Do the Red Sox need to apologize?

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Do the Red Sox need to apologize?

Pitcher and catchers report to Ft. Myers on Sunday, marking the unofficial start to the 2012 Red Sox season. But, five months after the fact, it seems a lot of people in this city aren't ready to say goodbye to 2011.

Yesterday on the radio, Tony Massarotti screamed about the need for Red Sox players to still address and take responsibility for what happened in September: "My gripe is with the players, and players exclusively at this point, he said. I dont feel like the players have faced the music. This is not about Lucchino or Henry or Cherington or anyone who is gone. It is soley, 100 about the players on the field. That is what this is about now for me.

Later in the show, one of Felger and Mazz's callers added: "We should keep the pedal on the metal and not let these guys even think about 2012 until they answer the leftover questions from 2011!"

And he wasn't alone. Over the course their four hours on the air, an unbelievable number of people called in to say that "the Red Sox", or "these players" or "those guys" need to be held accountable for their actions down the stretch. That this team is a disgrace and shouldn't be forgiven until they accept responsibility for everything that happened!

I disagree, and offer the following question:

Which Red Sox still need to apologize?

Who still hasn't "faced the music"?

Is it Jacoby Ellsbury?

He hit .358 in September, and led the majors with eight homers. He has nothing to apologize for.

Carl Crawford?

I'd say Carl needs to apologize for the entire season, except he already did.

Dustin Pedroia?

Obviously not. Pedroia hit .304 in September. He hit four homers knocked in 19 runs and scored 18 of his own. Outside of July, September was Pedroias most dominant month.
McAdam: Sox must address 2011 before starting 2012

For another indicator of how hard he was trying: Between April and August, Pedroia averaged 104 at-bats and 16 walks a month. In September, he had 112 at-bats and six walks. Pedey wasn't sitting back and letting the season slip away, he was out there trying to make things happen. Was he trying too hard? Maybe, but considering all that was going on around him, it's understandable.

David Ortiz?

Ortiz hit .287 with one homer, and eight RBI in September, which was ugly. Even uglier compared to his August output of .411 with eight homers and 20 RBI.

Yeah, he could have been better. And yeah, maybe if he was a little less concerned with RBI and contracts and whatever else had his stirrups in a bunch, Ortiz could have been a more unifying force behind the scenes. But so could have everyone, and at least he spoke to the media after. He didn't have the most glowing words about the season or the Sox in general, but at least he addressed the drama:

"We had that when we won the World Series in 2004," he said. "We had that when we won the World Series in 2007. Beer in the clubhouse, it's always been there. Video games, that's always been there; guys eating fried chicken, that's always been there."

So there you go. Maybe not the "Oh my God, I'm so sorry. Can you guys ever forgive me?" apology everyone was looking for. But then again, from what we know, Ortiz wasn't the one of the main culprits. Still, he faced the music and stated his case. Even if you don't respect Ortiz the same way you did in 2003 and 2004 or even 2007, is he really worthy of all that anger?

What about Kevin Youkilis?

Youk appeared in only 10 games in managed only 36 at bats in September. Maybe he wasnt the most popular guy in the clubhouse, but has he ever been? Plus, I think we should take it easy on Kevin. It's already been a rough month for the Brady family.

Clay Buchholz?

He didn't even pitch.

Daniel Bard?

He didn't pitch either!

OK, he did. But his case breeds more sadness than anger. The kid choked down the stretch, and can hopefully find comfort in his new role in the rotation.

Adrian Gonzalez?

Certainly September wasn't Gonzalez's best month, as he played through a calf injury of which we still don't really know the severity. But unless you expect him to apologize for loving God, Im not sure what he has to say.

One knock on Gonzalez is that he was a little too complacent down the stretch. He drew 21 walks in September, compared to seven walks in May (when he was tearing up the league) and an average of 10.6 walks over the first five months. On one hand, maybe teams were pitching around him. The guy spent most of the month hitting in front of a struggling David Ortiz, and over the last six games of the season, Gonzalez hit in front of Mike Aviles, Conor Jackson, Jed Lowrie, Jed Lowrie, Ryan Lavarnway and Ryan Lavarnway, respectively. Still, you would have loved to see Gonzalez press a little harder, and I guess that gets back to a bigger problem.

