Giardi: Sox clubhouse became a poison center

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Giardi: Sox clubhouse became a poison center

What happened in the Red Sox clubhouse this season was reminiscent of the dark days of 2001, when this franchise was a barren tree, fruitlessly and incompetently searching for a title that eluded them for decades. The problems that developed this season -- players against players, players versus management, and now, in typical fashion, the brass sniping and scapegoating everyone but themselves -- brought back those dark memories.

In conversations with sources both inside the locker room and in the front office, some disturbing stories emerged:

Carl Crawford kept more and more to himself as the season progressed, largely because the clubhouse culture here was unlike any he'd experienced during his decade with Tampa Bay. A consummate pro, Crawford had once grabbed Pat Burrell and thrown him up against a wall, angrily telling Burrell that his unprofessional ways were not accepted in the Rays' clubhouse. Tampa Bay management had their speedy outfielder's back, trading Burrell a short time later. That's the kind of cache Crawford had in that room, and with that organization.

But in Boston, Crawford apparently felt he couldn't exert his influence because he wasn't one of the veterans who understood what the Sox organization considered acceptable and what had led them to victory. Finally, late in the season but before the team entered its death spiral, Crawford had had enough. He launched into an impassioned speech, imploring teammates to get it together. It fell on deaf ears.

As for the now-infamous "Go ask the captain" line, Crawford had an issue with the reporter who asked the question -- about that person's relationship with Jason Varitek -- and not Varitek himself. What followed, with 'Tek going over and hugging Crawford, was considered as nothing more than a dog-and-pony show, done to put a happy face on an unhappy locker room.

Crawford wasn't the only newcomer marginalized by the Sox' toxic culture. The other big offseason acquisition, Adrian Gonzalez, was dumbfounded by the lack of professionalism that surrounded him, and couldn't believe it was allowed to continue. And while he struggled with a variety of injuries that sapped him of his power, Gonzalez still showed up, still worked, still competed. The same couldn't be said of some of his new teammates.

If there's anyone who epitomizes what Theo Epstein tried to build in Boston, it's Dustin Pedroia. A blood-and-guts guy, one who took groundballs on his knees a year ago with his broken foot in a cast, Pedroia lives to play, lives to compete. Yet Pedroia became more and more like an island unto himself, isolated by veterans who believed that, because of his relationship with former manager Terry Francona, he couldn't be trusted. It was often joked that Francona was Pedroia's father, but that joking apparently led to the point where Pedroia found his influence on the clubhouse minimized.

The Boston Globe's characterization of Jacoby Ellsbury is incomplete. Yes, he was more distant this season than in the past, and some of that stems from his distrust of the organization (resulting from his misdiagnosed rib injury a year ago) and of some teammates (who called him out for it). But the root of that mistrust goes much deeper. Ellsbury has always been viewed as private, a one-man corporation, and aloof to a degree. No one can argue with the performance he had this season, how hard he played, but he's not a universally loved figure in that locker room.

In the days that followed Francona's dismissal, very few Sox players stepped to his defense. Francona was understandably hurt by that, but it wasn't as if he didn't see it coming. Players whom Francona had defended (Varitek), supported through difficult times (David Ortiz) and considered to be almost like a son (Jon Lester) had already tuned him out long before the late collapse.

Their silence was just a reinforcement of how bad the Red Sox clubhouse had gotten and -- sources reiterated -- how it will remain until those responsible for it are moved out or held accountable for their failings, both on and off the field.

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Youkilis weighs in on Valentine possibly being Japan ambassador

Among the reactions to the news that Bobby Valentine was possibly being considered to be the US amassador to Japan in President Donald Trump’s administration was this beauty from Kevin Youkilis. 

Valentine famously called out Youkilis early in his stormy tenure as Red Sox manager in 2012. Remember? "I don't think he's as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason," Bobby V said of Youk at the time. 

The Red Sox traded Youkilis to the White Sox for two not-future Hall of Famers, outfielder Brent Lillibridge and right-hander Zach Stewart, later that season.

Youkilis, now Tom Brady’s brother-in-law by the way, had a 21-game stint playing in Japan in 2014 before retiring from baseball. 

 

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Report: Bobby Valentine could be Trump’s US ambassador to Japan

Major league manager. Inventor of the wrap sandwich. Champion ballroom dancer.  And…

US ambassador to Japan?

Bobby Valentine is on the short list for that position in President Donald Trump’s administration, according to a WEEI.com report.

The former Red Sox manager (fired after a 69-93 season and last-place finish in 2012), and ex-New York Mets and Texas Rangers, skipper, also managed the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons. 

When asked by the New York Daily News if he's being considered for the post, Valentine responded: "I haven't been contacted by anyone on Trump's team." 

Would he be interested?

"I don't like to deal in hypotheticals," Valentine told the Daily News.

Valentine, 66, has known the President-elect and Trump's brother Bob since the 1980s, is close to others on Trump’s transition team and has had preliminary discussions about the ambassador position, sources told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. 

Valentine, currently the athletic director of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., is also friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like Valentine, attended the University of Southern California.