July 26 was a big day for Adrian Gonzalez in New York:
"Fan Cave" played the guitar:
He did some planking:
He hit some Wiffle Balls:
Then he joined 16 teammates and threw Bobby Valentine off the George Washington Bridge.
Et tu, Dustin.
Shameless. Heartless. Gutless.
As Red Sox Nation mourns the passing of Johnny Pesky, there's a part of us that longs for the era during which Pesky played. When players had a gripe with their manager - it was usually dealt with man-to-man - perhaps even settled with fists. Now, pampered overpaid and apathetic under-performers like Gonzalez, scrappy back-stabbers like Dustin Pedroia and their co-horts do it the manly way - via text message.
Bruce Springsteen played Fenway Park Tuesday. Tickets are still available for tonight's show. But the "Glory Days" of the Red Sox are long gone.
Maybe it was easier to root for the Red Sox when they were 12.5 games out of first place "back in the day" because there was a perception that - if nothing else - the players actually cared. The pain of being a Red Sox fan came from excruciating losses, historic choke jobs and out-of-nowhere home runs by Bucky F. Dent. It was always a lack of talent, not a lack of effort. The Red Sox may have had "25 players and 25 cabs," but Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens still cried after losing the 1986 World Series. The 21st century Red Sox cry when they have to play double-headers on getaway days, can't use the DH on the road in interleague games or don't get congratulated for giving up 11 runs against the Blue Jays.
The throw-down between players and ownership over Bobby Valentine on that infamous July off-day so brilliantly reported and chronicled by Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan was just the latest episode in a tailspin unparalleled in recent Red Sox memory and marked with a dysfunction last seen in these parts during the days of Patriots owner Victor Kiam, Celtics coach/president Rick Pitino and the first 30 years of the Jacobs regime.
It's been almost a calendar year since "Fan Cave" marked the beginning of the "Great Fall of Fenway" with his taken-third strike against Mariano Rivera last Sept. 1. His text message sent to management triggered the meeting at New York's Palace Hotel just a couple of hours after Gonzalez got done taking his mighty Wiffle Ball cuts. No wonder Gonzalez was in such a good mood at the Fan Cave that day. He no doubt thought ownership would cave into his demands - and those of Pedroia - at his afternoon meeting and get rid of Valentine.
There's been plenty of finger-pointing for the pathetic, nauseating, disgusting, insulting, kick-in-the-collective-nuts, spiteful, steal-your-lunch-money, aggravating, laughable, pathetic, embarrassing, grease-smeared, overpriced performance of this baseball team in the final month of last season and the first five months of this season.
You know, it was the hangover from last season. You know, it was the old manager. You know, it was the old GM. You know, it was Jonathan Papelbon wanting too much money, You know, it was the departure of Heidi Watney. You know, it was all those injuries. You know, it was all those idiots on talk radio. You know, it was the cold weather in April. You know, it was Valentine not knowing how things were supposed to be done here. You know, it was Kevin Youkilis. You know, it was the umpires. You know, it was the fans for booing Back Fat. You know, it was Joe "Double-Fisted" Haggerty for having the nerve to report that - indeed - there was still beer in the clubhouse. You know, it's that guy from Yahoo writing about some stupid meeting three weeks ago.
Breaking actual news about Red Sox? Say it ain't so, Jeff and Joe.
Tuesday, Gonzalez said of Passan, "I've never seen that guy in our clubhouse before ... he doesn't know what's going on with us." Translation: "That means he knows exactly what's going on." Seriously, was "Fan Cave" trying to say the meeting, confirmed by the general manager, never took place? It's the guys in the clubhouse who don't know what's going on. The treatment of Haggerty by the State Run Media apologists during the past week has been despicable. Instead of ripping him for not noting that the no-beer rule (apparently) only applied to home games, they should apologizing to their bosses and readers for missing story, after story, after story. The issue is the beer, not the rules.
We've seen time and time again that the most of the "superstars" on this team have zero respect for Valentine and will do whatever they want whenever they well please. But it's reassuring that Good-Time Lackey is still with the team. And Pedroia's photo mocking a napping Valentine? Plenty of chuckles all the way around. But the laughs are anyone who actually gives a damn about what happens to the Red Sox. It's obvious at least 17 of the players don't.
