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Red Sox exit strategy is deplorable

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  October 12, 2011 08:44 AM

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You're on notice now, Theo.

It's only a matter of time before Epstein's new position with the Chicago Cubs becomes official, and the teeth marks on Larry Lucchino's tongue receive a long-awaited  reprieve. Theo, like pretty much everybody else who has left town under this ownership group will, of course, be thrown under the bus with a merciless back-stabbing that could turn out to be the ugliest.

Nothing can end well in Boston when the Red Sox are concerned, not even for a management team that helped deliver a pair of World Series titles.

The knives and daggers are sharpened and the blame game has reached its apex. The 2011 Red Sox were doomed in part thanks to a pill-popping manager going through a divorce, beer-guzzling, fried chicken, and video game aficionados, bad contracts, and general clubhouse discord.

It all added up to the most pathetic display seen on Yawkey Way since the disgrace that was the 2001 squad.

But at least that team had promise of a new day, with a host of expiring contracts and a healthy Pedro Martinez on tap for the following season. This crew? If indeed Ben Cherington is the next Boston general manager, he has the unenviable task of fixing a talented, but eminently dislikable, drunken, sunken ship.

When Epstein holds his press conference in Chicago, the sight of him preening for the cameras in Chicago, hailed a hero while his former team lay in ruins, is going to cause such a stir in the Red Sox front office, that the bloodletting should take no time at all.

That is, of course, what these Red Sox owners do. No player or executive is able to escape the smear campaign. From Pedro Martinez to Manny Ramirez to Terry Francona, every individual who leaves this club, whether by his own choice or not, has to watch his reputation get dragged through the mud. That seems to be Rule No. 1 in the Lucchino-Werner-Henry exit interview strategy. There are fewer accusations and sordid affairs on an entire season of "Gossip Girl."

The Red Sox have essentially been a soap opera for decades, but now, they're a disaster film, a witch hunt sordid enough to fit the season. If the Red Sox win one more game in September does any of this come out? Maybe not. But the fact of the matter is they didn't, so it's an invalid argument. It was an epic collapse, and it's clear changes need to be swift and drastic.

Even if they did make the postseason though, there was the likelihood that Epstein was gone anyway, and that is going to be one fascinating and bloody departure.

Henry, Lucchino, and Werner will say all the right things publicly about Epstein's decision, but you know it's only a matter of time - like with Francona - before the dirt makes its way into the headlines. Gross. 

It's not just the deplorable culture in the clubhouse that needs to change, but the nature of the entire club. How pathetic that in an attempt to smooth things over with the millionaire players following the Hurricane Irene situation that the owners thought it would be a good idea to buy them $300 headphones. As one fan tweeted, "There's a sweet irony of giving them something they'd use to shut everything out."


Everything is about sell and spin, and when that fails, it's time for the leaks to begin. It would be silly of Francona to think he could escape unscathed. It would be downright foolish for Epstein to think the same isn't coming his way.

Everyone is to blame; the players, management, and yes, the owners who now feel the need to smear the prospects of a manager, who, oh, by the way, happens to be looking for a job. We'll have to wait and see whether or not their details about 2011 put a puncture into Francona's managerial hopes for next season and beyond. But hey, what do they worry? With these guys it's not about what have you done for me, but how you look doing it.

The actions of the players were deplorable, but it's time for Red Sox ownership to look in the mirror and finally determine how it wants to be perceived moving forward. The fans aren't stupid, and they have been treated as such for far too long now. 

Be ready, Theo. Your time in the back-stabbing spotlight is nigh. 

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.


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