Gonzalez approaches baseball with a mentality that not everyone can relate to. The fact that he would prepare for a game in the midst of the pennant race with the same aggression and intensity that he does a Thursday afternoon in May is confusing and frustrating, and will never sit well in Boston. But on the list of problems in the Sox clubhouse, Adrian Gonzalez's lack of intensity is hardly worth losing sleep over. The guy hit .338! And while he didn't exactly excel in some of the bigger games, I don't think his faith, and "Nothing I do matters, it's all up to God" mentality means that he can't come through when it matters most. After all:

It doesnt matter if I hit a home run. It doesnt matter if we win a game. It doesnt matter if I go four for four. Whatever happens at the end of the day, as long as I glorify His name, thats what its all about. Albert Pujols

Jon Lester?

Lester was 1-3 over six September starts, and boasted a 5.40 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. He was awful. But on October 18, he called around to numerous media outlets (must have lost my number) and set the record straight.

"You know what? We didn't play good baseball," he said. "People are making us out to be a bunch of drunk, fried-chicken eating SOBs, playing video games. You can ask my wife, for the last 10 years I don't think I've played a single video game, and Josh (Beckett) and Lack (John Lackey) are the same way. But one person writes an article, and things have gotten blown way out of proportion, almost to another planet. We're getting crushed."

Again, maybe he wasn't as apologetic as everyone would have liked, but come on. Do we really even know what happened? Do we know how much Lester was actually involved? Sure, maybe he wasn't as focused as he needed to be, and he definitely wasn't as effective, but how many details does anyone know after that?

Lester stood up and answered questions, faced the music and admitted that the Sox didn't play well enough. Given his track record, isn't that enough?

OK so who's left who else from last year's team could anyone possibly still want to speak up and take responsibility for his role in the collapse

Oh, right. Josh Beckett. And honestly, I can't argue with that.

While the rest of his teammates have, for the most part, gone out of their way to stand up and address what happened, it's almost like Beckett has taken pride in avoiding it. And considering that he's one of the perceived ring leaders, it makes the situation that much worse. But here's the thing with Beckett he clearly doesn't care.

If he was really sorry for anything that happened, he would have come out and said it already. It wouldn't have been that hard for him to get out some sort of apologetic message. But he didn't do it, and again, that's because he doesn't care. So tell me: Is a fake apology from Josh Beckett really going to make anyone feel that much better?

Is that really the deciding factor in whether or not your willing to move on from last year's disaster and look forward to 2012?

I'm not saying that Beckett should be forgiven. I'm not saying you have to think he's a great person. After all, have you ever really liked the person Josh Beckett is off the field?

Even when he was winning 20 games and a World Series, did you ever think to yourself: "Wow, that Beckett, he's a great guy!" No way. And you shouldn't this year either. But let's say it's June, and Beckett's sitting with a 7-2 record and 2.23 ERA. Will you still care so much about September. Will the rallying cry be: "He still hasn't owned up to last year BOO THIS MAN!"

I don't think so. It will be the same as always, meaning that everyone will overlook the fact that Beckett is kind of a jerk, and just appreciate him for the dominant pitcher that he can be.

And if you don't think that will be the case this year. If, in your mind, Beckett was so deplorable that you'll never root for him or respect him again, then I ask you again: What is a fake apology going to do?? How does this make you feel better?

It doesn't and it won't.

So let's just move on.

I'm not saying we should forget what happened last year. I'm not saying that we should unconditionally love every guy in that clubhouse, because frankly, this isn't the most likable team. I just don't understand what good it does to keep harping on last year when at the end of the day, there's nothing you, me, Josh Beckett or Tony Massarotti can do to change what happened.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Avery Bradley hopes to take next step on D: Defensive Player of the Year

Avery Bradley hopes to take next step on D: Defensive Player of the Year

WALTHAM, Mass. – Prior to Friday night’s Green and White Scrimmage, Celtics coach Brad Stevens made a point of having Avery Bradley honored for being named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team.
 
