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Carl Crawford “creeped out” by the Red Sox

Feb 23, 2011, 9:15 AM EDT

crawford-and-epstein Getty Images

Last week general manager Theo Epstein revealed that the Red Sox had scouts tracking Carl Crawford on and off the field last season in preparation for potentially signing him as a free agent, saying it was “as if we were privately investigating him.”

That was apparently news to Crawford, who told Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com yesterday that he was “creeped out a little bit” and “a little freaked out” to learn of the Red Sox’s surveillance, calling it “a little weird.”

Here’s more from Crawford:

I didn’t say nothing, but I’m from an area where if somebody’s doing that to you, they’re not doing anything good. I get paranoid when I hear those kind of stories, so I definitely take a different approach when I do things now. It did have an effect on me, let me put it that way. I definitely look over my shoulder now a lot more than what I did before.

Just when he told me that, the idea of him following me everywhere I go, was kind of, I wasn’t comfortable with that at all. I don’t know how they do it, how much distance they keep from you when they watch you the whole time. I definitely check my back now, at least 100 yard radius. I’m always looking over my shoulder now. Now I look before I go in my house. I’d better not see anything suspicious now.

Crawford’s reaction has predictably led to Epstein backtracking a bit from his original statements, beginning with saying that the “as if we were privately investigating him” line was “a bad figure of speech.” Here’s more from Epstein:

Our scouts just did a real thorough job on background, that’s all. Felt like we got to know him real well, that’s all. I told him we got to know him real well and we really respected the decisions he made, even away from the park. We told him we trusted him with a long-term contract because of his work ethic and his decision-making, so we’d be involved in the bidding.

Epstein also indicated that the Red Sox have previously followed other potential free agent targets in a similar manner, which probably has quite a few star players feeling “creeped out” today. Ultimately a $142 million contract can smooth over a lot of “weird” feelings and Crawford did tell Edes he understands “that’s what they have to do when they’re making that kind of investment.” Still, this is an awfully strange way for a seven-year relationship to begin. After all, you don’t often hear about a stalker actually marrying a stalkee.

  1. Ari Collins - Feb 23, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    Weird story.

    Probably he’s being honest that it was just “a real thorough job on background, that’s all.” And probably this is forgotten once all involved (especially the fans and especially especially the media) have actual baseball to focus on.

    But still. Weird story.

    • thinman61 - Feb 23, 2011 at 10:29 AM

      Only a few short weeks until we get to hear those magic words–“Play Ball”–and read stories about actual baseball.

      • spudchukar - Feb 23, 2011 at 8:06 PM

        Good on you Skinny! Winter is long.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Feb 23, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    They’re trailing THE FAT TOAD too, but all the Universe got for it’s investment was 412 trips to Jack-In-The-Box.

    • apbaguy - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:00 PM

      That’s funny. I live for my daily FAT TOAD abuse.

  3. Jonny 5 - Feb 23, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    Regardless of the creepy factor, I can see why the RS would do this for a huge contract like that.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:42 PM

      Depends how personal they got.

  4. dirtyharry1971 - Feb 23, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    He thinks this was creepy? Wait until he gets a good look at the redsuk fans everynite, you can hear the banjo’s playing when that happens Carl. And wait until you see how they are when they dont win, yikes!!

    • JBerardi - Feb 23, 2011 at 11:25 AM

      Yeah, because the biotech CEOs in Fenway’s field boxes really love their banjos… WTF are you talking about?

  5. ftrain021 - Feb 23, 2011 at 10:33 AM

    Wow, classy stuff, dirtyharry. Imply that Red Sox fans are red necks. You’re probably a Yankee fan, ticked off that your team doesn’t even have a valid 4th or 5th starter! Good luck with all that!

    But I digress…

    I can understand if Carl feels weird if they watched him on and off the field, but like Jonny 5 said, there’s no sense in investing that kind of money without doing research. How many people make a solid business transaction on the stock market without research? (or insider information for that matter?) Maybe if the Detroit Tigers did this with Miguel Cabrera, they wouldn’t be in the jam they’re in now (ie hiring a great talent but a raging alcoholic and most likely long term cancer for the clubhouse).

