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Red Sox Ownership Held A Contentious Meeting Two Weeks Ago With Players Who Wanted Bobby Valentine Fired
Well folks, the situation in Boston has gone from bad to worse and the much publicized discontent in the Red Sox clubhouse with divisive manager Bobby Valentine hit a critical mass. Apparently, it didn’t sit well with some of Jon Lester’s teammates when Valentine embarrassed the starter by leaving him in to give up 11 runs on a July 22 start against the Blue Jays.
It prompted the Sox clubhouse, led by Adrian Gonzalez, to call a meeting with owners John Henry and Larry Lucchino where they were pleaded by players to give Valentine the pink slip.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports broke the story earlier today, citing sources who wished to remain anonymous because they were not permitted to speak on such internal matters. Lucky for us, they spoke to Passan anyway and gave some interesting, yet not at all shocking insight into the July 26th meeting:
Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia were among the most vocal in the meeting, in which some players stated flatly they no longer wanted to play for Valentine, the sources said…
Not all of the Red Sox players attended the meeting, the sources said, highlighting the chasm that exists not only between some players and Valentine but among players in the clubhouse. The perception that Valentine is being scapegoated unfairly to divert attention from mediocre performances by star players exists among some players, according to sources.
Yikes. Schism on top of schism isn’t exactly the kind of clubhouse culture you want (“Can’t we go back to just chillaxin’ and drinkin’ some brewskies?”), but general manager Ben Cherington is still holding out hope, for some silly reason.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington confirmed the meeting. Although he declined to provide specifics about what was said, he told Yahoo! Sports: “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.”
Yes Ben, it must have been profoundly productive. Their 8-9 record since must be a sign that they’ve had a change of heart and decided to rally around their manager with a newfound devotion.
“Since then, we have not gone on the run we were supposed to.”
Yeah, that sounds more like it, but their record is still not the only fallout from the meeting that was supposed to turn around their season. It wouldn’t be a real party without Terry Francona! (He brought the beers.)
A general lack of respect for Valentine has pervaded the clubhouse throughout the season. It may have peaked two days after the meeting, on July 28, when Francona entered the Red Sox’s clubhouse as an ESPN analyst. He started talking with Pedroia, his most strident loyalist. Other players soon joined the conversation, which lingered for 45 minutes. Francona apologized the next day.
Not exactly the kind of stuff you want to hear if you’re a Red Sox fan. And don’t hold your breath, but it might get worse before it gets better. Sox ownership is staunchly committed to Valentine through the end of the season, so even if your team is only 5 1/2 games out of that elusive second Wild Card spot, it doesn’t look like the leaders of this team want to play for Valentine past the end of September.
I don’t think it’s too early to brand this season a failed chemistry experiment conducted by Cherington and Sox ownership. It probably wasn’t too early to do so two months ago, but this meeting was the icing on the cake (a cake that probably tastes awful).
[Yahoo! Sports, photo via Getty]
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