Red Sox owners got back from the Olympics on Saturday.
As part of the ongoing effort to assist our former business partners (alas, the New York Times Co. no longer owns 17 percent of the fabled franchise), here’s what the Sox bosses missed while they were overseeing their all-important LeBron James investment in London:
They missed another week of dead-ass, .500 baseball. They missed three straight losses to the Tigers and Twins. They missed Friday night, when the tin soldiers of Fenway held a 5-1 lead over the moribund Twins, then lost 6-5, in 10, falling below .500 yet again.
They missed a chance to trade Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers for a bunch of players who could help build for the future in Boston. The Dodgers really wanted Gonzo and I’m thinking the Sox could learn to live without him just as they learned to live without Nick Esasky.
They missed a week of radio gold from Bobby Valentine.
Bobby went on his paid gig on WEEI and elected to tell a story that demonstrates the rampant dysfunction of the entire Sox operation. It was a story from earlier this season when Valentine teased Will Middlebrooks after the rookie kicked a couple of balls around third base.
In case you missed it, here’s what Bobby said about it one day later:
“He came into the dugout, he made a couple of errors, and I said, ‘Nice inning, kid.’ I had thought I had established a relationship with him where I could say something like that and he would kind of smile or relax a little. Maybe he grimaced, but somebody overheard it and decided that it was a very dreadful thing for a manager to say to a young player, and decided to repeat it a few times, this dreadful thing. And that person didn’t go to the locker room with me when I went with Will after the game to explain to him when I made three errors in a game and I was 21 years old and the fans went and booed me off the field, and how I got through it and how other people get through it. It’s a great learning experience.
“I don’t think Will has been mortally wounded by that 2½ months ago comment.’’
Valentine told us that someone went to Sox management to complain about his treatment of Middlebrooks. When I asked him if that bothered him, Valentine said, “No. It was expected because some guys don’t get it.’’
Then he said that talking about the incident was “the most stupid thing that I ever said on a radio program, but it was also ridiculous for someone to repeat it, I think, and that was the point I was trying to make.’’
Nice try, Bobby. Clearly, you wanted us to know that you are being undermined in your own clubhouse. Why else spill the old story? And it’s amazing that Sox management would listen to complaints from any players after last September’s fiasco.
Now everybody’s trying to guess who ratted out Bobby to the bosses. A lot of us have candidates. I’m going with the aforementioned Gonzalez as my top suspect. Call it unfair. Or call it an informed guess. I e-mailed John Henry and asked him. No response. What a surprise.
The Sox have lost their way in every way. Bobby insists he’s not trying to get fired, but he’s tired of a front office that’s always in his office; makes him apologize for being mean to Kevin Youkilis; and listens to a player who runs up the back stairs and repeats a completely benign comment (I once tried to get Earl Weaver to say something nice about his best pinch hitter, Terry Crowley, and Earl said, “Crowley? He’s lucky he’s in the big leagues. If it wasn’t for me, he’d be working in a brewery.’’).
Sox hitters who used to grind out at-bats have lost their way. There’s no fight in them anymore. The Sox used to rank at the top of the majors in walks and on-base percentage. Going into Saturday night’s game, the Sox were 12th in baseball in OBP and 23d in walks. That’s how you get yourself shut out by a Twins pitcher with four big league starts on his résumé.
A team that is 0-4 in home extra-inning games is a team with no fight.
“There’s a difference between being a talented group and a winning group,’’ Cody Ross said Friday.
This phony extra wild card is killing them. In any other year they would have acknowledged it’s over and started thinking about the future. Now they talk about “only four games” out. Sure. They were also only three games ahead of the Seattle Mariners when they took the field Saturday night.
This is no longer a small sample. Since the start of September, the Red Sox are 60-75. They have officially played two-thirds of the 2012 season and they are still not over .500. They could become the first Red Sox team to finish under .500 at home in 15 years.
Welcome back from the Olympics, John, Tom, and Larry. Unfortunately, not much good happened here while you were gone.