Cole's first trip to Fenway proved to be a success, partially. The Sox got the win, albeit rain shortened, and thanks to the rain Cole saw the whole thing. He was a real trooper staying up way past his bedtime, finally calling it a day at 11:30. As far as the game goes the Sox got to Verlander early via running up his pitch count and late via a 4 run 4th, thanks to some control issues and some luck on Carl Crawford's grounder through Omar Infante's wickets. Josh Beckett looked outstanding until Infante's infield single seemed to rattle him. Infante's hit could solely be attributed to the wet infield grass. Beckett would later leave with back spasms, and to boo's from the Fenway crowd. Which seemed laughable to me since at first pitch it appeared that Fenway was only 2/3's full. Also from the chatter around me, many pink hats in the house. Special shout out to the 2 ladies sitting in front of me that kept standing up blocking my view of the plate to wave to apparently people below us to the right. The highlights of the night for me were mostly off the field related, I loved the Narragansett in the can, that the Sox opened the rain delay by playing "Umbrella" by Rhianna, and the showing of the Olympics on the Jumbotron to chants of "USA, USA, USA!" All in all a good trip to Fenway, until we meet again in September you old ballpark!
The Sox Clubhouse
On the trek to and from Boston, I was able to catch Mut and Merloni on WEEI. Mut was very high on the Sox trading for Justin Masterson while Lou mentioned that he would be surprised to see Beckett make it through the rest of the season without going on the DL. Nice foreshadowing by Sweet Lou, although he predicted a shoulder issue rather than the back, based solely on Beckett's lack of velocity this season.
However, the topic I really want to discuss was brought up on the drive home. That issue is the Red Sox clubhouse and chemistry. Joel Sherman of the NY Post wrote an article on July 31st about the players pleading for Bobby Valentine to be fired. This came 2 months after M&M guest Buster Olney wrote about the same issues. This was discussed at length by Mut, Lou, and Buster. Olney stated that it is not hard to see or hear about the issues, claiming that they are "being shouted from mountaintops." He also mentioned that come the Sox falling out of contention or the off season these issues will be dealt with one way or the other. We also have the managers returning salvo from his weekly appearance on "The Big Show":
What are your thoughts on Buster Olney's comment to WEEI saying that there is a lot of discontent in the Boston Red Sox locker room towards the manager?
"He's also discontent that I wouldn't go on the show with him when he does Sunday Night Baseball and he's crying a little here because I wouldn't let him interview me in the fourth inning. So, we have to understand the source here. I understand Buster. He's really a hard-working guy. He's so hard-working he's always on these talk shows that he has to make sure he's gathering information for you guys. Who gives a darn what he says about that situation? Why don't we hear about Kirk Gibson and how many of the players don't like him or about Jim Leyland and who's upset with Jim Leyland's pitching moves? This is absolutely ridiculous, but I think it's good drama so let's keep the ball rolling and maybe it will get Buster more air time. That gets him more tweets and that's how he gets paid" (deadspin.com).
So will all of this rumbling, here is my take on this. Could it possibly be that the issues in the clubhouse are not any greater than those of any other MLB clubhouse, but rather are magnified because of the seemingly thousand reporters that cover the Sox on a day to day basis? Probably not, but what if the Boston media and fans are this teams own worst enemies? How many articles have been written about off the field items about this team since this past offseason? We have the Globe exposé of the chicken, beer, and video games shenanigans, the Globe article slandering Tito Francona as a pill popper, the whole managerial experience from last fall and winter, Josh Beckett's golf outing, Bobby V's comments and continuing feud with Kevin Youkilis, the aforementioned articles on chemistry by Olney and Sherman, Clay Buchholz charity excursion to the casino with esophagitis, Tito's clubhouse visit in New York, even Orel Hershiser's decision to go after the Sox dugout for having some laughs on Sunday night. No wonder this team looks like they are not having as much fun as the idiots of 2004. How would you carry yourself if every move you made was being scrutinized by a hoard of reporters who stumble over each other to get the scoop out first, just follow them on Twitter some game night it is ridiculous the number of redundant tweets.
I also have heard it is a matter of trust, that the Sox lost they're fans trust because of all of these issues. Are these the same fans whom have turned into the LA Dodgers fans, arriving late and leaving early? Seriously look at how many empty seats there are in Fenway at first pitch, even the first pitch of the 2nd inning. I'm calling bullshit on all of it. We love(d) these guys because they were like us, right down to eating chicken, drinking beer and playing video games.
Do I believe that the Sox have issues within the clubhouse? Certainly, communication being a big one, between the front office and coaches, coaches amongst themselves, coaches and players. But what team doesn't have issues? Do I believe that these same issues would be as big a deal if this were the Seattle Mariners? Well no, but also the Mariners suck! Do I believe that is team has as healthy a chemistry as say 2003, 2004, or 2007? No but those teams were once in a lifetime groups that we just happened to get in a 5 year span. Do I believe that the Sox media and fans hurt the Sox chemistry? Not necessarily but what if we show some love, worry only about the on the field stuff, and start throwing around Manny hugs for the next 2 months? This team has the talent needed to win, but it's got to damn near impossible to go out and play a game when every minor issue is going to be front page news the next day and possibly for the next 11 months. Let's let it go Red Sox Nation and become the Royal Rooters once again.