Jon Lester had heard and read enough. In his estimation, it was time for a more proactive approach.
Asked in a phone interview if his team was being portrayed fairly since the stunning end of the 2011 season, Lester's response was immediate and direct.
"No," he said. "Not at all."
Thanks to a few phone calls from his Georgia home -- including one early Monday evening to WEEI.com -- the Red Sox pitcher did his best to address the issues that have surfaced since the Red Sox' historic September collapse was completed.
"The message I'm trying to get across today is our clubhouse, even this year, every year I've been in Boston, has cared, guys have wanted to win and guys busted their azz every day. That's what people need to understand," he said. "Regardless of the other rumors or nonsense. I feel like we're back in high school. So-and-so this or that about you. When it's all said and done we're going to go out there in 2012, we're going to bust our azzes, we're going to grind it out and we're going to play good baseball."
But while the day began with Lester defending himself and his teammates against assertions ranging from drinking beer, eating fried chicken and playing video games during games to a clubhouse that had become more dysfunctional than ever, it ended with the lefty also having to address the fallout from his first wave of comments, made earlier in the day.
One of the issues touched on by Lester that had gained a significant amount of steam as the day progressed was his statement regarding former Sox manager Terry Francona, and how players might have responded to his approach throughout what turned into a 7-20 September.
"That's another thing I'm getting crushed for," Lester said. "Apparently I buried Tito and didn't know it. Tito, for me was a great manager. He's a great person. I thanked him I don't know how many times for what he has done for me, not only as a baseball player, but as a fan. My family would call and say the same thing. With Tito all I said is he's not the type of manager who manages with an iron-fist, so when things happen he takes responsibility to handle it himself. He calls you in the office, he handles it, bam, it's over with.
"I said that in our clubhouse we were not held accountable for ourselves. Our teammates were not holding us accountable. When I say that I'm not saying about the beer-drinking because you can ask any person in baseball and they'll tell you it's going on. It happens. There are people who drink while they're playing. There are people who are drinking while they're pitching. That was not the case for us. We did it occasionally and it was not what these people say it was. As far as the accountability, I'm talking about the day-to-day activities with baseball activities. That's not Tito's job.
"Tito's job is to run the ship, make sure we're playing good baseball and keep us going. I think [the thing that] people are questioning is that I said he didn't manage with an iron-fist and we took advantage of those rules, and not having rules. That's not the case. I think we took advantage of each other and what we could get away with as far as not being accountable for our actions on the baseball field. Not the beer-drinking. Not that stuff. I'm talking about baseball activities."
Then there was a report citing two anonymous sources that Lester was understating the prevalence of the beer-drinking, fried-chicken-eating and video-game-playing in the clubhouse during games.
"Who did it come from? An anonymous source? Exactly," he said. "I hate anonymous sources because if you can't call me or come to me face-to-face as a man and tell me I'm doing something wrong, you mean nothing to me. I don't have time for that. I don't know where these people are coming from. I don't know what their problem is with is. But that's not the case."
In his conversation with WEEI.com, Lester answered all the questions posed regarding the accusations thrown the way of both his team and his rotation-mates. Many of the answers were similar to the messages relayed throughout Monday, while others (such as his take on the importance of John Farrell's approach) offered new insight.
At the end of the day, however, the All-Star starter's intent, from first word to last, wasn't hard to distinguish.
"Everything is embellished. Everything is added. Everything is made out to look bad," Lester said. "I know people are looking for reasons why we lost. Like I said a hundred times, baseball is one of those funny sports where you can't point to one thing. As a collective unit, we stunk. I'll be the first to tell you as a starting pitcher I stunk in September. I was not good. And it had nothing to do with having the occasional beer. That has nothing to do with it.
"If I was a fan I would want answers too. But that's not the answer."
Regarding the Boston Globe story investigating the Red Sox' collapse:
"It would be different if the story that came out originally about us actually told the truth. I don't think this would be an issue. They have to embellish a lot and basically make us to look like we're the devils, the people that ruined the team. I think that's unfair. It's one of the reasons why I needed to call today. I need people to understand that we're not drinking 12-packs every game. We're not sitting up there getting hammered. It's the occasional ninth-inning rally beer. It's the occasional situation where we're sitting up there, watching the game, having a beer. That's it.
