Olney: Growing discontent in clubhouse

April, 8, 2012
Buster Olney weighs in on the Red Sox's rocky start in his blog this morning -- click HERE for Olney's complete blog entry (Insider content).

Olney suggests that rationality regarding the team went out the window last September but a growing discontent in the clubhouse is a major concern and can only be corrected by the players themselves.
The Boston Red Sox have played only two games, a rational person might say -- two of 162. A little perspective is needed, a rational person might say. There is no reason to overreact over a couple of road losses to a pretty good team, the Detroit Tigers.

But keep in mind that rationality and perspective began evaporating in Boston on Sept. 1, 2011. Since that day, the Red Sox have lost 22 of the 29 games they have played. Since that day, the whole place has gone nutty.

You want rational? Club ownership shoved out Terry Francona, a manager who had led the team to two championships in eight years. They embraced Theo Epstein's exit from the organization, rather than just saying no, which they always had the right to do.

You want rational? Somebody in the organization decided to smear Francona's name after he departed. Clubhouse sources leaked information about teammates eating chicken and beer during games, leaving some players to angrily speculate about the identity of the mole, and whether it's one of the other guys on the field.

Bobby Valentine was hired to manage a group of players fractured by last fall's events, and true to form, he has been outspoken and direct. But the splinters in the clubhouse festered long before the start of spring training.

You want rational? Well, forget it. If the Red Sox lose some more in the days ahead and a full-blown overreaction overruns the media coverage and fans, well, it's been earned.

The Red Sox don't look good. They have major questions about their bullpen and defense. They aren't singing "Kumbaya" together, and won't be until their internal issues are fully resolved. Compared to the clubhouse harmony that thrives with the St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals and other teams, the Red Sox's clubhouse feels like a place of solitary confinement.

But here's the thing: The Red Sox have to solve it themselves.

Yes, Andrew Bailey might be back for the final weeks of the season, and Carl Crawford could be back by the end of the month. But they aren't trading for Joel Hanrahan anytime soon; Mahatma Gandhi isn't walking through the door to promote internal peace.

There is a building tide of discontent swirling in Boston over this team, and it will crash on them quickly unless there is rapid change. Valentine really doesn't have the power to make that happen. Only the Red Sox players can.



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