From our season preview of the Boston Red Sox earlier today...
Can the Red Sox avoid making headlines for all of the wrong reasons?
In the last two years, the Red Sox have been front page news for all of the following:
-An epic September collapse
-Players drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games
-A manager once thought to be untouchable, Terry Francona, getting fired
-The same manager being accused of abusing prescription drugs
-In-fighting amongst ownership
-Theo Epstein being given the boot
-New GM Ben Cherington being forced to hire Bobby Valentine
-Bobby Valentine throwing veterans under the bus via the media
-Players launching a mutiny against Bobby V
-The Red Sox blowing up their roster via a massive salary dump trade with the Dodgers
-Bobby Valentine finally getting fired
Did I miss anything? I probably did. But I know one thing I didn't miss as a headline that Boston made in the last two seasons "Boston wins."
For the last decade, the one and only goal in Boston has been winning a World Series. But that changed for the Sox this year. As their roster and clubhouse overhaul shows, the goal has changed this year.
Oh, sure, a World Series would be nice, but it would be seen as the gravy on top. The real meal is getting this organization back on track, ending what has become one of the biggest ongoing soap operas in the sport. That's why Josh Beckett is gone and functionally replaced by Ryan Dempster, a guy so loyal he was reluctant to waive his no-trade clause to leave the lowly Cubs. That's why they signed noted "chemistry guy" Jonny Gomes and promised him a full-time gig even though he really should be a platoon player. That's why they added Stephen Drew who is known for his great attit- um, err, never mind. I guess they can't all be chemistry signings, right?
Most importantly, that is why they got on the phone with division rival Toronto to try and pry loose manager John Farrell for the second off-season in a row. Finally successful, Boston got the guy they wanted all along before all of this Bobby V. misery. They got the guy who could harken back to the glory of the Francona days without actually bringing back Francona and all the baggage between him and the ownership.
The best thing Boston might have going for them though might be how brutally difficult the AL East figures to be this season. With the Yankees still the Yankees, the Jays all loaded up, the Orioles coming off their magical season and the Rays refusal to ever go away, Boston's expectations entering the season are as low as they have been in quite some time. Say what you want about the players involved in all the chaos the last two years, one has to think that the clubhouse chemistry wouldn't have disintegrated on such a grand scale had their not been so much pressure on the team to bring home a title. This year though, that pressure is almost totally non-existent and that can only be a good thing.
Red Sox on TOC
End of Season Postmortem
Hope for the Hopeless
2013 Season Preview
You May Say I’m a Dreamer
2013 Burning Question
This Is My Nightmare (2:00 PM)
X-Factor (3:15 PM)
Top Ten Prospects (4:30 PM)