leaving for the Cubs is a secondary story. And that's not a media creation. It is legitimately the second most interesting story in Boston behind the multi-layered dysfunctionality of that organization. That article by Hohler yesterday was one of the best - and most shocking - pieces of sports journalism I've seen in a while. There were so many things wrong on so many levels. The few who I've heard try to defend it have used the "that stuff happens when we win and it's no big deal". I'm usually a huge proponent of that philosophy, and it might apply to some things here, but overall it falls well short. There are fundamental cultural/attitude/professionalism problems within that organization. Most of it is downright hysterical from the outside, and that's not a good thing.

Let's not pretend that Theo and Francona didn't make their own contributions to this mess. But it is clear there were problems bigger and above them. No wonder they both got out. On that front, the smear stuff is just getting ridiculous. 2004-2009 was this organization's most successful run in nearly a century. The peoplewho have left the last few years have mostly been contributors to that. ONE TIME, can we let one of them leave without petty smear campaigns? ONE TIME?! Its every single time, players, now the manager, and I wouldn't be shocked to hear some Theo stuff soon as well. This has been a huge topic, even down here, which is a problem.

A lot of this stuff is just unbelievable, even for someone who watched the 2005-2008 Yankees. There are a lot of similarities. The Yankees just always kept it from spiraling completely out of control. That's pretty much where Boston is now.

Anonymous said...


I'm not even going to address much of your post because all I can do is agree with it. This team is a mess and it starts at the top and makes its way down (as if often the case).

I would like to point out that David Ortiz is on the Theo Epstein train--talking about leaving town and talking about how there's too much drama in Boston.

First things first--both guys have every right to leave Boston. This is America and you can do what you want. We all have to respect that right. But none of us have to respect that decision. And I don't. For either Ortiz or Epstein. With Ortiz, his leaving probably isn't the biggest deal--it's $12 million off the books, he's 36 years old and while he was quite good this year (check out the stats--not bad for an old guy who allegedly is off the juice). His getting out of town is more sad than anything else. He was a great player on the best teams in franchise history and he provided Sox fans with more great memories by himself than the every team from the 1980's and 90's combined.

Epstein is different. He is largely responsible for the mess the Sox are in. He picked those players. He offered those contracts. He brought in a group of players who have neither the work ethic nor the character to prevail through age and adversity. And now he's just leaving? That's the cowards way out. Things get tough, so I'm leaving. Taking my ball and going home. What would Yankee fans think about Brian Cashman if he had left after the 2008 season and taken over as GM of the Cardinals? He didn't do that. He stayed right there. Fixed the mess that was the '08 Yankees and made them into a World Champion once again.

Theo Epstein isn't completely to blame for 2011. But he's at or near the top of a very short list. And for him to just run out after the fire says that he's not the strong-willed individual that you'd like to have running your favorite team.

At the very least, his leaving significantly increases the chances that the Red Sox start nailing free agency instead of getting set back three years every time they sign a free agent.

--the Gunn

Anonymous said...

Great comment, Gunn.

I just want to add to my compliments of the article that I do not agree with the way in which it facilitated personal accusations against Terry Francona. I agree with GM that is personal business. To the extent it is included - whether one agrees with it or not - I think you need something stronger than anonymous sources. Anonymously throwing baseball-related stuff under the bus? Not ideal, but fine. Baseball generally isn't hurting anybody. Anonymously throwing personal stuff under the bus isn't right I don't think. It's not fair to have Francona's alleged issues out there publicly while the source(s) risk(s) little if anything.