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Inside The Collapse
October 12, 2011 9:49 AM   Subscribe

The Boston Globe's Bob Hohler gets to the bottom of the Red Sox's epic collapse: Inside are tales of alienated potential MVP candidates, pitchers playing video games and eating take out chicken and biscuits instead of being in the dugout, and older players chasing statistical glory.
posted by reenum (61 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Did the Red Sox pack on the pounds? Stay classy, Boston Globe.
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on October 12, 2011


(Note to Non-Bostonians: 'Statistical Glory' is the name of a legendary turkey who escaped into Yawkee Way threescore years ago. Myth has it that her feathers reverse aging and grant wishes.)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:13 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been a native fan since I was born, but this is thin for the front page.
posted by Melismata at 10:17 AM on October 12, 2011


And Theo is leaving Red Sox Nation for the Cubs.
posted by ericb at 10:18 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


zarq: "Stay classy, Boston Globe."

Two dudes both with guts of their own were discussing this topic at the office this morning.
posted by mkb at 10:18 AM on October 12, 2011


Theo Epstein headed to the Cubs. Who in April would have guessed that the Rays would beat out Boston for the playoffs and Epstein and Francona would be squeezed out?

(On preview, I owe ericb a Coke)
posted by dirigibleman at 10:20 AM on October 12, 2011


Hey Sox fans, remember that Yankees thread a week or so ago?
posted by inigo2 at 10:22 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


What good were Lester, Lackey, and Beckett supposed to do on off days? I mean, they could sit in the dugout telling Tim Wakefield not to be 45 all they wanted, it wasn't going to help.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:23 AM on October 12, 2011


Two dudes both with guts of their own were discussing this topic at the office this morning.

Not sure why the fitness levels of fans discussing this is relevant at all. They're not paid to be athletes. (And please hold the "neither are baseball players" joke, it's not creative.)
posted by inigo2 at 10:23 AM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Did the Red Sox pack on the pounds? Stay classy, Boston Globe.

That seems like kind of a thin treatment of the question, but it's a perfectly legitimate question to ask. Excess weight has a pretty direct affect on much athletic endeavor.

Two dudes both with guts of their own were discussing this topic at the office this morning.

Do those two dudes have jobs that might reasonably be affected by their weight?
posted by OmieWise at 10:26 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't care for the anonymous team sources smearing Terry Francona on his way out the door.
posted by MegoSteve at 10:28 AM on October 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


You gotta admit that guaranteed contracts help MLB and the NBA field competitive teams and ensure parity, conditions that in turn fuel ticket sales and interest, making both leagues more popular than the NFL.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:30 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


OmieWise: Did the Red Sox pack on the pounds? Stay classy, Boston Globe.

That seems like kind of a thin treatment of the question, but it's a perfectly legitimate question to ask. Excess weight has a pretty direct affect on much athletic endeavor.


It's the Globe catering to what the sports audience in the area really wants: The goddamn Herald.
posted by mkb at 10:30 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Did the Red Sox pack on the pounds? Stay classy, Boston Globe.

I honestly don't think there's much difference between the pairs of photos. Nothing to indicate a significant weight gain rather than a bad angle or pose.

What good were Lester, Lackey, and Beckett supposed to do on off days?

I found that part fascinating. Not so much that they were isolating themselves from the rest of the team, but that there was no one with enough authority to get them to stop doing it. I had no idea Terry Francona was going through so much in his life, but the references to him possibly having a problem with prescription painkillers is a bit tabloid-y.
posted by gladly at 10:31 AM on October 12, 2011


The only time drinking was acceptable in the workplace was when I lived in Boston.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:33 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I found that part fascinating. Not so much that they were isolating themselves from the rest of the team, but that there was no one with enough authority to get them to stop doing it.

Most MLB teams pay their managers between 500-800K/year, while some players are making 20+ million/year guaranteed, over many years. If the player doesn't want to listen to the manager, the player's not going to listen to the manager.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:35 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's an account of what pitchers normally do in their off days. I don't see anything about fried chicken and beer, but Boston is where Babe Ruth got his start.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:38 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


OmieWise: " That seems like kind of a thin treatment of the question, but it's a perfectly legitimate question to ask. Excess weight has a pretty direct affect on much athletic endeavor."

That would be news to Babe Ruth. Or Fernando Valenzuela. Goose Gossage. Tony Gwynn. Or Roger Clemens.

There have been plenty of athletes who were not in top physical condition who were excellent baseball players. To blame the Red Sox' apathetic self-destruction on weight gain is an appeal to the lowest common denominator.
posted by zarq at 10:38 AM on October 12, 2011


That would be news to Babe Ruth. Or Fernando Valenzuela. Goose Gossage. Tony Gwynn. Or Roger Clemens.

