Jon Lester, speaking for the first time since accusations were brought against him, Josh Beckett and John Lackey that the Boston Red Sox' pitching trio were drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games, admitted that there was drinking during the game, but it wasn't the reason the team fell apart.
"There's a perception out there that we were up there getting hammered and that wasn't the case," Lester told The Globe via telephone from his home in Georgia. "Was it a bad habit? Yes. I should have been on the bench more than I was. But we just played bad baseball as a team in September. We stunk. To be honest, we were doing the same things all season when we had the best record in baseball."
Lester said the drinking was confined to starting pitchers who weren't in the game that day. "It was a ninth-inning rally beer," he said. "We probably ordered chicken from Popeye's like once a month. That happened. But that's not the reason we lost.
"Most of the times, it was one beer, a beer. It was like having a Coke in terms of how it affected you. I know how it looks to people and it probably looks bad. But we weren't up there just drinking and eating and nobody played video games. We watched the game." (via Boston Globe)
Lester and his Red Sox finished the season going 7-20 in the month of September, ultimately blowing a nine-game lead in the AL Wild Card over the Tampa Bay Rays. Not only did the team miss the playoffs, but the epic collapse cost manager Terry Francona his job.
"I love Tito and he did a great job for us when he was here. On a personal level I was more than grateful for what he did for me and my family," Lester said. "But there comes a time when your authority is no longer there. You kind of run your course. People knew how Tito was and we pushed the envelope with it. We never had rules, we never had that iron-fist mentality. If you screwed up, he called you on it. That was how it worked. I never saw guys purposely breaking rules or doing the wrong thing in front of him and rubbing it in his face. But this particular team probably needed more structure." (via Boston Globe)
Read more of Lester's quotes on the Red Sox collapse in Peter Abraham's story on Boston.com.