In a story that might be more suitable for the Milwaukee Brewers, members of the Boston Red Sox have admitted to drinking in the clubhouse during games they weren’t playing in. Jon Lester came out publicly and said he and fellow starting pitchers John Lackey and Josh Beckett sometimes spent time in the clubhouse having a beer while ordering fried chicken.
He admitted it was wrong as they should have been supporting their teammates, but was adamant it took place only on days they weren’t pitching. He also shot down rumors that Red Sox players were actually drinking in the dugout as well.
Lester said it was a bit of a bad habit, but doesn’t believe it had anything to do with the season-ending collapse of the team. The Red Sox somehow managed to blow a nine-game lead in September and missed the playoffs by going 7-20, becoming the first team in MLB history to let such a lead slide. According to Lester, the Sox blew their lead because they simply played brutal baseball in September.
He took exception to reports that the players were drinking heavily and said nobody was getting drunk. In fact, he said the majority of times it was just one beer when the players ordered takeout chicken from the local Popeyes. He said he realizes it looks bad, but having a beer with chicken basically amounts to having the same affect as consuming a soft drink. In addition, he added that the players watched the games and weren’t playing video games as some newspapers reported.
Former Boston manager Terry Francona said after the season that he didn’t think s his players were a real “team” this year. He felt they didn’t support each other as much as they did in the past. He also admitted he had a hard time reaching and communicating with some players. Lester agreed with Francona and said the time was right for him to leave after the season because he was losing his authority.
He didn’t blame Francona for letting things get out of hand, but felt it’s just natural that things get magnified when teams lose. Another issue that was brought up was the weight gains by some players during the season. Lester said players weren’t really overweight, but probably did gain some weight because of the odd hours they keep and the times of day and night they eat.
Lester, a 15-game winner this season, feels he let the team down with his pitching in September. He had an ERA of 5.40 in that month and was 1-3. Between Sept. 11 and 24 his ERA was 10.54 and he went 0-3 in three starts. He understands that fans and others are looking for somebody to blame for the team’s collapse and accepts his part in their downfall.
Beckett also said he made his share of mistakes throughout the season, but was also adamant there was no drinking going on in the Red Sox dugout during games. Lackey chimed in as well and said there were a few things that shouldn’t have happened this season, but drinking in the dugout wasn’t one of them and he’d like to put an end to the rumors once and for all.
While Francona wanted to see the players supporting each other from the bench instead of the clubhouse, he agreed he never saw anybody drink beer in the dugout. Red Sox ownership seems to be satisfied with the statements made by Francona and the three pitchers, but is still trying to understand what went wrong at the end of the season.
They also said it’s time to move on and look forward when it comes to anonymous accusations.