Buchholz: Collapse 'most unbelievable thing' he's seen

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Buchholz: Collapse 'most unbelievable thing' he's seen

Count Clay Buchholz among those Red Sox who have apologized for drinking in the clubhouse but think the story is being blown out of proportion.

Buchholz joined the Mut and Merloni program on WEEI Thursday to discuss his team's September collapse, as well as the not-so-complimentary reports now surfacing about him and his teammates.

"Yeah, it did happen," said Buchholz about the drinking in the clubhouse. "It wasn't to the extent that it's being told right now. The whole chicken thing, it wasn't like the guys were sitting in there saying 'We're going to order chicken today.' It was, we'd come upstairs, there would be chicken on the table and it happened maybe three times this season. The whole beer thing, it was more of a rally-beer thing.

"And yeah, it might not have been right, but I feel like there have been other teams in baseball that have gone through stuff like that. Not to say it wasn't a big deal, because it was a mistake, grown men shouldn't be making those decisions like that during a baseball game, but like I said before, you've got to live with what you've done and learn from it. I'm sure it's not going to happen again because it's a lot bigger right now than everybody ever thought it would be."

When asked if he had ever seen beer in the dugout, Buchholz responded, "No. Never. Never."

Buchholz called the team's collapse "the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen." In fact, he's still not quite sure how it happened. He said the entire team expected to just show up and win every night.

"I just think the big problem this year was everybody on the team knew how good we were on paper, the best in baseball in the last 10 years or whatever," Buchholz said. "Even me, in September I'd say 'My God, how are we losing these games?' We expected to go out on the field and win. It wasn't happening and no one knew what to do."

"Shock" was the word Buchholz used to describe how it felt to see Terry Francona go, and he hopes there aren't too many changes to the team's pitching staff next season. He praised Josh Beckett, a player he looks up to, as being the team's best pitcher.

"If anything, I think Josh Beckett was different in a good way this year," Buchholz said. "He's one of the guys that I've always looked up to regardless of the situation was, he's got that killer mentality of going out and winning a game . . . He's one of the hardest workers. I mean, I'm not saying this because he's my teammate and I'm trying to cover anybody's butt, but he was in the clubhouse everyday early, got his work done, ran and did all his stuff. He was the best pitcher on our team this year. I didn't see anything different from Beckett."

But what about Beckett's visible weight-gain, Clay?

"Gaining weight is gaining weight," Buchholz said. "You still have to go out there and perform. That's just the way it is. If this game were easy, there would be more than 750 guys out there doing it. He still went out there and did his job, gave us a chance to win a game every time he went out there. That's all you can ask for from a starting pitcher."

Buchholz also said he thinks John Lackey can turn things around after his poor season.

"I hope he's back," Buchholz said. "I think he's gonna turn it around. I think he was pitching with a lot of stuff. He was hurting a bit, there was some stuff internally with him and everybody else."

The pitching staff's demise was seen by many as the team's reason for falling apart, but now, even though pitching coach Curt Young is rumored to be headed back to Oakland, Buchholz wouldn't throw Young under the bus. He did intimate that it was a much different environment with Young around compared to when John Farrell was in Boston as the pitching coach.

"It was a different personality," Buchholz said of Young. "Curt's a really laid back guy. I have nothing bad to say about Curt. He talked to me about whatever I needed to talk about. Curt is laid back. John, with John it was, I don't wanna talk to him unless I have to because I'm scared of him.

"John was more of an intense guy, a straight shooter," Buchholz added. "I dont think anybody took advantage of Young. They were two different coaches. Hard to compare guys that are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum . . . Everyone knew what their job was as starters. no one was gonna go out there and say 'Wow, I'm not gonna win this game.' Everybody knows what their job is, one person coming in isn't going to make you change how you're doing your job."

Despite the reports and despite the perceived disconnect in the Red Sox clubhouse, Buchholz thinks the Red Sox will be fine when they return for spring training in 2012.

"On paper this team is really good," he said. "We just gotta get our priorities right and move forward. This is one of the best teams in baseball regardless of what happens . . . Everyone's going to come into camp a little bit more ready to do what we need to do."

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

IRVING, Texas -- Baseball players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a five-year labor contract Wednesday night, a deal that will extend the sport's industrial peace to 26 years since the ruinous fights in the first two decades of free agency.