"There's no video games. The fried chicken thing, like I've told everybody else, there was three times this year out of six months we had fried chicken. It's not like we're ordering a bucket of fried chicken and eating it ourselves. We're having a piece."
Regarding the degree of accuracy in the report's depiction of video game-playing during games:
"None. When this thing first came out, my wife was reading it and she starts laughing. I said, 'What's so funny?' She said, 'You don't even play video games.' I don't think I've played a video game since I was 12. I don't play video games and I don't like video games. Josh [Beckett] and [John Lackey], they're not the video game type either. I've never seen video games played during the game, ever. Now, there are video games being played during batting practice, but not during games."
If the presence of former pitching coach John Farrell would have altered the outcome:
"No. I think as far as the pitching staff, we were more structured under John Farrell and that's because that's John's personality. He was a field coordinator in Cleveland, he was a front office guy, he was the whole deal, so he had to have structure. We always had a plan of what our day was going to be. [Current pitching coach] Curt [Young] was a little more relaxed. He was like Tito. On Sunday day games, we would have our own stretch. It's good and bad, on both ends."
On the attention given to the pitchers' clubhouse practices:
"It all comes back to eating fried chicken and drinking beer. It hasn't happened just this year. And it doesn't happen in just our clubhouse. It's just so happens we're in a media market where people like to be anonymous sources, get a hold of this stuff and run with it and now we're being blamed for losing in September."
Regarding the notion that other teams' drinking practices are worse than the Red Sox:
"Absolutely. I'm sure there's worse and I'm sure there's better. I'm sure there are teams with managers who don't allow them to go up to the clubhouse. Like I read an article the other day with Jack McKeon where they -- not Jack -- tried to bury Josh in that whole deal, where he had to lock the clubhouse. Well, you have to look at the dynamic at that team. The dynamic of that team is a bunch of young guys. They didn't police themselves. They didn't know any better. I understand that. But for us you don't need to do that. And there's probably other teams that take advantage of it even more than we did. If this happened in a Minnesota it doesn't make ESPN. David it said the other day, in '04 they took shots before Game 7 of the ALCS. If they lose that game they're all 'Idiots' in a bad way, if they win the game they're 'Idiots' in a good way."
On the criticism of Josh Beckett:
"I think he was the same guy for all six months. What people don't understand is Josh is getting crushed for reasons I'm still trying to figure out. Where people are getting this information, saying he's a problem in our clubhouse, I don't know where they're getting this information. Josh says what's on his mind when he wants to say and how he wants to say it. If you don't completely know him and understand him, you could take that the wrong way if you overhear it. So I could see where whomever is ratting on him as an anonymous source could say that. But he says something to me or Lack and we'll just say, 'Shut up, Josh, get over it.' Or, 'Move on, dude.' You call his bluff and you move on and it's no big deal. That was the case. Everybody, it doesn't matter who you are, goes through September blues. August was a tough month on us. We played 15 out of 17 on the road and it was tough. We get to September, we have a nine-game lead and we're just like, 'Just get us to the playoffs,' and the [expletive] started hitting the fan. We [expletive] ourselves and we didn't play good baseball."
Regarding whether or not there was enough clubhouse leadership:
"We had team meetings. We had closed-door team meetings where it was just the team. We had the whole deal. We had individuals talking to individuals. When it came down to it. That stuff doesn't matter unless you perform. You have a team meeting and you win 10 in a row and you go out and win the World Series, you say you should do that every year. But if you have a team meeting and you go 7-20, you wonder what was said in the team meeting. Did somebody pizz somebody off and did they shut down? Now those questions come into play. It doesn't matter. The team meetings work sometimes and there are some teams that respond to that, there are other teams that don't. That's the way it goes. I remember in '07 we didn't have a team meeting that year until we were in Cleveland down 3-1 [in the ALCS]. And it worked. We had plenty of them this year and it didn't work. It all comes down to performing on the field. It depends on the team, it depends on the players and it depends on the personalities. For us, it didn't work."
On his perspective heading into the 2012 season:
"I'm looking forward to playing baseball. I'm not looking forward to coming back and having to deal with all of this. Little things here get blown out of proportion that shouldn't be an issue. I'm looking forward to baseball because I think next year is going to be a good year for a lot of reasons. I think you're going to see a lot of people step up and do the right thing."