When an attempted coup fails, the plotters are usually executed. Their families and fortunes are spared, as Frank Pentangeli told Tom Hagen, if they commit suicide. In the case of the Red Sox, the failed plotters are cleaned, burped and tucked into bed. The best punishment for this team would be to keep Valentine around just for the aggravation factor.
Sadly, Pedroia has been exposed in all this mess as a colossal fake. Dusty Two Sacks meet Dusty Two-Face. While Pedey is constantly dirty on the field (his hard-nosed play has been lauded in this space time and time again), he's been playing even more dirty off it. Pedroia had the chance to emerge a true leader in this mess, by pushing his teammates to perform better on the field, act with professionalism and maybe even workout on their off days. Or even working with the manager and team ownership to find solutions to the problems that plagued the clubhouse. Instead, he piled on. Speaking of "Godfather" analogies, nice move by Bobby V last night with his "Corleone" kiss (as Gary Tanguay noted).
"Sorry Dustin, Rocco will have to take you fishing. Michael and Anthony have to go to Reno."
Valentine's crime that triggered that text message from the players - lead by Gonzalez and Pedroia - and ultimately this failed "coup d'état" was leaving in Jon "Meatball" Lester to give up 11 runs and four homers against the Blue Jays on Sunday, July 22. Suck it up, fellas. The team had used six pitchers the night before. Remember what Tim Wakefield did in Game 3 against the Yankees in 2004? That seems like eight light years ago.
This just in - Mark Reynolds hit the first pitch off Mark Melancon for a three-run homer - it's 7-1 Orioles. 5.1 innings, 6 hits and 6 runs for Josh Beckett (now 5-10) on this August evening. Thinking whatever Bud Lights still stood in that clubhouse Tuesday night didn't have a chance after his exit. 14-14? That's not the Patriots score after the first quarter of their opener. It's the number of hits and runs Beckett has given up in last two starts. How dare we boo him.
Team ownership created the foundation for this catastrophe. Nothing is demanded from the men in uniform. Beckett, Lackey, Carl Crawford, Dice-K, Gonzalez. Never has so much been spent on so many to achieve so little in the last five years. The focus is on bricks. Wally, soccer, the sellout streak, "Sweet Caroline." You know the routine. The manager who actually liked the players was metaphorically assassinated after last season. The GM is a real-life Sox Puppet.
Here's Ben Cherington's entire reign with the Red Sox in one paragraph from Passan's story. "The intent of the meeting was to provide a forum for people to express whatever frustration needed to be expressed at a time during the season when things were not going exactly the way we wanted to on the field in hopes that we could put whatever issues were there aside and focus on playing games the rest of the season. That was the intent of the meeting. That was the focus of ownership. It was a productive meeting. Since then, we have not gone on the run we were supposed to." Did he honestly expect these spolied childish players/children to change after allowing them to throw their group temper tantrum? They must not teach "Common Sense 101" at Amherst.
But in the end, let's not blame the victim. This mess is on the players. No one forced them to call this meeting. They have failed. They are not trying. They do not care. Just think about it. On an off day in New York. On a day when the Red Sox had just come off another Beckett loss (this one 5-3 to the Rangers) and had fallen below .500 entering a last-stand series against the Yankees, what did the players do? Was there extra BP? A team film session on the Yankees pitching staff? A few more hours of conditioning? Nope. A-Gonz hit the "Fan Cave. " And 17 players saw fit to meet with their bosses to bitch and moan about their supervisor. Then they went out and lost to the A.L. East leaders 10-3.
Have the Red Sox bottomed out? Doubt it. We haven't had any arrests, yet.
After Tuesday's loss to Dan Duquette's rejuvenated Orioles, Pedroia had the nerve to say this, according to Comcast Sports, "I don't think Bobby Valentine should be fired...I'm not going to place any blame on Bobby. It's all on the players."
Screw this bunch.
"Good job. Good effort."
We should be so lucky.
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