A friend of mine said this Red Sox saga would make one hell of a book . . . though not if you're a Sox fan.
The latest chapter unfolded Monday when Jon Lester told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe that some of the assertions in last week's Globe story about the team culture -- which included starting pitchers drinking beer and eating fast-food chicken during games when they weren't pitching -- were true, but that it wasn't as bad as it sounded.
However, two sources I spoke to -- one inside the clubhouse and one in management -- said Lester's comments only told part of the story. Their feeling is that the behavior of Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey and, on occasion, Clay Buchholz was irresponsible, occasionally reckless, and disrespectful to manager Terry Francona.
While trying to downplay the severity and scope of their actions, Lester admitted to the Globe that he should have spent more time in the dugout during games to show support. One of them agreed, though no one complained at the time, "Most guys didn't feel like they needed to say anything," he said. "They're veterans, big boys. No one should need to be babysat."
As to Lester's feelings that Francona no longer had authority over his team, neither source disputed that. They were, however, quick to note that the now-deposed skipper always treated his players as men and that, in the end, too many didn't return the favor.
While not naming names, this line from a player who asked to remain unnamed should tell the full story: "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 bull----."
But leadership was hard to come by in the Sox clubhouse, even from those paid -- to some degree -- to provide it.
That said, the general feeling remains that the foundation here is a talented one, capable of being a frontrunner for a playoff spot and a World Series title in 2012.
"No one tanked the season," said one. "We lost, okay? We didn't perform. We all need to take responsibility for that and make sure it doesn't happen again." With several moves this offseason, "I don't see why we can't do what we all believed we could do. Got it?"