The Red Sox meltdown is now at an all-time high.
Currently sitting at 57-59 and 11 games behind the first place Yankees, the Sox and their $173.2 million payroll have been nothing but a media circus for over a year now. After scapegoating former manager and two-time World Series champion Terry Francona following last September's collapse, failing to make the post-season after losing the wild card clinching game on the final night of the season, it's been nothing but downhill ever since hiring his replacement Bobby Valentine.
Valentine is known for his strange clubhouse antics and alternative approach, but it seems as if the players have made him the newest scapegoat for their own mediocre play. The straw that broke the camel's back, from the player's point of view, came following a July 22 debacle in which they felt Valentine purposely embarrassed starter Jon Lester after leaving him in the game too long in which he gave up 11 earned runs. Yahoo Sports is reporting that a text message was then sent to ownership calling for a meeting shortly thereafter, headed by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino agreed to meet on Boston's off day in New York on July 26, but the only thing that was brought up was the heat; heat from the players.
According to Yahoo and their sources, the meeting turned ugly quickly. Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia were allegedly among the most vocal in the meeting and some players told management directly that they were no longer willing to play for Valentine.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington commented on the meeting, telling Yahoo, "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."
Although Valentine has refused to comment, Cherington has confirmed that ownership is behind their manager, "Bobby is our manager, and we're not considering anyone else. He's as committed to managing the team as he ever has been, and we're committed to him and trying to do everything we can to support him and make this work."
Henry also emailed a statement to members of the Boston media that read, "To blame Bobby Valentine for the Red Sox being .500 at this point in the season, is simply wrong."
While it's obvious there is on-going civil war within the Red Sox clubhouse, it should be noted that ownership may have to take the appropriate steps to resolve the situation if a majority of the players simply lack respect for their manager. According to one Yahoo source, a text message picture was circulating the clubhouse that featured a facetious and giddy Pedroia with his tongue hanging out and two thumbs up next to Valentine, who is face down on a table apparently asleep. The caption with the picture read, "Our manager contemplating his lineup at 3:30 p.m."
On the other hand, no matter how non-adroit Valentine has been with his players and management, at some point the players need to focus more on their play and less on scapegoating.
Legendary pitching coach Leo Mazzone told ESPN's 'Mike And Mike' that it all starts from the top, regardless of how it may look to us outsiders. ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk also put in some quality commentary when he said that the last thing an owner wants to do is be told how to run their team and that a new manager — at least one worth hiring — isn't going to go anywhere near Boston if they know the players can get him fired.
The Red Sox may have one of the best baseball traditions, if not one of the best cultures in all of sports, but considering their apocalyptic attitude right now, they're looking very much like '2012.'
Josh Helmuth is the editor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
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