See also: C.C. Sabbathia.
posted by drezdn at 10:41 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gordon Edes, ESPN: Terry Francona the victim of latest Red Sox smear campaign
posted by MegoSteve at 10:44 AM on October 12, 2011


That seems like kind of a thin treatment of the question, but it's a perfectly legitimate question to ask. Excess weight has a pretty direct affect on much athletic endeavor."

That would be news to Babe Ruth. Or Fernando Valenzuela. Goose Gossage. Tony Gwynn.


While you have a point with the other guys (all pitchers), Tony Gwynn noticeably deteriorated over the years as he gained weight. When he first came up, he was a legitimate threat on the basepaths, but as he got older and gained weight, his knees got worse and he couldn't do much other than hit the ball well, at which point the Padres would bring in Ricky Henderson as a pinch runner. Gwynn won four Golden Gloves early in his career, but couldn't cover as much ground later on.
posted by LionIndex at 10:48 AM on October 12, 2011


Being big != excess weight. Gaining even five or ten pounds can dramatically hurt an athlete's performance - even if it's muscle. Sabathia's never been svelte. He conditions, practices and throws like a guy with a big frame. If he'd gone from male-model to his current self during a season, that would not have been an all-star year.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:48 AM on October 12, 2011


There have been plenty of athletes who were not in top physical condition who were excellent baseball players. To blame the Red Sox' apathetic self-destruction on weight gain is an appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Yeah, frankly I feel like the concern here is about fat phobia, and is misplaced. Sure, there are good players, even great players, who are or were not lean. There are even sports in which extra weight is a prerequisite. But excess (fat) weight gained during a season can be a reasonable proxy for conditioning. I agree that anti-fat prejudice is a problem, but I don't agree that any pejorative mention of weight stems from it.

(I do think, however, that those pictures don't tell much of a story.)
posted by OmieWise at 10:52 AM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


$300 headphones and a players-only evening on the owners' yacht to improve the clubhouse vibe? Somebody's got a tin ear.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:53 AM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Citing a handful of players who did well while being overweight seems to speak more to the exceptions to the norm.

That aside, interesting comments by Nomar in the ESPN article.
posted by ambient2 at 10:58 AM on October 12, 2011


J'ACCUSE!
posted by any major dude at 11:16 AM on October 12, 2011


Ruth wasn't always of such prodigious girth. I can't find it now, but I remember seeing a picture of him in his pitching days with his shirt off and stretching his arms wide; he seemed lean and muscular to me.

And while there obviously have been major leaguers who have been overweight, including good players, great players, and even incomparably awesome players, I don't think that that fact really disproves the notion that putting on more fat might, on average, have a deleterious effect on the performance of the typical player.
posted by Flunkie at 11:27 AM on October 12, 2011


Also, this is all overthinking it. The real reason the Red Sox collapsed is because the Red Sox suck. QED.
posted by Flunkie at 11:28 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fuck the Globe and fuck the Sox brass. What a classless operation. I say this as a lifelong Sox fan.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:51 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


$300 headphones and a players-only evening on the owners' yacht to improve the clubhouse vibe? Somebody's got a tin ear.

True dat. In particular, the choice of headphones as a gift seems unintentionally symbolic. Headphones isolate people from one another and is that really the message you are trying to send to a team?

He should have given them a jigsaw puzzle made of gold and only by solving the entire thing as a unit could they have the money.

( I would be a terrible motivational leader)
posted by jeremias at 11:54 AM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, I didn't know until reading this that Francona's marriage of 30 years is in trouble, and that he's dealing with a lot of knee pain and painkillers. And didn't he have heart issues a couple of years ago? I can see him not being all there, and the players perhaps taking advantage of that. I'm surprised this wasn't addressed more.
posted by Melismata at 12:00 PM on October 12, 2011


I can see him not being all there, and the players perhaps taking advantage of that. I'm surprised this wasn't addressed more.

I think a bigger reason is that the usual team leaders - Tek and Yuke - were dealing with health issues, and couldn't step in, superstars like Ellsbury and Gonzales wouldn't, leaving Ortiz and Papelbon to try to keep things together - which is like asking Lenny and Squiggy to run the team. They're good guys, work hard and play to win, but they're not Tek and Yuke, they're not Millar and Schilling.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:25 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am so thrilled that the 3 highest payroll teams in 2011 (Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox) are all LOSERS. Go Tigers! Go Lions! And no, I am not from Michigan. I am from Massachusetts.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 12:26 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised this wasn't addressed more.

