Since the season ended in ignominious fashion, we've been treated to daily revelations on what was really the problem with the 2011 Red Sox. You know, besides sucking at baseball for a month. The Red Sox were eating chicken and playing video games. No they weren't. They were drinking in the clubhouse during games. No they weren't. And it was only one beer anyway. But still, no they weren't. They were drinking in the dugout during games. Nope, not even remotely true. Not true, and not by remote. We verified it. Nope. Nope. Nope.
All this gossip, this never ending post-mortem, this exhumation is good for only one entity. That would be the media. It isn't good for the players, and it especially isn't good for the team. This isn't to absolve the players, who were guilty of whatever they were guilty of, of their guilt (how'd you like that there sentence?) but the witch hunt, this march with pitchforks and torches to the town's square with three fifths of the team's starting rotation tied to a tree, has to stop. We're not going to learn anything by throwing potential witches into the river.
Some of the players clearly took advantage of lackadaisical policies by management. But until I read that one of the players took the field drunk, missed a mandatory workout because they were on the tenth level of Face Exploder IV, or passed out beneath the sandwich table naked and covered in chicken skins (preferably with a chicken bucket on their head) then this is all nothing but scapegoating.
In September when his team badly needed him, Jon Lester posted a 5.40 ERA. But ya know what? In May when his team badly needed him, Jon Lester posted a 5.50 ERA. So we know he must have only been drinking during those two months. We know this because exhaustive research I just made up tells us ERA is the best predictor of drunkenness*. Maybe Lester was trying to tell us something. To find out what, I ran "September" and "May" through the Internet Anagram Server and I think I cracked his secret code! So, do any of you know what "Bay Meet Sperm" means?
*Well, right after DIB**
**DIB stands for "Drunkenness Indicator... Barf!"
As for Josh Beckett, his September ERA was by far the worst month of his season. But recall Beckett injured his ankle in a game on September 5th. To that point he had thrown 3.2 innings of no run ball while striking out six and walking one, but was removed following the injury. He didn't pitch until eleven days later. At that point the Red Sox nine and a half game lead in the Wild Card had shrunk to four games. After returning he posted a 6.52 ERA in three starts. I think we can fairly infer from the spike in ERA following the layoff that Beckett spent those eleven days high on crystal meth. Either that or murdering puppies. There's some noise in the data. In any case, we here at OTM are very excited to be the first to bring you this "news."
The truth of all the indiscretions that were taken and the level to which they were taken will probably never be fully known. And guess what? That's fine. The inner workings of a baseball clubhouse are, I imagine, probably very much like a woman's bathroom. From the outside it's mysterious and potentially exciting, but in reality it's just a bunch of angry people walking around in various states of undress and occasionally farting.
This isn't the 1970s when players would snort lines of coke off reporters notepads or come to bat with syringes sticking out of their butts. It isn't the 1950s when players wore flasks instead of jock straps or the 1890s when opium was not only prescribed by the team doctor but sold in the stands to children. The level to which players nowadays could take potentially dangerous behavior is so much less without being highly secretive about it. But we know the implicated players weren't secretive about it.
For those of you rushing to demonize Lester, Lackey, Beckett and whomever else is caught pounding baby seal eyes in tomorrow's paper, do you really think Dustin Pedroia would be cool with a starting pitcher openly drinking on a day they were scheduled to pitch? Would Kevin Youkilis be able to ignore anyone opening drinking on the team's bench? And even if they would, how exactly did NESN or ESPN or Deadspin fail to get a
shot picture of this prevalent behavior?
Drinking a "rally beer" (if you can even call the swill they were drinking beer) might not be the most productive way the players could have spent their time -- I'm actually quite certain of that fact -- but it wasn't the massive dereliction of duty that it's being made out to be either.
As to the fried chicken thing, is there really something so horrible about eating chicken wings during games? As a vegetarian, eating chicken wings would make me puke, but I figure all you meat eaters out there with all your manly digestive enzymes could probably handle a few hot wings before your stomachs reached up and smacked you in the uvula.
I'm going to end this by agreeing with Dan Shaughnessy. The media needs to move on from this, but we all know they won't until the Red Sox give them something else to focus on. The media is very much like a pissy two year old who wants the dog toy but forgets about it the moment it sees it's toy monkey. The only way they're going to let go of that damn dog toy is if the Red Sox hire a new manager and a new General Manager (hopefully not in that order). Those two people must then place themselves in front of The Great Gaggle Of The Unwashed and answer every question thrown at them truthfully.
Then, and this is a vital step, they have to go out and assemble a baseball team to play for Boston in 2012. A good one is preferable. Oh, and if we could keep the drinking in the clubhouse to a minimum that'd probably be a good idea as well.