The Red Sox are not only a horrible baseball team, they are also ever-divided. And really hard to like.
After playing a game Wednesday — the day the NBA shut down and three major league games were postponed — the Sox had a team vote Thursday and agreed to stand behind Jackie Bradley Jr., who had told his teammates he wasn’t going to play Thursday. In the early hours after the decision to boycott was announced, Sox outfielder Kevin Pillar and reliever Ryan Brasier made their true feelings known.
Participating in a Zoom news conference, Pillar said, “It was not an easy decision for a lot of us . . . We all have different beliefs. We don’t agree on everything . . . I don’t think right now, as a country, we should be necessarily identifying individual groups of people that need to be uplifted.”
A few hours after Pillar spoke, Brasier retweeted a video mocking Doc Rivers’s emotional response to the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wis. It’s truly hateful and appalling stuff. See if you can find it. Search Twitter for Hodgetwins — conservative comedians with almost 600,000 followers. Brasier evidently is a big fan. Pinky Higgins would be so proud. Color me haunted.
Brasier’s retweet was discovered Friday by NBC Sports Boston’s John Tomase. Brasier did not respond to Tomase’s request for comment, but he deleted the retweet from his timeline. Ron Roenicke said that Brasier reached out to Bradley and the Sox manager to explain his actions. Wonder what Brasier would say to Rivers, whose father was a cop.
I spoke with Sox baseball boss Chaim Bloom after midnight Friday.
“I talked to Ryan about this today,” said Bloom. “He was very apologetic and regretted the timing, and the message that the timing sent. He took down one of those tweets and spent time having a lot of conversations in our clubhouse with people he felt he needed to have conversations with. He was upset and regretful about the entire thing . . . This wasn’t something that we felt warranted discipline. He made a mistake, but once he did I think he took a lot of the right steps to try to make amends.”
This is so Boston Red Sox. In a week of American protest and crisis, the Sox stood small while so many around them demonstrated dignity and unity. While America paused to take a long look in the mirror, the Red Sox provided division and continuation of a culture that has long plagued the Boston baseball franchise.
“You bring any group of this many people together, you’re bound to have people with different views and different thoughts,” said Bloom. “Peaceful protests are about changing minds. If we can’t look at progress that gets made towards a goal in a room of people with very different opinions — if we can’t look at that and see progress, then we’re undermining our own goals.”
“We don’t demand that everyone have the same political opinion,” added Sox CEO Sam Kennedy.
Good. This is America. You are not obligated to agree with everyone else, and a big league ball club doesn’t release a player for being a dumbbell.
But why can’t Pillar and Brasier keep their different views behind closed doors? This was an opportunity to back a teammate without pushing one’s own agenda. Most other teams presented as unified. Would a little unity from the Red Sox be too much to ask?
I truly wish these 2020 Red Sox could play in front of fans at Fenway. It would expose them to the boos they so richly deserve. And not just because they are 10-22. They remind me of the loathsome Joe Kerrigan Red Sox of 2001. Mike Lansing. Carl Everett. You remember those guys, right?
These Sox certainly honor the ball club’s time-tested legacy of “25 players, 25 cabs.” They have only one Black player, just as they did when they were baseball’s last team to integrate 61 years ago. And they can’t seem to agree on anything.
On Saturday afternoon, a few hours after the first version of this column was posted on the Globe’s website, Pillar delivered a heartfelt video apology on Twitter, saying in part, “After having some time to reflect, I’d like to take this opportunity to better explain what I did a terrible job of expressing to the media the other day regarding our team’s decision to not play . . . My point I was trying to make is that we have a responsibility as human beings to uplift each other and make each other better every single day. We as individuals need to take responsibility for what is going on across the country and make it stop . . . Black Lives do matter to me. Always have and always will.”
Remember last year when the defending world champs were summoned to be honored at the White House? All the white guys went to Washington. With the exception of J.D. Martinez and Sandy Leon, all the Sox persons of color stayed home.
Opening night at Fenway, 2020? All the visiting Orioles took a knee during a pregame presentation dedicated to Black Lives Matter. Several Red Sox kneeled — Bradley, Alex Verdugo, first base coach Tom Goodwin, third base coach Carlos Febles, and the entire medical staff. Everybody else stood.
Now we have the last-place Sox stacking loss after loss like a pile of cord wood, then going public with clubhouse division during a week of protest and reflection by every team in every sport.
After Friday afternoon’s unfortunate flurry, Bradley, Brasier, and the rest of the Red Sox participated in a pregame ceremony at Fenway commemorating Jackie Robinson’s first day in baseball. When all players stood at attention, I couldn’t help but wonder what Ryan Brasier was thinking.