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 23, 2011 at 10:41 AM

      “How many people make a solid business transaction on the stock market without research?”

      Fred Wilpon claims he does apparently.

      • bigharold - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:53 PM

        Hey, .. c’mon. Leave Fred out of this he’s had a tough couple of weeks and may soon be broke. Besides he clearly wasn’t the only one investing “without research”.

        As a Yankee fan I’ve got to say making fun of the Mets is no longersporting. It used to be like shooting fish in a barrel. Now it’s more like shooting dead fish in a barrel.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 23, 2011 at 4:01 PM

        I know….. It has lost it’s former glory…..

    • cur68 - Feb 23, 2011 at 11:24 AM

      @ftrain021; never mind harry. He gets up on that side of the bed a lot. Can’t help it, I guess. Astute words on Miggy. He needs a nanny with club.

  6. trevorb06 - Feb 23, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    It makes you think that other teams do this as well. Honestly the RS can’t be the only ones. If I were a hot shot ball player and I found out this happened to me I’d tell them I want to meet who was following me, take him out for drinks and then have him tell all my buddies about all the beautiful women he saw me with.

  7. spudchukar - Feb 23, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    As UFY stated earlier, I still believe this is a form of tampering and MLB, needs to take a look at this more seriously. Theo may be imaginatively bright, but this coupled with the shady option clauses the Red Sox just exercised, nudges up to the impropriety line, if it doesn’t cross it.

    • cur68 - Feb 23, 2011 at 11:31 AM

      Yeah, this is the other side of the coin for me. You’d think there would be rules that teams had to adhere to when scouting/investigating talent. There should be only so much ‘following’ or ‘investigating’ allowed. This sounds like a free for all as it stands and I’d really like Theo to explain exactly what kind of scrutiny he subjects these guys to. I don’t object to looking into your investment a bit (like someone shoulda done with Miggy), but the limit to which this is allowed should be defined.

    • oldnumero7 - Feb 23, 2011 at 11:31 AM

      How can it be “tampering” if Crawford was unaware of it? The Red Sox didn’t contact him, they just exercised due dilligence.

      • spudchukar - Feb 23, 2011 at 11:48 AM

        He was under contract with the Rays at the time. “Due Diligence”, that sounds like Nixonian doublespeak for the Watergate break-in.

      • florida727 - Feb 23, 2011 at 11:52 AM

        Agree, numero. It’s not tampering. But it is “creepin’ a bit”.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 23, 2011 at 11:31 AM

      I do not think tampering means what you think it means.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 23, 2011 at 11:35 AM

        To be less snarky and more helpful: Tampering is when you negotiate or comment on a player before he’s a FA. Tampering is about getting involved, not observing. Scouting a player, even in some sort of too-in-depth way, isn’t at all against the rules of MLB.

        Nor is it illegal. It’s just weird, and, if true, kind of creepy.

      • spudchukar - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:01 PM

        I, and I believe UYF, but I should let him speak for himself, used tampering because it is the closest illegal lexical item in the current MLB playbook. Granted it isn’t tampering in the general sense of the word, but nonetheless, it conveys the meaning that he is mine and don’t mess with him until he isn’t. When a player is not under your purview, I say hands off. There are plenty of legitimate avenues of research available to the curious without some dick-like sleuthing. Theo deserves a reprimand at least, and baseball ought to nip this in the bud before it devolves into some Spy vs. Spy entanglement.

      • bigharold - Feb 23, 2011 at 2:51 PM

        Whether or not it’s tampering is debatable;

        http://sonsofsamhorn.net/wiki/index.php/MLB_Rules_and_Procedures#Tampering_Rule_-_Rule_3.28g.29

        Baseball’s tampering rule specifically prohibits “.. negotiations or dealings respecting employment, either present or prospective, between any player, coach or manager and any club other than the club with which he is under contract …”. The question is; does “dealings include following Crawford around without his knowledge or in fact making contact with him? Your guess is as good as anybody’s and I’d bet if you got four lawyers in a room you’d get five opinions about it, (cause at least one of them would be willing to argue either side if the money is right).