Yeah, but alternatively, they weren't issues right up until the Red Sox ownership decided he'd run his mouth too much (i.e., at all by answering questions in a contractually-obligated situation). Seriously, fuck those people.
posted by yerfatma at 12:46 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


YES! They're back! The Red Sox of yore! Where everything bad that happens is somebody else's fault, and there is a curse upon the franchise. Gather round, ye sports scriveners of The New Yorker & The Paris Review, your team of star-crossed challengers of fate is back!

Beer & Fried Chicken in the clubhouse? Psshh! The '86 Mets won the World Series doing worse. Who'd they beat? THE RED SOX. Besides, nobody in Boston bitched about Fried Chicken in the club house when Wade Boggs was doing it back in the 80's.

Smearing Francona after he left (or was asked to leave)? Klassy with a "K", Red Sox brass. And now your over-rated boy genius GM is leaving for the CUBS?! Sounds like they're justifying 5+ years of over-priced mediocrity to themselves beforehand. A rotten fish stinks from the head.

Goddamn, shit like this is why I hate the Red Sox. It's like the bizarro world version of the Yankees triumphalism. Now, if you all excuse me, I have to go write a 12,000 word screed on how Jeff Wilpon of the Mets is what happens whens the Son of Satan is dropped on its head.
posted by KingEdRa at 12:47 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Deadspin is...skeptical.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:50 PM on October 12, 2011


I am so thrilled that the 3 highest payroll teams in 2011 (Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox) are all LOSERS. Go Tigers!

It isn't as if the Tigers are at the bottom of that list; they're in the top third in baseball. And the highest payroll of the four remaining teams.
posted by inigo2 at 12:51 PM on October 12, 2011


I am so thrilled that the 3 highest payroll teams in 2011 (Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox) are all LOSERS. Go Tigers!

It isn't as if the Tigers are at the bottom of that list; they're in the top third in baseball. And the highest payroll of the four remaining teams.


Agreed. I am pretty sure that should have been "Go Cardinals!"

I know, I know - St. Louis is right below Detroit in the 2011 MLB payroll ranking. Just excited to be attending Game 3 of NLCS tonight!
posted by mysterpigg at 1:12 PM on October 12, 2011


What the sox should do during the offseason is fire the Boston Globe. Since they can't do that, the next best thing ought to be get one guy who just handles these armchair assholes and that's it. Make the globe toe the line. Any more of this kind of shit and Pedroia and Ortiz might start giving exclusives to the Herald. At least then there's an excuse when a story hits that makes everyone look bad.
posted by cotterpin at 1:20 PM on October 12, 2011


Wasn't Wade Boggs famous for eating a bucket of fried chicken before each game as part of his superstition? Weren't the Red Sox famous for sharing a glass of Jack Daniels before each game they beat the Yankees in the ALCS before they won the World Series?

"Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar told Fox Sports that the team took shots of Jack Daniel's whiskey before Game 6 of the American League Championship Series and before all four World Series games."
posted by matimer at 1:28 PM on October 12, 2011


Dang didn't see the Wade Boggs reference already... well may be two references can help the value of my 1983 Topps Wade Boggs rookie card
posted by matimer at 1:30 PM on October 12, 2011


Agreed. I am pretty sure that should have been "Go Cardinals!"

The team that spent nearly $20 Million more for 6 less wins than the Brewers?
posted by drezdn at 1:39 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


cotterpin, can you be more specific about what's wrong with the Globe sportswriters? * I've heard this from a number of people, and being a dumb girl I'm not sure what they're guilty of.

* Except for CHB, of course. Even I can tell that he's been mailing it in for 20 years.
posted by Melismata at 1:42 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Implying that this was the reason for the collapse is the height of sports talk BS. If the Red Sox had won one more game, this would never have seen the light of day.

And I say this as a fan of a division rival who is savouring every delicious morsel of schadenfreude over their implosion I can sink my teeth into.
posted by dry white toast at 1:50 PM on October 12, 2011


The Globe's constantly examining the team for any signs of trouble, magnifies those signs, weaves a story, all the while acting like they're managing the team. In a sport like baseball, where there's a lot of variance in outcomes, players go on streaks a lot, and the best teams only win 2/3 of their games, you cannot act like every loss is the sign of deep-rooted problems.

Each year the globe picks on a player who isn't having a good year and they pile on. This year it was Matsuzaka. I think 2010 it was Ortiz. Those stories weren't about how those players were having an off year or whatnot, those stories were about whether or not the player should even be on the team.

That kind of thing cannot be good for the clubhouse. This is latest gem from the Globe, they've got Pedroia quoted, while they mention a few times how other players won't talk to them. This is in a story about the lack of clubhouse coherency. This is not going to help that.

This is why the Sox need someone to manage the globe. It wouldn't take much, compared to the whole payroll I'm guessing, to have a dedicated PR person who shields the players from neverending sportswriter scrutiny.
posted by cotterpin at 2:08 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is why the Sox need someone to manage the globe.

