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.
“Once you get there [Boston], it’s a little different than you expect,’’ said Crawford. “You start to say, ‘Is it ever going to end?’ ’’
Seriously? Are we really supposed to believe Crawford was beaten up here? Fans wanted the guy to succeed. He failed. Miserably. He was never the same player who terrorized the Sox when he played in Tampa.
Want to know how the Red Sox felt about Carl Crawford? They had a little saying about it after the 2011 season. It went like this.
“Carl Crawford? When he played against us, we hated him. When he played for us . . . we hated him.”
As for Gonzo, he’s one of the purest hitters in the majors. He’s smooth. He’s Smokey Robinson in the batter’s box. In the clubhouse, he’s an annoying Cliff Clavin know-it-all. He fancies himself a leader. He is not.
In the last three seasons, Gonzalez has been standing at first base, batting third, for three of the worst folds in big league history: the 2010 Padres, the 2011 Red Sox, and the 2012 Dodgers. Look it up. A-Gon is the true Cooler.
“Being a leader for the people outside is not the same as being one for those in the clubhouse,’’ Gonzalez told USA Today. “You’ll hear things like, ‘He’s not a vocal leader.’ But if you ask the players, they’ll tell you that I’m that guy.’’
Actually, no. I asked Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia about Gonzalez as a leader.
“In ’11 we still had Tek [Jason Varitek],’’ said Salty. “He was our captain. He was our leader. The next year we still had our pitching staff and David [Ortiz] and Pedey [Dustin Pedroia]. Adrian was viewed as a guy who was a great ballplayer. I talked to him about hitting. Because he hadn’t been here for a long time, I don’t think anyone looked at him and said, ‘Hey, what are we supposed to do?’ ’’
OK, fine. Gonzo is not a leader. What about the notion that Boston is a toxic place to play baseball?
“I understand in a way what they are talking about,’’ said Salty. “There is that image that we’ve got to win and the fans expect that. But as a player with the competitiveness that we have, that’s what you want. You want that feeling. The day I got traded over here I felt that. In the clubhouse. Out on the street. At the field. So if you’re not playing well, it’s tough. But that’s what we want. You don’t want people saying, ‘We sucked this year, but that’s OK. They’re really good guys.’ No. We’re here to win.’’
Sox reliever Daniel Bard, who knows what it is like to fail in Boston, added, “To me, it’s as hard as you make it. I’ve been on both sides. I’m been on a playoff team here and I was here last year when we just weren’t very good. The media rides the highs and lows. If we’re doing well, everything’s great. If we lose a few, it’s the end of the world. The good teams I’ve been on here, we were able to ignore that stuff. Everyone’s going to ask the questions. The more drama we can keep out of the clubhouse, the better. It’s probably harder to do here than anywhere else in baseball.
“I think last year it overwhelmed the clubhouse and caused rifts between players, between players and staff. That’s probably where the toxic came from. I don’t think there’s a bunch of bad people in this clubhouse out to get anybody. But if you let the ups and downs get to you, it can be a hard place to play.’’
Softy Carl is happy in Dodger blue.
“I’m in a place where I feel a lot better about myself,’’ said Crawford. “I just feel like the player I once was.”
Can Josh Beckett please tell these guys to shut up?
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.