Although their play on the field has been erratic all season, the Boston Red Sox remain predictable off it.
Responding to Jeff Passan’s much-discussed Yahoo! Sports report yesterday, Sox principal owner John Henry unleashed a furious response, lambasting the reporters, team and staff that have allowed this season to spiral out of control.
Oh wait, no he didn’t.
Instead, Henry issued a typically bland, “nothing to see here” statement to Boston.com, chastising nobody in particular and making no guarantees about the sweeping changes that obviously need to be made.
The team is rapidly descending into the basement of the American League, fan interest has never been lower, and this is what the Red Sox give them? Obvious statements like “the team isn’t playing up to our standards,” and that everyone is “determined to turn [the season] around”?
These hollow clichés represent exactly what has plagued this team the last several years: a complete absence of accountability.
The Red Sox organization is sick, and it starts from the top. Not once has the ownership apologized for the way the end of last season was handled, including the needless leaking of information about former manager Terry Francona’s personal life.
Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino seem to believe that Sox fans will put up with just about anything; that can be the only reason they continue to force-feed the fans bricks, sellout streaks and promises that their sub-.500 team “will not waver” in their effort to improve.
Every word of Henry’s statement is a direct affront to the fans’ intelligence.
Are they supposed to believe that Josh “I’ve got to pitch better” Beckett cares about the rest of the season? Or that the owners have “addressed” all the things needed for the team to improve?
It is preposterous to think that anything has changed with this team. Can anyone name one major change this team has made since these meetings took place on July 26?
This ownership group is all talk. Everyone knows it. They continuously try to play the PR game while simultaneously destroying the foundation that allowed the team to win two World Series in four years.
Players who brought positivity and hard work to the clubhouse, such as Pedro Martinez, Johnny Damon and Derek Lowe, were sent out of town and allowed to enjoy several more productive years playing for other teams.
The owners replaced these core players with guys like Beckett, J.D. Drew and John Lackey—low- (or no-) character guys who completely shifted the general mood of the clubhouse. While the carefree “Idiots” concept may not have worked every year (the 2007 World Series team was more business-like and even included Drew and Beckett), the majority of the players brought in struck a fine balance between hard work, team spirit and simply having fun.
Somewhere along the line, though, the balance shifted. Enough of those high-caliber players were shuttled out that the Becketts and Lackeys were allowed to seize control of the clubhouse and completely alter the culture.
While some of this change is natural, ownership expedited a significant amount of it with their concerns for appearance over substance. Somewhere between Daisuke Matsuzaka and Carl Crawford, they ceased building a real team and instead became interested only in building a marketing director’s fantasy.
If the Sox organization is truly committed to returning to the top, they need to replace their phony statements with action. It’s time for them to affect some of the change they claim they want.