After days of near round-the-clock talks, negotiators reached a verbal agreement about 3 1/2 hours before the expiration of the current pact. Then they worked to draft a memorandum of understanding, which must be ratified by both sides.

"It's great! Another five years of uninterrupted baseball," Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said in a text message.

In announcing the agreement, Major League Baseball and the players' association said they will make specific terms available when drafting is complete.

"Happy it's done, and baseball is back on," Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy said.

As part of the deal, the experiment of having the All-Star Game determine which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series will end after 14 years, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.

Instead, the pennant winner with the better regular-season record will open the Series at home.

Another important change: The minimum time for a stint on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

The luxury tax threshold rises from $189 million to $195 million next year, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021.

Tax rates increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent for first offenders, remain at 30 percent for second offenders and rise from 40 percent to 50 percent for third offenders. There is a new surtax of 12 percent for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold, 42.5 percent for first offenders more than $40 million above the threshold and 45 percent for subsequent offenders more than $40 million above.

Union head Tony Clark, presiding over a negotiation for the first time, said in a statement the deal "will benefit all involved in the game and leaves the game better for those who follow."

Key changes involve the qualifying offers clubs can make to their former players after they become free agents - the figure was $17.2 million this year. If a player turns down the offer and signs elsewhere, his new team forfeits an amateur draft pick, which usually had been in the first round under the old deal.

Under the new rules, a player can receive a qualifying offer only once in his career and will have 10 days to consider it instead of seven. A club signing a player who declined a qualifying offer would lose its third-highest amateur draft pick if it is a revenue-sharing receiver, its second- and fifth-highest picks (plus a loss of $1 million in its international draft pool) if it pays luxury tax for the just-ended season, and its second-highest pick (plus $500,000 in the international draft pool) if it is any other team.

A club losing a free agent who passed up a qualifying offer would receive an extra selection after the first round of the next draft if the player signed a contract for $50 million or more and after competitive balance round B if under $50 million. However, if that team pays luxury tax, the extra draft pick would drop to after the fourth round.

Among other details:

-For a team $40 million or more in excess of the luxury tax threshold, its highest selection in the next amateur draft will drop 10 places.

-While management failed to obtain an international draft of amateurs residing outside the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, it did get a hard cap on each team's annual bonus pool for those players starting at $4.75 million for the signing period that begins next July 2.

-There is no change to limits on active rosters, which remain at 25 for most of the season and 40 from Sept. 1 on.

-Smokeless tobacco will be banned for all new players, those who currently do not have at least one day of major league service.

-The regular season will expand from 183 days to 187 starting in 2018, creating four more scheduled off days. There are additional limitations on the start times of night games on getaway days.

-The minimum salary rises from $507,500 to $535,000 next year, $545,000 in 2018 and $555,000 in 2019, with cost-of-living increases the following two years; the minor league minimum for a player appearing on the 40-man roster for at least the second time goes up from $82,700 to $86,500 next year, $88,000 in 2018 and $89,500 in 2019, followed by cost-of-living raises.

-The drop-off in slot values in the first round of the amateur draft will be lessened.

-Oakland's revenue-sharing funds will be cut to 75 percent next year, 50 percent in 2018, 25 percent in 2019 and then phased out.

-As part of the drug agreement, there will be increased testing, players will not be credited with major league service time during suspensions, and biomarker testing for HGH will begin next year.

Negotiators met through most of Tuesday night in an effort to increase momentum in the talks, which began during spring training. This is the third straight time the sides reached a new agreement before the old contract expired, but a deal was struck eight weeks in advance in 2006 and three weeks ahead of expiration in 2011.

Talks took place at a hotel outside Dallas where the players' association held its annual executive board meeting.

Clark, the first former player to serve as executive director of the union, and others set up in a meeting room within earshot of a children's choir practicing Christmas carols. A man dressed as Santa Claus waited nearby.

Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the last a 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95 that led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years. The 2002 agreement was reached after players authorized a strike and about 3 1/2 hours before the first game that would have been impacted by a walkout.

The peace in baseball is in contrast to the recent labor histories of other major sports. The NFL had a preseason lockout in 2011, the NBA lost 240 games to a lockout that same year and the NHL lost 510 games to a lockout in 2012-13.