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Curt Schilling has a good point about that big Red Sox story

Oct 12, 2011, 2:00 PM EDT

Schilling

There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere and Twitterverse today about that Boston Globe story in which anonymous Red Sox sources basically tear Terry Francona, Theo Epstein and multiple Sox players a new one. Whether its use of anonymous sources was the right thing to do. Whether it had actual value or if it’s just angry venting. Whether this signifies something meaningful for the organization or if it’s just the bad old ways of the Boston Red Sox reasserting themselves.

There’s a little truth to all of that. My view, though, is that the Globe should apologize to no one for reporting what it reported.  They have sources, the sources say stuff, most of it is both interesting and potentially relevant and, as far as we can tell anyway, the factual assertions are all true.*

I think the Globe’s only error in reporting it was that the tone of the piece. It was all Serious Business Facing the Nation when, in reality, it’s a lot of backbiting and gossip. And I don’t mean that as a bad thing from the Globe’s perspective. I don’t like the fact that “gossip” has a pejorative connotation to it.  Gossip is interesting and fun and often revealing. Sports isn’t international diplomacy. A lot of what we talk about is gossip, and I think there’s nothing wrong with that, even if it’s anonymously sourced (that’s when you get the best gossip!). A little more humor and lightness and I would have enjoyed the story more, but that’s a mere quibble.

I am not so charitable to the Globe’s sources, however.  I don’t know what people in the Red Sox organization thought they’d accomplish with all of this. Airing the kind of dirty laundry they air is great for us as readers and fans, but it’s a pretty low rent thing to do for the organization. And for one of its main subjects — Terry Francona — who has a lot of crap flung at him by these people for no apparent reason. I get the stuff about him losing control of the clubhouse being germane, but whoever decided to get into his marriage and his alleged use of painkillers isn’t doing much to impress me.

Indeed, I never thought I’d agree with Curt Schilling about, well, anything, but he makes a pretty good point** about that kind of dirt coming from Yawkey Way:

Imply that an outgoing manager has a drug problem after decision to leave and likely looking for work. Stay classy, ownership.

Seriously. The guy is gone. Let him go and keep that kind of stuff to yourself. What possible good are you accomplishing with airing that kind of dirty laundry?

*Not saying the substance of all of the the insider’s claims are accurate about all topics on which they opine. For example, just because someone inside said that Francona had a prescription drug problem doesn’t mean he has one.  We have no idea of that and, it should be noted, Francona denied it. But someone is actually saying those things and in this context that itself is newsworthy, because it speaks to the organization too that they’d even say this kind of thing.

**He added a “from Sons of Sam Horn” at the end of that, which may mean that Schilling is merely repeating the sentiment. But good for him for giving it his platform.

  1. zakharovsa - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    Anyone see Heyman’s tweet about this article?

    Jon Heyman
    i have no problem with francona’s personal issues coming out. it’s the big leagues. that said, a lot of folks have marital/pill issues

    When there’s any evidence beyond an anonymous backbiting quote that he had “pill issues,” then you can rip him for it. What a jackass.

    • Kyle - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:21 PM

      Uggghhh. That guy.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:32 PM

      Is there any reason to follow Lord HeeHaw on twitter? I wish I could block his name from ever getting retweeted.

      • zakharovsa - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:44 PM

        He sometimes breaks news.

      • marshmallowsnake - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:55 PM

        I think if you block him, you will not see his tweets or re-tweets, but I could be wrong.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 12, 2011 at 3:24 PM

        Thanks, I don’t follow him, but certain individuals like to retweet his comments =\

  2. APBA Guy - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Talk about the curse of high expectations. The Red Sox as an organization are getting more and more like the Yankees every day.

    Michael Lewis should write a book about them that gets made into a movie, starring Donald Pleasance as Tito (the resemblance is uncanny).

    • bblair917 - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:28 PM

      They are nothing like the Yankees as an organization. You have no idea what you’re talking about. Last year, when Dave Eiland left for a few weeks for personal issues, nothing was leaked about why. In fact I don’t think anything has ever come out. When he was let go at the end of the year, nothing. The Yankees clubhouse is run and policed by the team, not the journalists or ownership.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:34 PM

        [cant believe i'm going to defend the sox here but]

        From what I can remember it’s the press + old management that was notorious for this. Now management has changed and it’s far less egregious than what used to occur. A lot of this stuff coming out is the players themselves.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:32 PM

      Yeah, when Posada was pissed about batting ninth, they didn’t hold a midgame press conference to badmouth one of their longest tenured players. Classy!

    • Glenn - Oct 12, 2011 at 6:49 PM

      I have been amazed by the resemblance of Francona to “Blofeld” since I was first aware of him, but no one seems to mention it.

  3. xpensivewinos - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Looks like Francona was right about not having the full support of ownership. People in glass houses……

    Funny how things work out. Ownership didn’t want Francona any more and they’re letting Epstein go as well. The Red Sox win one more game and Francona’s option has to get picked up and Theo’s probably as well.

