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Confusion reigns as Red Sox can't get their stories straight

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff  August 24, 2012 09:12 AM

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The real problem with the Red Sox is that they always seem to make things worse, let them fester, fail to even get their story straight. And so they end up digging themselves deeper and deeper when you think they cannot possibly sink any lower, and there is seemingly no one there to stop the nosedive.

Let's use Johnny Pesky's funeral as an example.

On Friday of last week, the Red Sox sent out the specifics for Pesky's funeral arrangements, emailing multiple members of the media (including yours truly) with scheduled events over the weekend and on Monday. Since that time, Clay Buchholz has told us that the Red Sox did not learn about the details until returning home from New York early Monday morning, all as David Ortiz claimed (according to a WEEI.com report) that he encouraged teammates to attend on the flight home from New York.

So which was it? Did the Sox find out late last week, like the rest of us? On the flight home? Or when they got back to Fenway Park?

As has been the case for much of the past year, confusion continues to reign at 4 Yawkey Way, where the Red Sox have become a clown car.

If John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino are truly upset about this, as the Boston Herald has reported, they certainly have every right to be. Red Sox officials love to talk out of both sides of their mouths -- off the record, someone complained to the Inside Track, but on the record, Lucchino defended his players -- but this was an insult to them as much as anyone else. JohnTomAndLarry clearly would have liked a stronger showing from their clubhouse for the Pesky funeral services, and they got four of 25 active players to show up. (Ortiz, Buchholz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Vicente Padilla, of all people, were the ones who made it.) We're willing to bet than more than four showed up last season when Henry invited Sox players onto his yacht (and gave them headphones) after Sox players griped about the schedule, and we know with certainty that more than four were present for Josh Beckett's charity event on Monday night.

But then, doesn't that all provide a perfect portrayal for this individualistic, selfish group? Sox players will make the effort when they get something out of it, be it a good time (and free drinks?) or noise reduction. But as soon as any one of them has to make a small sacrifice for someone else, forget it.

JohnTomAndLarry should be offended by this. They should be downright apoplectic. We can only hope the Sox are now truly committed to cleaning things up this offseason, as Lucchino suggested late Thursday, though they should have done it last fall.

Your players are now spitting in your face, JohnTomAndLarry. And they're continuing to cash your checks.

At the moment, the player with the highest salary on the Boston roster is first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who counts for $22 million against the Red Sox' luxury tax payroll despite fewer home runs (15) than Trevor Plouffe. Gonzalez reportedly was placed on trade waivers earlier this week and the Red Sox would be foolish to let him go on a straight salary dump -- that is, if someone claims him -- but one can only wonder if that is what Gonzalez would prefer.

"In Boston, there is always a novel. In here they never talk about baseball -- it's always the same," Gonzalez told ESPNdeportesLosAngeles.com. "That's one of the reasons why I almost never talk to the press here. Very few times they ask me about baseball. But most of the time it's about gossip, rumors, plots, well ... a soap opera."

This is the same Gonzalez, of course, who complained about Sunday night games last year, apparently unaware that Sunday night games come with the territory when you play on a big market team with World Series aspirations. But then, Gonzalez has never been on a team that has won anything during his major league career, so maybe he is content with just being the next Rafael Palmeiro.

Palmeiro, after all, was also regarded as something of an AG. Attorney General. Clubhouse lawyer.

Does anybody on this team do the right thing anymore? Even Dustin Pedroia seems to have been dragged down by this lot. When Pedroia took sides with Kevin Youkilis earlier in the season and undermined Bobby Valentine, some people tried (and still are) to paint that as leadership. In fact, what Pedroia was doing was following the pack instead of challenging his teammates to accept their new manager, and his decision further undercut any chance the Red Sox had of being a team.

The team, after all, is not just about the 25 men on the active roster. It's about the manager and coaches, the executives, the owners, and grounds crew. The Red Sox have been so fragmented on so many levels that they effectively have been in a state of civil war for a year. First it was the pitchers vs. the hitters. Then it was the players vs. the owners. Then it was the players vs. the manager. Then it was the manager vs. the coaches.

And, yes, there are apparently digital images as proof, something which the Red Sox still have yet to deny.

Here's a scary thought: In the coming weeks and months, there is every chance that this will actually get worse. Valentine bristled on Thursday when asked a routine question about his pitching rotation, reacting like a man who knows he has no control. If and when the Red Sox truly make major changes, there is likely to be all kinds of fallout, as there was when the Sox cut ties with Terry Francona last fall.

This time, maybe the Sox can get their stories straight.

But at this stage, that seems very doubtful.

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Updated: Mar 1, 07:24 AM

About Mazz

Tony Massarotti is a Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. A lifelong Bostonian, Massarotti graduated from Waltham High School and Tufts University. He was voted the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by his peers in 2000 and 2008 and has been a finalist for the award on several other occasions. This blog won a 2008 EPpy award for "Best Sports Blog".

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