        Unless there is something in the CBA that expressly prohibits such actions it would seem to be acceptable from MLB’s standpoint. But, if there is nothing in the CBA about it now, I’d wager there will be limits on it after the next one. From a layman’s or fans point of view while there seems to be a logical and valid reason it is a bit creepy and intrusive

  8. psousa1 - Feb 23, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    This is what good organization do. You are going to hand over a truck load of money you better make sure this isn’t a Milton Bradley type of person. Not sure if the Yankees did this with Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Randy Johnson……………….

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:47 PM

      Only one of those three were signed by the Yanks [Sheffield]. And while he was paid about $36M for those three years, he was worth 10 bWar or $40M for equal production. So maybe do a little research before making a comment like that?

  9. scatterbrian - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Curious if the Red Sox “did a real thorough job on background” before signing John Lackey last year. Or if someone’s currently shadowing Adrian Gonzalez…

    • jh0088 - Feb 23, 2011 at 5:24 PM

      Yeah, apparently Adrian Gonzalez doesn’t have a signed extention yet… so does he have a Communist Part approved chaparone shadowing his every move to make sure he doesn’t defect?

  10. thinman61 - Feb 23, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    I know my employer ran a background check on me before extending an offer of employment, and they aren’t paying me anywhere near what the Red Sox are paying Carl Crawford.

    To the “hands off players not under your purview” commenters, I ask where you draw the line? Is it at the ballpark gate? Because plenty of teams scout players they’re even remotely thinking about trading for.

    • spudchukar - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:08 PM

      This isn’t about ON-field activities, of course it is cool to scout the actual playing of the game, it is about surreptitiously tailing your every move off the field, when you are not in the employment of said snoop.

    • bigharold - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:24 PM

      “I know my employer ran a background check on me before extending an offer of employment, and they aren’t paying me anywhere near what the Red Sox are paying Carl Crawford.”

      That doesn’t make it right, even more so because you are not getting paid what the RS are paying Crawford nor do you have a guaranteed contract. While I understand the need for criminal background checks especially for certain fields of employment “regular background” checks can get intrusive too.

      “… where you draw the line?”

      That’s really the question here. Most people would agree that criminal checks are appropriate in many fields. What about credit checks? Now, one might need a certain credit score just to get a particular job. Is that OK too? A company In Michigan, Weyco, will not only not hire you but will fire you if you use tobacco even outside the job.

      http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/01/28/eveningnews/main670168.shtml

      And, this is entirely legal. What next, one needs to provide a blood sample so their cholesterol levels can be checked as a condition of employment? Can I be discharged if my body mass index exceeds a certain level?

      My point here is that there might well be logical reasons in Crawford’s case for these “intrusions”. There might not even be anything within the CBA or in MLB’s rule book prohibiting them, But, to blindly accept things like the little intrusions you pointed to is clearly missing the bigger picture. And, Crawford’s circumstances have little to do with it. He has far more protection than the average individual when it comes to his employment.

      • jh0088 - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM

        well said

  11. henryd3rd - Feb 23, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    Can he opt out now?

  12. jh0088 - Feb 23, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    I’m pretty shocked at the level of acceptance people have of having a private investigator following someone around. You think that just because they want to pay him a lot of money it is okay to invade his privacy? Background checks are one thing… those are above board and investigators make appointments with people ahead of time and ask tons of questions. You can find out a ton about a person that way… you talk to friends and family and you even talk to people who HATE the guy.

    But you do NOT follow him around in a windowless white van when he goes to the supermarket or out to dinner with his wife. I bet there are photos of him and possibly audio tape.

    Let’s not forget, Nixon had to resign because he was doing “due diligence” on the Democratic Party.

    Someone posted last time there was an article about this that the MLBPA needs to come out with a statement against this practice and hold teams accountable for invading their employees privacy.

    I’d love to see Crawford use this as a way to get out of his contract as well.

