Jon Lester stepped up to the plate yesterday, but did he swing and miss?
Ask and you shall receive I guess. Last Friday I wrote that the Owners silence on all things September was both damning and deafening. A few hours later John Henry held court on the Felger and Mazz Show and helped clear a lot of doubt the Faithful had in him. Then yesterday I wrote the below:
"It'd be nice to see one of our multi-million dollar pitchers step up and take some blame or ownership for the collapse. Eye's have certainly shifted directly towards them now...we'll see if there's a real leader amongst the Three Amigos, but I'm not holding my breath."
Low and behold, a few hours later, there's a Peter Abraham piece in the Globe with Jon Lester breaking the silence and admitting to some of the claims that have been floating about in the media - most notably, that Starting Pitchers were indeed drinking beer and eating chicken in the Clubhouse during games. I applaud Lester for finally stepping up, however, I have to say the whole thing seemed a bit empty to me, and some of what he said was downright shocking.
Maybe this is a damned if he does, damned if he doesn't scenario - and I'm glad Lester wasn't just giving rote pre-packaged answers, but he seemed to skirt any real responsibility, while also throwing people who genuinely cared for him under the bus.
“Was it a bad habit? Yes. I should have been on the bench more than I was. But we just played bad baseball as a team in September. We stunk. To be honest, we were doing the same things all season when we had the best record in baseball.’’
So in the span of a few sentences Lester's admitting he did wrong, but is also acting like if they didn't suck in September it wouldn't have become an issue. Sure, that very well may be the case, but it doesn't f^(%ing matter. What they were doing was wrong - period. If I had a few nips before work starting say, tomorrow - I bet you I could perform to my expected level for quite awhile. However, seven months later (March to September) that may end up being a different case. I may not be having only one nip anymore. I may be starting to show up late. I may be letting myself go physically. I may not be eating as healthy. And through it all, it seems pretty reasonable to expect my performance to start to slip. I believe this is exactly what happened to the Three Amigos. All Lester had to say is I got into some bad habits, didn't help create a positive attitude towards winning, and it won't happen again. But no - he skirts any real responsibility, and it pretty disappointing.
I never saw guys purposely breaking rules or doing the wrong thing in front of him (Francona) and rubbing it in his face. But this particular team probably needed more structure. Tito was the perfect guy for this team for a long time but I think he got burnt out.
This is the most reprehensible thing Lester said in his interview. The translation of this is, 'Tito treated us like men, we acted like children'. I always thought Francona had a special relationship with Lester after his Cancer scare, he seemed more proud of Jon than any other pitcher, and for Lester then to say things like this is out right sickening. This obviously shows Tito had to go, the clubhouse was beyond lost, and there's some deep seeded issues in this clubhouse that are going to linger into next Season. Francona could have called out a hell of a lot of players on his way out, but he didn't - then Lester does this. It's disgusting.
Where John Henry helped mend tension with his open and honest interview, Lester seemed to have dug his hole deeper. These pitchers are coming off worse and worse the more we learn. Mike Giardi has a telling article over at Comcast SportsNet, and it refutes a lot of what Lester had to say. The most damning statement comes from a player, who is again unnamed - a problem that's reoccurring this off-season, and he had this to say about how Lester and the other Amigos treated Tito:
"It was the guys who should know better, the guys who have been here and often benefited from Tito's softer hand. I mean, how many times [did] Tito defend you to the press or stick by you, and this is how [you] repay him? It's bullshit."
I can't agree any more, it is bullshit - and it's going to be bullshit for quite awhile - as Winter looms and questions linger.