Apparently, I need to clarify something.
The Boston sports media is not responsible for the conflagration that is the 2012 Boston Red Sox.
While that may not qualify as breaking news for most of you out there, it seems that some people are of the belief that I (and Red Sox management) think that the media is somehow to blame for this disaster of a season.
I'm not talking about asking how much influence Michael Felger's daily rants about Josh Beckett led to his being booed in a game in which he had to leave due to injury. I'm talking about those who think that someone like me, who is critical of the coverage of the team, actually believes that the media is somehow having an impact on what is going on out on the field.
Being critical of the media and its coverage and blaming them for the failure of this baseball team are two different things.
The following is an actual comment received on my website this week:
MESSAGE TO ALL THE FANBOYS…THE LOCAL MEDIA IS NOT TO BLAME FOR THE SOX TROUBLES….IN FACT THE BASEBALL GUYS IN THIS TOWN ARE IN THE BAG FOR THE SOX…PLEASE STOP DIRECTING YOUR ANGER AT GUYS LIKE HAGS AND ACCEPT THE FACT THAT THIS TEAM YOU MAKE EXCUSES FOR IS A BUNCH OF OVERPAID BABIES WITH NO CLASS AND PROFESSIONALISM AND STOP BLAMING THE HOCKEY GUY FOR EXPOSING YOUR TEAM FOR THE JOKE THAT IT IS.
OK. I actually don't have much issue with this fine young man's (I'm assuming) characterization of the Red Sox. But when it comes to the media, I get critical of them when they go overboard and pound stories into the ground which are not deserving.
Josh Beckett playing golf on his day off, injured or not, was a red herring. John Lackey drinking beer in the road clubhouse is a red herring. The local media went beserk over those stories, which may have been valid things to report in themselves, (not on the days-long news cycle they generated) but at the same time, the media somehow missed out on the larger stories which were unearthed this season by the likes of national writers Buster Olney (ESPN) and Jeff Passan (Yahoo!). Were they spending too much time on the micro and not the macro?
Other writers were too busy fawning over Bobby Valentine - a trend which continues, as a glance at the top story of the Sunday Globe's Sports Section last week will attest - and wondering about Carl Crawford's mental and physical makeup. Some have honed in on the subpar performances of Jon Lester, Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and injuries to Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Bailey.
None of those things individually is to blame, and some have been overstated in terms of importance, but I would never make the leap that the media is somehow to blame for this disaster of a season.
That's an opinion I'm not sure the owners of the club share. In a head-scratching email on Wednesday afternoon, principal owner John Henry seemed more focused on telling us that the media was inaccurate in their reports, and expressing horror that someone leaked details of the meeting to the media rather than personally stating the resolve to do whatever it took to turn this thing around.
Then on Thursday morning, in a soft-shoe interview with WEEI, Larry Lucchino said, "There is an intensity and a breadth of the media coverage here that is different from most other places.” He went on to add, “I’m just trying to respond generally to the notion of the intense media coverage that exists in Boston. I recognize that it’s a double-edged sword. It’s one of the things that keeps our fans interested and passionate and to some degree, knowledgeable. As I said earlier, there is a real danger of misleading the public that comes about with some of these circumstances.”
Again, it sound liked Lucchino was more concerned with how the media was reporting what was happening (misleading the public!) instead of giving assurances.
Normally, I love some good media-bashing from ownership and front-office types, but in this case, it's not warranted. The Red Sox have no one to blame but themselves for this mess. As much as the owners insist they are every bit as invested in the Red Sox time-wise as they have ever been, the perception is much different. When the Red Sox were winning, it seemed like the owners were omnipresent. Now, they're antipresent.
Meanwhile, the players have underperformed, and Bobby Valentine has stuck his foot in his mouth on more occasions than we can remember.
The organization is a mess from top to bottom, and it can only be fixed from the top down.
The media has nothing to do with that.