One week ago, this exercise was getting stale. This week, it’s extremely relevant again, and probably for good. Not only is John Farrell in more potential danger now of losing his job than he has been at any point this year — he probably ought to be. New shit has come to light, man.
Last month, I wrote that the major problem facing Farrell wasn’t necessarily poor play but team infighting. These Red Sox will be good in the long haul if they’re healthy, full stop, so a few losses in a row ought theoretically be easy to swallow. I was more worried about the team acting like a bunch of unchecked idiots, like they did in L’Affaire Machado, a totally avoidable and stupid manbaby feud that made David Price’s inexplicable tirade against CSN NE’s Evan Drellich look like a PhD thesis by comparison.
Still, both of these things were bad, and served, if nothing else, as tangible consequences from the metaphorical long rope Farrell gives his players. If that had been all of it, it might have merely served as a reminder that a players-first approach — or, to be clear, this players first approach — can have some unfortunate consequences in the bruised-ego department.
We’re way past that now. The largely undisputed play-by-play of Price et. al’s confrontation with NESN’s Dennis Eckersley paints the team a bunch of spoiled assholes, and Farrell’s response effectively makes it plain that either his hands or tied or he simply doesn’t care, or, most likely, some combination of both. (Those slamming Shaughnessy, by the way, are missing the point so hard I cannot help but be proud.)
Farrell has said that the current mess is no different than other clubhouse messes he’s seen, and I believe him. I, too, remember the disastrous 2014 and 2015 seasons, and would prefer not to relive them. If Price’s large stack makes him impervious to being labeled the sucker at the poker table as shit goes to pot, it probably redounds Farrell, who has been here three times with this team and probably won’t make it to a fourth.
The main difference between this team and the dysfunctional teams of yesteryear is that this team is still in first place, but I’m not sure it matters. I’m not sure it matters if the Red Sox win the World Series, frankly. I think it’s time for a split in the best interests of everyone, Farrell included. I’m increasingly wondering why Farrell would want to come back to finish out his lame-duck contract in 2018 if he has to deal with Darth Price in the clubhouse. About that...
The truth about David Price: Never believe what teams say publicly. A recurrence of his elbow issue, source says, "was a long time coming."— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 28, 2017
Oy. The difference between this season and last really is a tale of two Davids. “Leadership” is a necessarily subjective category, but in speaking with Drellich yesterday, he told me that Ortiz was always forthcoming with reporters during obviously touch-and-go clubhouse periods, like during a losing-streak, and no one has really picked up that mantle now. It is perhaps for this reason -- and this is me speculating -- that without a clear obvious player representative in the clubhouse and without manager inclined to even aspire to it, small beefs have been blown up to maniacal proportions as a perverse team-building exercise.
Now it has gone wrong, and there’s little reason to think that, in the long term, it will stabilize itself. Drellich said that it is obvious Pedroia doesn’t want the role and it’s not really Mookie Betts’ thing. This is fine, but if they’re not going to do it, they need a manager who will. Farrell has long felt like a square peg in a round pole, but things were okay so long as the peg held the boat together. Now that the box is being eaten by termites, not to mention the bats, what good is the peg?
I’m putting Farrell at a shocking 8.5/11 Danger Points this week, because I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he was fired by this point next week in the event a losing streak. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Sox win six in a row and things are groovy again, by the way. That’s just how this ship sails. It’s all chaos: it churns your stomach no matter what, and no matter how beautiful our destination, we’ll all be sick when we get there. With clubhouse egos this large, Farrell has never seemed so small, and I’ve never felt so sharkbitten. We really are going to need a bigger boat.