The Sox front office manages the Globe. And quite well, judging by this piece.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:11 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, cotterpin!
posted by Melismata at 2:12 PM on October 12, 2011


This is interesting given that John W. Henry has now turned his attention to accelerating the decline of English football. Especially given that he knew nothing about the sport when he purchased Liverpool.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:41 PM on October 12, 2011


The Sox front office manages the Globe.

Don't forget there's an ugly bit of entanglement there too. Melismata, read the link MegoSteve posted to get a better idea.
posted by yerfatma at 2:49 PM on October 12, 2011


Watching the Red Sox devour themselves and get rid of one of their most successful GMs ever is absolutely delicious. Speaking as a Yankees fan, anyway. The usual slime jobs for someone leaving boston are just icing on the cake.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:45 PM on October 12, 2011


Let Theo go - he was always a smug fuck. Francona, though - TITO! - that bust me up. Go Sox! (in 2013?....maybe?)
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:35 PM on October 12, 2011


The most bizarre thing about this whole debacle is that nobody here outside of sportswriters and a few angry talk-show callers actually gave a damn about the "collapse." It was sad, but just not that big a deal (5 year grace period after championships and all that) until Henry flipped out and fired the guy who'd won the Series in 25% of his years as manager, then badmouthed the players he's going to be stuck with next year anyway.

John Henry: welcome to the Dan Snyder "I'll still root for the team but you'll never get my money again" club.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 7:40 PM on October 12, 2011


I think 2010 it was Ortiz.

I think they go after Ortiz every year, at least until he starts hitting. But in 2010 it was almost certainly Ellsbury.

It was only in the last year that I heard the nickname "Shank" for Shaughnessy, but it fits so so well.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:58 PM on October 12, 2011


If they had won, the fried chicken and video games in the clubhouse and everything else would have been evidence of how these guys were bonding and building that World Series-caliber chemistry. Nobody seemed to mind in 2004 when Kevin Millar and company were frat-housing their way to the championship. In fact, everyone in Boston loved it. That's why Johnny Damon shaving when he signed with the Yankees was like salt in the wound. Now it sounds like the Globe is teling the Sox to grow up; act professional; in other words, become the Evil Empire – New England Branch.

Can't help but wonder if the Sox won some rings and lost their mojo over this decade.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:04 PM on October 12, 2011


This apparently isn't the first time Josh Beckett's love of beer and fried foods has gotten him into trouble.
posted by reenum at 11:10 PM on October 12, 2011


David Ortiz To Yankees? Red Sox Star Discusses Free Agency, Boston Collapse.
posted by ericb at 11:32 AM on October 13, 2011


Beer and fried chicken? Amateurs! The late 90s Mets had a “porn room”.
posted by ericb at 3:08 PM on October 13, 2011


Michael Shur on this story.
posted by drezdn at 9:29 AM on October 14, 2011


drezdn: "Michael Shur on this story."
I'd like to briefly address the complete moron in the Red Sox organization who insinuated to a reporter that Terry Francona had a problem with prescription pills.

Dear Moron,

Congratulations! You have just (a) attacked the best and most popular manager your team has ever had while (b) displaying a complete lack of institutional loyalty, which (c) pretty much guarantees that no one in his right mind will want to manage your team now, and (d) turned everyone against each other causing (e) massive paranoia which will undoubtedly lead to (f) a thousand more stories about how dysfunctional your organization is, which will only intensify the ill effects of (b,c,d,e). You are the worst person in the world. Quit.

For future reference, you fucking moron, when the greatest manager in the history of your team leaves, under any circumstances, you say the following: "He did a wonderful job for us, for many years, and we wish him only the best." You do not insinuate to a reporter that he had a drug problem or that he was distracted by a failing marriage. This is true whether or not he actually did have a drug problem, by the way. It's 100 percent irrelevant. You take the high road. Do I really need to explain this to you, you fucking moron?
Amen.
posted by zarq at 9:53 AM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It wasn't just the beer & fried chicken.

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.

You can do weird stuff and get away with it as a baseball player. These people are very superstitious. If you need to have a beer or two during the game and you're paying attention to what's going on and winning, I'm guessing, nobody cares. Hell, look at Doc Hopper!

The portrait The Globe paints above is one of the pitchers' total isolation---both from their individual teammates and from the franchise as a whole. It's sickening to think that before going out there and pitching like crap, these guys were zoning out to video games, drinking beer and eating garbage. I'm not a die hard fan, but, perhaps due to my naivete that's been fostered by living near or in this city my whole life, I do feel a bit cheated.
posted by shushufindi at 10:57 AM on October 15, 2011


it seems as if the red sox pulled a netflix
posted by matimer at 7:49 PM on October 19, 2011


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