Boston Red Sox: Time For An Attitude Change
"People have to eat, whether it's chicken or steak. ... More than anything, it was just the fact we didn't play good baseball."
That quote is from the first baseman of the Boston Red Sox, Adrian Gonzalez, who was making the rounds at ESPN on Wednesday to talk about the upcoming baseball season. And of course, he was asked about the collapse and subsequent Chicken & Beer-Gate that followed. The above quote was his justification of the starting pitching staff becoming out of shape, entitled and arrogant.
And that is the attitude that the folks down on Yawkey Way need to change quickly if they expect to be back at the top of the American League.
Now, don't get me wrong - Gonzalez is a pleasure to watch and has become one of the best pure hitters in all of baseball, but this isn't the first time he has made excuses. Following the Sox' shocking elimination from playoff contention in September, the Sox' leading hitter had this to say to the media, "I'm a firm believer that God has a plan and it wasn't in his plan for us to move forward. God didn't have it in the cards for us."
I respect Gonzalez' faith, but the reason the Red Sox failed to make the playoffs was not because of God, injuries or the schedule. It was simply because the team gave up. They became complacent, tuning out Terry Francona in the process. There was no passion – with the exception of Dustin Pedroia – in the team's play down the stretch.
They were an embarrassment in September and ultimately suffered the greatest collapse in baseball history, blowing a 9.5 game lead to the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Wild Card race.
And Gonzalez' teammate / ring-leader of the chicken eating, beer drinking starting staff, Josh Beckett, had some similar remarks on MLB Network last week.
"The biggest key was, we stunk on the field," Beckett said. "That was the bottom line. If we would have pitched better, none of that stuff would have been an issue. It shouldn't be an issue anyways, because what goes on in the clubhouse should stay in the clubhouse. I don't care who says that or whatever. I'm not saying we don't make mistakes in the clubhouse. What goes on in the clubhouse, it's supposed to stay in the clubhouse."
What goes on in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse? Come on. He's right the Sox did stink, but Beckett's missing the point. He is more upset that someone ratted him out than his plus-five ERA in September.
The Sox need a serious reality-check and if the attitude of "everything was fine last year, we just didn't play well" is going to be on display when the team reports to Ft. Myers this weekend, they're in big trouble.
What happened to accountability? How about something like, "We made some mistakes last year and we need to make sure they don't happen again."
That would be the right thing to say. Apologies are nice but accountability is better.
It's as if they think they are just going to show up and everything is going to be fine again. Well, that's not going to happen. The American League is deep, with the Angels, Tigers and Yankees all making major improvements and if the Sox don't get their act together, they could be on the outside looking in once again, come October.
The Red Sox have NOT won a single playoff game since 2008. With the amount of talent on the roster over the past three seasons, that seems impossible. So, it's easy to see that the problem goes beyond talent -- Beckett, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, when healthy, can be one of the best starting pitching tandems in baseball and Pedroia, Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury are all top-10 MVP candidates -- there is a fundamental problem with the culture around this team.
So, when camp gets going next week, the Sox will have the majority of their core back in place. The one change is at the top. Bobby Valentine is in charge now.
The question is: will he be enough to turn things around?
Will he be able to change the attitude in Sox' clubhouse?
Only time will tell.
There is only one given. The Sox will be motivated to prove people wrong after all that happened last season, but when the going gets rough during the dog days of summer, which team will show up?
Gonzalez did say one thing during his interview today that the Sox should live by this season "We owe it to the fans to give them a better ending,"
Let's hope there's more of that attitude and less of the "people have to eat" approach.
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