Since the MLB regular season ended on September 18th with the Boston Red Sox missing the playoffs and completing the largest September collapse in baseball history, things have not been pretty in Boston.
Following those moves and the team's collapse, the Boston Globe has released a report detailing a number of indiscretions and possible causes for the team's epic failure. Here is a quick look at some of the main points from the article but the entire story is worth a read.
Some pointed to the fact that Francona was having problems with his marriage as a distraction to him and the team after he spent all of last season living in a hotel following a separation from his wife of nearly 30 years. Francona, however, denied any such thing.
“It makes me angry that people say these things because I’ve busted my [butt] to be the best manager I can be,’’ Francona said. “I wasn’t terribly successful this year, but I worked harder and spent more time at the ballpark this year than I ever did.’’
More so than the issues with his family though, reports have swirled that Francona's use of painkillers affected his managing ability. After undergoing a number of knee surgeries as a player, Francona again had surgery last October and used painkillers throughout the 2011 season to help deal with the pain.
One of Francona's children also questioned a pill bottle they found in his hotel room, but Francona and team doctor's stressed that he did not have a drug abuse problem.
“I went and saw the proper people and it was not an issue,’’ Francona said. “It never became an issue, and anybody who knew what was going on knows that.’’
While most starting pitchers can be found in the dugout between starts, cheering their team on, for Red Sox starters Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz they were often instead found hanging out in the clubhouse.
The pitchers would drink beer and eat fried chicken while playing video games on the clubhouse big screen TV. Taking it one step further, they also slacked on their workout regime and it showed towards the season's end.
Beckett, Lester and Lackey combined to go 2-7 with a 6.45 ERA over their final 15 starts of the season.
That group was not the only pitchers at fault, as 44-year-old Tim Wakefield seemed to put his quest for 200 career wins above everything else.
After finally reaching that mark after a terrible September, Wakefield announced that the team should bring him back next season so he can make a run at the Red Sox career wins mark as he needs seven more wins to pass Roger Clemens and Cy Young.
“I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record,’’ Wakefield said as it was clear he was far more concerned with personal accolades than with what was good for the team.
In the end, the team can point fingers to whomever they like; the Red Sox simply did not get it done.
Several players admitted that the drinking in the clubhouse has gone on since 2004, and made a good point in saying that no one seemed to care about that sort of thing when the team was winning.
Perhaps the single biggest reason for the collapse was an overall lack of leadership, not only from Francona but from the veteran players as well as the team of highly paid stars simply didn't gel.
The Red Sox have some work to do this offseason, and drastic change could be coming to Boston as they look to bounce back from such an epic collapse.