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The plot thickens

By now, I’m sure you’ve read the Boston Globe piece detailing the seemingly endless list of faults and foibles that poisoned the Red Sox’ clubhouse and caused them to blow their massive Wild Card lead. If you haven’t, Rob Neyer has a very good summary of it here; I won’t link to the Globe page itself, because frankly it doesn’t deserve the pageviews.

The point the article makes is clear: The Red Sox’ clubhouse was filled with lazy, selfish players, and it is the fault of those players that the team lost its division and Wild Card leads and fell one game short of making the playoffs. If I could, I’d like to ask some questions for those who truly believe that it was the poisonous clubhouse atmosphere that caused the September collapse:

How did John Lackey drinking beer lead to Andrew Miller making two starts in September, not to mention the ten more he made before then? Would Miller have done better than his combined line of 6.1 IP, 11 ER, 7 BB, 3 HR and 4 K if Lackey had been sitting on the bench, cheering him on? How much better?

How did Josh Beckett eating chicken cause Kyle Weiland to make three September starts? How many of the 13 runs Weiland allowed in those starts, where he pitched a combined total of 11.2 innings, can we blame on Beckett’s weight gain?

Did Adrian Gonzalez answering a question about the schedule make Kevin Youkilis injury-prone? Is it possible that Youk would have played in 140 games for the first time since 2008, but that possibility was dashed because Adrian said that he didn’t like getting into a hotel at four in the morning?

If Jason Varitek had yelled at people more often, would he have become a better hitter? If he got in people’s faces and told them how to behave, would his .071 BABIP in September have gone up, making his .077/.200/.192 batting line better?

If Terry Francona wasn’t popping pills and hiding from his wife, would Tim Wakefield’s knuckleballs have danced a little more? Would Jarrod Saltalamacchia have been able to catch them if Tito didn’t worry about his sons in the military?

If John Henry wasn’t so focused on promoting his new soccer team or touting Roush-Fenway Racing, would Erik Bedard have gotten a more generous strikezone?

If Jon Lester didn’t play so many damn video games, would any of the bloop hits that Daniel Bard gave up have been caught?

If Jacoby Ellsbury was a little more sociable, would the Yankees have held onto their 7-0 lead in Game 162?

One last set of questions, although I could probably go on all day: If any of the random fluke things that happened to the Red Sox in September and actually cost them games hadn’t happened, and the Sox either held off a Rays charge or just coasted into the playoffs, would any of this be news? Would we be hearing about Lackey’s drinking or Beckett’s eating or Lester’s gaming or Tito’s marriage or Ellsbury’s introversion or Gonzalez’ schedule complaints or Varitek’s leadership?

I don’t think so.

The Red Sox lost because they got horrendous starting pitching (from, for the most part, horrendous starting pitchers) for a month, the usually sound bullpen hit a poorly timed rough patch, and a million stupid little things went wrong. To suggest that this was the fault of a few guys drinking beer, or a manager dealing with personal troubles, or a player making a point about the schedule, is ridiculous.

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  1. October 14, 2011 at 1:11 PM

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