    Now, it’s a bitter, ugly divorce. Think anyone is fighting over custody of Lackey?

    • fanoredsox - Oct 12, 2011 at 5:25 PM

      Hey! Easy on Lackey! We all all have the right to divorce and abandon our cancer stricken spouses!

      • fanoredsox - Oct 12, 2011 at 5:42 PM

        I am embarrassed to be a SAUWX Fan right now. Does anyone have have any fried chicken and beer?

  4. SmackSaw - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    How long before Theo starts trading for “his guys”?

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    Repeating allegations that have been disproven, then only parenthetically mentioning that they have been disproven, seems salacious at best and libelous at worst. If the pain-pill info came from anyone on the Sox medical staff, I would hope they are relieved of both their job and their license, since the prescribed use of medicines should be considered private information.

    Saying pitchers drink beer and play video games is one thing, but blaming the team problems on the managers drug addition when it is clear that was NOT the issue crosses a line.

  6. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:35 PM

    Airing the kind of dirty laundry they air is great for us as readers and fans, but it’s a pretty low rent thing to do for the organization

    Yeah, you should keep it quiet and then write a book about it. Then later you can join the MLB organization itself.

    -Joe Torre

  7. Brian Donohue - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    Fast women, slower horses
    Unreliable sources…
    — Tom Waits, “Jitterbug Boy”

    Journalism 101: sources are given anonymity when exposing them could cause personal or professional harm to said sources. Anonymity is not to be used as a tool for self-aggrandizement or career advancement, and fact-checking is NOT optional merely because the source is to be anon.

    That point made, it’s the single most violated principle of journalism in the media today. Take a look through today’s newspaper and count the stories — all of them, politics, world affairs, Washington, all the way through the gossip and sports pages — that are based on anon sources. If it’s 60% or less, that’s a good day for journalistic ethics. It’s usually more.

  8. sandpiperair - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    The Red Sox have been doing this for years. As soon as somebody leaves, especially fan favorites, stories begin to surface about how bad the person really was. It’s a weak attempt to placate the fan base. The first time I saw this was with Nomar in 2004, and it undoubtedly started when this ownership group came in just prior.

    • fieldingmellish - Oct 12, 2011 at 3:04 PM

      Oh, I think it started long before this ownership group came. At least I remember Dan Duquette slamming Clemens on his way out of town. Wade Boggs’ departure was fairly acrimonious. Ownership pushed Carlton Fisk and Cecil Cooper out in the 70s. It’s not new, and it’s not unique to the Red Sox (though they do it as well as anyone).

      I’m sure if you go back far enough, you’ll find stories quoting anonymous sources that Tris Speaker was a drunk or Carl Mays was hitting the laudanum too hard when they left too.

      • sandpiperair - Oct 12, 2011 at 3:07 PM

        Yeah, but those were pretty straightforward– I’m talking about the stories that suddenly surface as soon as the trade has been made, or the player not re-signed. It’s never in the form of a direct quote from the owners or Theo.

  9. scareduck - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    As an aside — I must say that Hardball Talk is a great daily read. I follow on Twitter and get more out of it than almost anything else.

  10. seeingwhatsticks - Oct 12, 2011 at 5:44 PM

    Basically what this all means is that the Red Sox need Sam Seaborn:

    • Gamera the Brave - Oct 13, 2011 at 12:00 AM

      Damn, I forget how good that show was.
      Thanks, ‘sticks.

  11. bigleagues - Oct 13, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    A couple of weeks ago, when I said Boston media is toxic for fan to listen to, this is exactly the kind of low brow BS I was referring to.

    Hohler’s column was then used as a matter-of-fact reference by Boston.com blogger Eric Wilbur when he wrote:

    “The 2011 Red Sox were doomed in part thanks to a pill-popping manager going through a divorce . . .”

    http://www.boston.com/sports/columnists/wilbur/2011/10/red_sox_exit_st.html

    Deplorable on Wilbur’s part to say the least.

    And today we have Peter Abraham whipping up every excuse he can surmise (which is very few) over why trading Beckett is a mistake – even as caller after caller to Mutt and Merloni on WEEI today were emphatic that Beckett MUST go.

    http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/extras/extra_bases/

    Abraham goes on to the lay the blame of Beckett’s behavior as inspired and led by Lackey. The latter part of that isn’t hard to believe, yet just yesterday Abraham reported that Beckett’s clubhouse retreats are nothing new as Jack McKeon had “literally chase BecketT out of the clubhouse with a bat”.

    http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2011/10/13/becketts_behavior_not_new/

    Boston media has become as random in its opinions and pronouncements as the direction of the wind. There is an overabundance of writers and bloggers because the name of the game is to write every possible opinion and scenario – no matter how misleading or incorrect – in an effort to identify with as many readers and attract as many website hits as possible.

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