It was a good feeling and an award that Bradley is extremely proud of accomplishing.
 
But he wants more.
 
First-team All-Defense is nice.
 
Defensive Player of the Year?
 
Even better.
 
Prior to Saturday’s practice, Bradley’s case for being in contention for such a lofty award stems from him consistently being among the better perimeter defenders in the NBA.
 
On most game nights, Bradley is usually assigned whichever guard is the more potent scorer.
 
And in that role, Bradley has been able to establish himself as one of the toughest matchups players will face from a defender, all season.

But as good as Bradley may be as an individual defender, he knows any praise or accolades for what he does has to come with the knowledge that his teammates have also elevated their play defensively, too.
 
“Like I said, it’s hand-in-hand with how you play as an individual and your team success,” Bradley said. “How far we can go this year, hopefully I can show and the rest of my teammates can show how good we are on defense.”
 
One of the reasons Bradley was able to garner enough votes to be named to the league’s First-team defense, is due to the ringing endorsements he received from various players throughout the league.
 
Two of Bradley’s biggest supporters are Portland’s explosive backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

After Boston’s 116-109 loss at Portland on March 31, McCollum tweeted out that Avery Bradley was “the best perimeter defender in the league” and added, “I don’t think it’s close.”
 
In Boston’s loss to Portland, Lillard had 14 points on 3-for-16 shooting while McCollum had 17 points on 8-for-19 shooting.
 
“Hopefully the entire NBA can believe that I’m one of the best defenders,” Bradley said.
 
 

Young one of the 'tough decisions' facing Celtics

Young one of the 'tough decisions' facing Celtics

BOSTON – Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge have conversations all the time on a wide range of topics which includes but is certainly not limited to, the Celtics players.
 
On Saturday morning the two were discussing James Young, one of the players whose future with the Green team is anything but a certainty at this point.
 
Part of the challenge in evaluating Young is that unlike most first-round picks, getting on the floor to play – big minutes in the D-League don’t count – has not been easy.
 
“He hasn’t gotten a chance to play as much as other guys and that’s hard,” Stevens said prior to Saturday’s practice.  “We see the progress here, we see the growth here. We’ll just keep chipping away.”
 
Young, drafted with the 17th overall pick in 2014, has appeared in 60 games while averaging 2.2 points, 1.1 rebounds while shooting 34.1 percent from the field and 25 percent on 3s in 8.9 minutes per game.
 
Of the 13 players drafted after Young in the first round of 2014 draft, seven have appeared in more games with nine having a higher minutes played per game average.  
 
But here’s where Young’s situation sets himself apart from the others. Five of the seven players drafted after him who have appeared in more games have never seen action in the postseason  compared to Young, who has played for nothing but playoff teams in Boston.
 
That distinction speaks volumes as to why the Celtics will be hard-pressed to make the right call when it comes to deciding Young’s fate.

“We’ve got some tough decisions at the end of the month,” Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, told Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn at the Celtics' Green and White scrimmage, which was livestreamed on CSNNE.com. “We have about five guys fighting for two spots.”
 
Young is well aware of the precarious position he’s in at camp.
 
“I haven’t been thinking much about it,” he told CSNNE.com. “I know the system very well. It’s just about playing basketball. That’s the main thing; just try to contribute.”

To Young’s credit, he did a lot of nice things on Friday that didn’t show up in the final stats but were instrumental in him being a positive contributor while on the floor. There were the deflected passes which slowed the White team down from getting into their offense quickly. He had a steal, attacked the paint and made the right pass in one sequence which led to another good pass and then a lay-up for a teammate aka the “hockey assist.” And defensively, he was solid throughout his time on the floor.
 
Said Young: “I’m just playing for the team and be myself and not let things weigh on my head; just go out and play basketball, do what I need to.”
 
In doing so, Young would create more than just a spot on the roster for himself but potentially a role off the bench.
 
And doing that would lead Ainge and Stevens into having a very different kind of conversation when it comes to Young.