“State Of The Sox” is a weekly Friday piece detailing where the Red Sox currently stand in Major League Baseball and whether or not they can be successful going forward. We apologize if, at times, it comes across as a bit harsh.
The most consistent thing about the 2012 Red Sox has been their inconsistency. There hasn’t been much you could bank on this season, but you could always seek refuge in the knowledge that no matter what was happening – on or off the field – it would never remain the same. Continuity has been thrown out the door, and in its place is just unfiltered chaos. The Red Sox season is what the Joker wanted Gotham to turn in to. There’s no plan, only a bunch of people running around like chickens with their heads cut off, pointing fingers at one another through the media.
Every time something good happens, providing just a hint of hope, it’s brushed aside faster than it happened in the first place. Take the Cody Ross walk-off home run that beat the White Sox about two weeks ago. It looked like it could be a turning point, a jumpstart towards some consistent baseball.
But that would go against everything the Red Sox of today stand for. You know what they did after the hit that was supposed to springboard them back to relevancy?
They lost six of their next seven games.
The Cody Ross game was four games into Carl Crawford’s return from the disabled list. Two games later, he was given a scheduled day off. He then played the next four before being benched again in what was the most important game of the season – against CC Sabathia and the Yankees, in Yankee Stadium with the team’s season quickly slipping away.
Doesn’t seem like a real good time to bench your star leftfielder, does it? Well Bobby Valentine had an explanation, saying that Crawford was on a four-day plan. He was supposed to play four days in a row, then get a day off in order to give his soon-to-be surgically repaired elbow some chance to rest.
Looking past the fact that a “four-day plan” makes no sense for a guy who needs surgery anyway, there was the small problem that Crawford played the first six games consecutively when he came off the disabled list. Bobby V explained that away, saying that he had gone against management and committed a manager “no-no” by not benching Crawford after the four games initially.
Okay, so we’ll move past that. Never in a million years should anyone take anything Bobby V says at face value, but let’s pretend that we did. The Sox have Crawford on a four-day plan, Bobby overrode what management wanted him to do early in Crawford’s return and Bobby’s not going to do it again. Every fifth day, Crawford is going to sit.
Nope. Ben Cherington came out a few days later and said there was no plan for Crawford to sit every fifth day, and that the team was simply hoping to squeeze in a few off-days for Crawford when they saw fit. But no, there was no plan for him to rest every time he played four games in a row.
And that’s clearly true, since Crawford has now played six consecutive games since sitting that day at Yankee Stadium.
So what the hell happened? It’s not that hard to put the pieces together: The team (Cherington and Valentine both, probably) didn’t want Crawford in the lineup against Sabathia. Crawford can’t hit lefties and Sabathia is the best lefty in the American League, which makes it kind of a perfect storm.
Rather then just benching him though – for fear of embarrassing him – Valentine came up with some elaborate plan to justify the reason behind Crawford sitting, even though anybody with half a brain could see that Crawford was being benched because you could pencil him in for an 0-for-5 with two K’s if he actually played.
Here’s why the Red Sox are so ******* dysfunctional: they came up with a fake plan to give to the media as to why Crawford was sitting, only they didn’t think things through far enough. They couldn’t even get the fake plan right. You know why? Because Crawford wasn’t going to sit every fourth day going forward. They need him in there to win games. So when they came up with that ******** to give the media about him sitting every fifth day, they didn’t even take into account the fact that it would be disproven literally within the next week!
Once the light bulb finally went off, they realized that they couldn’t keep up the facade anymore and Cherington told the media that there was no plan. He tried to minimize the situation by saying there was a misunderstanding or something, but he might as well have been saying, “Sorry about that. We didn’t want Crawford to hit against CC, so we benched him and lied about it. Then we got caught in a lie because we weren’t smart enough to think about the actual long term effects of the lie. My bad.”
Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.
And that’s not even the worst thing that’s happened in the last couple of weeks, as mindboggling as that may be. That’s only a blip on the radar in the neverending soap opera on Yawkey Way.
In a radio interview with WEEI, Bobby Valentine told of a story that illustrates just how screwed up everything is, from top to bottom. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, that after a Will Middlebrooks had a bad inning defensively, he came into the dugout and Valentine said something like, “Nice inning, kid.” Of course, he was saying it sarcastically. He then went on to say that he thought he had established a relationship with Middlebrooks where he could joke around with him, and that he meant no harm.
He went on to talk about how he talked to Middlebrooks in the locker room about a time when he – Valentine – made three errors in an inning and got booed. It was a learning experience.
However – and I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around this – somebody in the dugout overheard the “Nice inning, kid,” comment and reported it to ownership. Somebody in ownership - Larry Lucchino, John Henry, Tom Werner – then went and talked to Valentine about it, as if it was a problem.
That is as ridiculous a baseball story as I’ve ever heard in my life. This sort of thing doesn’t happen with other teams. It just doesn’t. But here, it’s just the next step in a long line of the absurd.
After saying that on the radio, Bobby talked about it again at his press conference the following day. He told basically the same story, and also said that was the “stupidest thing I’ve ever said on the radio.” Yet, there he was again, telling the story for everyone to hear a second time.
He doesn’t actually think it was stupid for him to say it on the air. He was just saying that to appease the men upstairs, to have some sort of defense when they get angry at him for telling the story in the first place. In reality, he wants that story to get out – which is why he told it again. It was an act of rebellion. It was his way of showing his distrust for the organization. What does he care, at this point? He’ll be fired after the season anyway.
Someone in the media asked him if he was surprised that somebody ratted him out to ownership.
His reply? “It was expected because some guys don’t get it.”
Nobody gets it. Forget some guys. The Middlebrooks situation brings to light three major questions:
1. Should Bobby V have said that in the first place?
2. Who the hell is the rat, and why would he ever think it was the right move to report something like that to ownership?
3. Why would ownership care anyway?
I don’t know the answer to any of them. What should have been a non-issue – a little, off-the-cuff remark from a manager to a player – has turned into a conspiracy that wouldn’t be believable if it was on a daytime TV Show.
Only in Boston could there be two rats in the clubhouse over a 10-month span. Two snitches. And this time, we know for sure it’s not Kevin Youkilis.
Still, amidst all this turmoil, the Red Sox were playing good baseball recently. They won the CC Sabathia game, then won the next three games against the Yankees and Tigers. A four-game winning streak was their longest in two months.
But, as is tradition with this team, it fell apart as soon as it started. Consistency went right out the window, again. They’ve since lost two straight – a winnable game to the Tigers, and a pitiful 5-0 loss at home to the Twins, the worst team in the AL – in which they were dumbfounded by an unheralded rookie and wasted Jon Lester’s best start in months.
You can’t make this stuff up.