Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bostoned Out - II

Today's column features two former Red Sox players, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, traded to the L.A. Dodgers last year. Fitting that a column that looks to the past contains a Beatles refernce, isn't it?
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Thousands of miles to the west, in the middle of the desert, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez still haunt the Red Sox.

Crawford and A-Gon are still crying about the blue meanies of Boston. Who knew that Josh Beckett would be the stand-up guy who takes his lumps and keeps quiet?

First we heard from Crawford in Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times. He described the Boston baseball environment as “toxic.’’

“I knew with the struggles I was having, it would never get better for me,’’ cried Crawford. “It puts you in a kind of a depression stage. You just don’t see a way out.’’

Naturally, things are better now that he’s with the Dodgers.

A day later, Gonzalez brought out the big lumber in USA Today.

“Chemistry is something you need among the ballplayers, but also with the owners, the coaches, and the front office,’’ said Gonzalez. “In Boston, we had great chemistry among the players — we were together — but that was only among the players. It wasn’t there with the rest. That’s why the team didn’t win. It needs to be an organization-wide thing.’’

“It’s hard to me to interpret what he was saying,’’ said Sox CEO Larry Lucchino. “It sounded pretty general. He could have been referring to managers, coaches, front office people. I’m not going to comment on the possibilities. I really don’t know. I have fond feelings for him and I wish him good luck where he is, so I don’t see it as an overall accusation against the franchise.’’

Right. As dumb and dysfunctional as the Sox were last year, Gonzo is a fraud. And Crawford sounds like a wimp. Please. These guys were paid tens of millions of dollars and managed only to fail. They were part of the worst September collapse in baseball history. Then they were part of the trainwreck of 2012.
What's interesting about this column is what Shank chose not to write. Shank just helped Terry Francona write a book about his tenure as manager of the Red Sox, where there was a certain level of criticism directed at Larry Lucchino, the man in charge of the management structure / the front office and, presumably, criticism of other parts of the organization to one extent or another. The tension between players and certain members of the management structure (Bobby Valentine in particular) was front page news last year. It is safe to say that Adrian Gonzalez's main point in the above paragraphs largely supports one of the themes of the Francona book, namely organizational dysfunction, which Shank not only co-wrote but had a certain level of influence on. Is there anyone out there who thinks Shank would not use this to his advantage and keep bashing Red Sox management & ownership?

So why did Shank respond to Crawford & Gonzalez like he did? Did he just reflexively trash former Boston athletes as the 'frauds' and 'wimps' they are, failing to live up to the hype and their multi-million dollar contracts, or

...did he not want to use the opportunity to trumpet Gonzalez's statement about organizational dysfunction and keep taking shots at management (read - Lucchino) because someone told him / he decided that he needs to be nice to Lucchino for a while and let things cool down, lest Lucchino hire some black hats and has Shank taken out Bulgarian style? I can't bring myself to give Shank credit for being clever enough to come up with this latter option, but it's perfect cover if you buy the former option. My head is spinning on this one...

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