Even while Red Sox fans were still reeling from the final outs of the season, whispers started flowing about things that were going on "behind the scenes" with this team during the final month-plus of the season.
In the two days following the disastrous end to the season, all sorts of juicy information came out. We learned from John Tomase the following:
According to multiple sources with knowledge of the meeting, Francona was in part annoyed over complaints about the buses to the ballpark and wanted players to focus their energy more positively.
Meanwhile, a number of players put themselves into a position to have their professionalism called into question. According to multiple sources, more than one pitcher drank beer in the clubhouse during games on the days he didn’t pitch.
While clubhouse imbibing is a tradition as old as baseball itself -— Kevin Millar and the Idiots memorably sipped Jack Daniel’s before beating the Yankees in the final two games of the 2004 ALCS — the Red Sox also had a number of players break down during the season, suggesting that they weren’t taking proper care of themselves. Strength coach Dave Page, long considered one of the best in the game, was not a fully utilized resource.
And then from Jackie MacMullan we learned that Jacoby Ellsbury keeps to himself, confiding only in Jed Lowrie and that:
The injured Youkilis showed up every day the way he wanted Ellsbury to, but he turned so sour and cynical that his carping and insistence on inserting himself into other people's affairs turned him into a detriment.
There were other items scattered here and there, including rumors in smaller circles about Terry Francona's personal life as well. This information all came out startlingly fast, that it led me to a couple of questions.
1) Where did this information come from, and why did it come out so quickly?
2) Did the reporters know all along these things were going on and chose not to report it, perhaps saving it for a later, strategically-timed column? (A time-honored tradition for MacMullan.)
For the first question, you've got to wonder about the motivation of people so quick to throw people under the bus to the media in this fashion. Who did this? Payers? Front office people? Clubhouse personnel? Were they trying to save themselves, perhaps putting the heat and blame on others before the spotlight could be turned on themselves? The bit about the players drinking in the clubhouse during games could only have come from someone on the inside. It had to have been either another player, a clubhouse attendant, or a front office person.
The timing of it all doesn't add up to me. I can see in certain situations, someone wanting to save their skin and the throw someone else under the bus, but there was too much in this case. Too many things going on and being reported that it just seems unrealistic to me that the first time that reporters heard about these things going on was the day after the season ended.
So that leads me to the second question. My strong feeling is that some in the media did know just how bad things were, but said little or nothing along the way. Whether they feared being labeled as negative on a team that was still very much in the playoff hunt, or if they had ulterior motives (such as a future expose column to be published just prior to the biggest playoff game of the postseason) in mind, I can't say.
It just seems inconceivable to me that they didn't know how bad things had gotten with that team. Now obviously reporters are not in the clubhouse during games, so the part about pitchers drinking during off days had to come from the inside, but most of the other stuff seems like it would've been known and observable by someone paying attention.
We never heard a peep until it was all over and the team had completely the worst collapse in MLB history. Why?