    • indaburg - Feb 23, 2011 at 5:10 PM

      I believe following him off the field without his knowledge crosses the line, and if other teams are doing this, the practice needs to be stopped. In my line of work (healthcare), I am subject to background checks, but nothing as invasive as someone following me after hours. If I found out an employer did that to me, I would look for another employer. This is definitely an invasion of privacy.

  13. jh0088 - Feb 23, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    To all of the commenters who have been saying that this is just business as usual for ball clubs who need to protect their investment I’ll point to Crawford’s reaction to illustrate that this is not normal:

    He’s creeped out.

    He’s been in the league ten years and this creeps him out. That means he’s never heard of this before. That means it isn’t normal for a team to do this. This means the Red Sox are no better than the Boston mob. Crawford should find a way out of his contract with them or he may wind up on the bottom of the Charles, or maybe that would put him at the bottom of the Charles. I dont’ know, but be should be scared.

  14. tbdevilrayfan - Feb 23, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    You ain’t in Kansas any more Dorothy….welcome to Evil Empire II

    There was no way Boston was going to pay a Brother that kind of jack until they were sure he wouldn’t squander it away drugs, women, and phat rims for his Caddy.

    Wait and see what happens when he hits a slump….

  15. bball45 - Feb 23, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    The Red Sox and the Boston/New England fans have separate buckets for black athletes…I read their papers, listen to their sports talks and it is noticeable…they spent all week praising Gonzales, and how they have high expectations for him, meanwhile they are investigating Crawford. I am not surprised at all.

    Theo Epstein did this on purpose. Boston has never paid a black athlete a high contract amount and he needed to get this investigation story out there as a CYA in case things go badly, which they will for Crawford. He should never have selected the Sox, they will never accept him or give him the credit he deserves as a star…the credit will go to Gonzales, Pedroia, Youkilis and the other stiffs on the team. Boston fans expect black athletes to do whatever they do, chalking it up to “natural ability”…Poor Crawford, least the money will be good except he will never be able to enjoy it in peace..

  16. macjacmccoy - Feb 24, 2011 at 4:44 AM

    When I 1st started reading this and Crawfords reaction I thought “Are you serious? Come onman relax. You watch to much tv. they werent following you around everywhere you went or sitting outside your house. You sound like the wierdo” I figured we would here the Sox explanation and it would show how much Crawford was over reacting. Then I read it it started off fine saying”Our scouts just did a real thorough job on background, that’s all.” I thought see thats all, but then “Felt like we got to know him real well, that’s all” no big deal acting like they knew him that well without making contact is a littler stalkerish but ok, but the it got real sketchy ” I told him we got to know him real well and we really respected the decisions he made, even away from the park.” I thought Crawford was just being parnoid and took what Epstein said the wrong way and they were just scouting him, but I was obviously the 1 who was wrong. They were watching him not only on the field but they were following him around at all hours. Seeing him going out, watching what kind of life he lead, seeing when he went to Gym. That is wierd and Crawford has every right to be creeped out. There lucky he didnt find out about this b4 he signed bc something like that could easily turn a guy off. Epstien should have just kept his mouth shut n every1 would have just thought Crawford was the wierdo. Now who knows that could hurt there chances of other free agents coming there bc now they know if there considering going to Boston they are gonna be stalked like Crawford.

  17. thinman61 - Feb 25, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    Some words of clarification from Theo yesterday. Not that this will do anything to keep all y’all from continuing to bash the Sox, if that’s your inclination.

    “We did not hire a private investigator,’’ said the Sox general manager yesterday. “We did not follow Carl away from the park. We would never go that far.

    “We simply had our scouts do a thorough job on his background and makeup, the way we do for all players of interest. I used a poor choice of words during a radio interview, which I regret, and unfortunately that made a story out of a non-story.

    “We told Carl in Houston in November that we had gotten to know him pretty well, and that the more we discovered, the more we liked and respected him. We talked about it again yesterday, and I can assure you that he has no problem whatsoever with the Red Sox or with our approach during free agency.’’

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