Wednesday, the Boston Globe released a much publicized story on the state of the 2011 Boston Red Sox, that implied that former manager Terry Francona had lost all control of the team while struggling with his marriage and multiple knee injuries that may or may not have caused him to develop an addiction to pain killers.
Team sources said Francona, who has acknowledged losing influence with some former team leaders, appeared distracted during the season by issues related to his troubled marriage and to his health.
The piece goes on to describe the level of discontent in the clubhouse ranging from Adrian Gonzalez' bizarre quote about having to play too many Sunday night games to the speculation of increased body fat of the pitching staff thanks to a steady diet of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, fried chicken and beer. Coupled with Tim Wakefield's selfish pursuit of win #200 (read: going out and pitching every five days), this caused the entire team to forget how to play baseball.
The story, of course, is little more than a hatchet job from the propaganda arm of the Red Sox. All of these facts were well known by the Globe weeks ago but either went unreported in order to protect a team that was still the midst of a playoff chase or were fed to the writers by an ownership group trying to deflect blame.
Now that the season is over and big changes are on the way, the paper has begun to spin the teams spectacular collapse toward the players and away from the increasingly disinterested owners who signed off on the outrageous contracts that brought this group together.
Make no mistake about it, had the Red Sox made the playoffs and avoided their major collapse, this story would have never seen the light of day.
Why would the Globe be so anxious to bend to the will of Sox ownership?
The Boston Globe, in case people have forgotten is owned by the New York Times which owns a minority stake in the Red Sox (although that stake was decreased back in July when the Times sold off about half of its 20% interest). Therefore, the Globe has a vested interest in keeping the owners of the Red Sox happy and not interfering with the team's focus during the season by, you know, doing their jobs.
Our own Bruce Allen was the first to question whether the Globe was sitting on the story of the teams dysfunction throughout the final weeks of the season, but not only does that appear to be the case, it also seems that the Sox ownership is dictating stories to its media subordinate.
The story is backed up by the ever popular "anonymous sources" and only a few player quotes, all of which have no relevance to the narrative that the team was disjointed and disliked playing together.
The kicker, at least for me, was the line about management being split on the pursuit of Carl Crawford, and laying the blame at the feet of the soon to be departed Theo Epstein.
Ownership was divided over Epstein’s push to acquire Crawford as a free agent, sources said. At least one top executive believed Crawford’s skills as a speedy lefthanded-hitting outfielder seemed to duplicate Ellsbury’s.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if there was any divide whatsoever on a player that is going to earn $142 million and be a cornerstone of the franchise, the deal doesn't get done. Given that nobody but the people in the room would have known about a potential divide, this pretty much guarantees that the bulk of the story came from Sox ownership and was designed to take the heat off themselves and put it on people who aren't with the franchise anymore and don't have to answer questions about it.
The Globe has long been accused of a lack of transparency when it comes to playing favorites, whether it be in the realm of politics or when it comes to the topic of the Red Sox. But, in this particular instance, the Globe has sunk has to a new low in selling what remained of its journalistic integrity to bow to the whims of men like John Henry and Larry Lucchino.