Do the Red Sox need to apologize?

674496.jpg

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

Blakely: Tatum's character separates him from many of the other rookies

Blakely: Tatum's character separates him from many of the other rookies

BOSTON – With his new head coach Brad Stevens and Boston Celtics ownership and front office officials surrounding him, Jayson Tatum’s mind seemed to be somewhere else briefly.

He looked ahead, way, way ahead to the other end of the Celtics’ practice court where there were banners, lots of banners, raised high above all else in the gym.

This wasn’t just a passing glance, either.

TATUM SPEAKS

It was clear that the newest Celtic was in deep thought as he stared at the 17 banners and the one left blank, a steady reminder of what this franchise is about, past and present.

Yes, it’s a lot to soak in for anyone let alone a 19-year-old kid whose career with the Celtics can be timed on a stopwatch.

But the soft-spoken 6-foot-9 forward has been here long enough to understand that success around here is about more than playing well; it’s playing to win a championship.

And that in many ways separates Tatum from his teenage brethren who made up the majority of Thursday night’s NBA draft which included an NBA-record 17 players taken in the first round who like Tatum, were just one year removed from high school.

All come into the NBA with lots to learn, as well as goals and aspirations for this upcoming NBA season.

During an interview with CSN on Friday, I asked Tatum about what in his mind would make for a successful season.

And his answer initially was to ask me a question, “Individual or team?”

So I replied, either one.

“To get back to where they were last year and get over that hump,” he said. “Championships, chasing that number 18, that would be the ultimate success for me.”

That served as a reminder as to why despite having a handful of players under consideration at No. 3, the Celtics did the right thing in selecting Tatum.

His words may seem like the politically correct response, but take a look at the kid’s basketball resume and you’ll quickly see he is indeed about winning and doing so in whatever way possible.

After missing his first eight games at Duke with a foot injury, Tatum gradually improved as the season progressed and wound up on the all-rookie team as well as being named to the All-ACC third team.

Once the Blue Devils got to the ACC Tournament, Tatum became a different, better, more dominant player.

Indeed, Tatum led the Blue Devils to their first ACC championship since 2011 and did so in historic fashion as the Blue Devils became the first ACC school to win the conference tournament with four wins in four days.

Late in the title game against Notre Dame, Tatum put together a sequence of plays that speaks to why the Celtics were seriously considering taking him with the number one overall pick had they not been able to trade it for the No. 3 and a future first-round pick.

With the scored tied at 65, Tatum made a free throw that put Duke ahead.

Moments later, he blocked a shot and finished off the play with a lay-up that gave Duke a three-point lead.

After a Notre Dame basket, Tatum connected with a teammate for a 3-pointer that pushed Duke’s lead to four points with around a minute to play.

And then there was the 3-point play Tatum converted after getting fouled on a dunk which secured a 76-69 Duke win over the Fighting Irish.

Free throws. Blocks. Getting out in transition. Passing.

When his team needed him most, he gave whatever was required at that moment which is one of the intangibles that makes Boston feel good about his future.

“He does whatever he has to do to help you win,” said an NBA scout who said he has seen Tatum play “at least a dozen times.”

He added, “Like all of these kids coming into the league now, he has some things he has to get better at, get more consistent with. But he makes winning plays, whether it’s for himself or others. He’s a lot more unselfish a player than he’s given credit for being.”

And he’s 19 years old, which is both a blessing and a burden when you’re an NBA team executive charged with committing at least two years and millions of dollars into a young man.

Part of the process when making a draft choice, especially when it’s one of the top picks, is character evaluation.

Of the players at or near the top of the draft board, multiple league executives contacted by CSNNE.com in the past couple of weeks said this was an area where Tatum stood out in comparison to all of the top prospects.

“He’s the kind of young man you’d love whether he was a basketball player or not,” one Western Conference executive told CSNNE.com. “If you’re ranking guys on character alone in this draft, he’s your number one pick.”

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, acknowledged the challenge of differentiating between miscues made by a teenager as being problems of concern going forward, or whether that’s a teenager making the kind of bad/questionable decisions most teens make.

“It’s dangerous to play too much into a 19-year-old kid’s behavior,” Ainge told CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper on Friday. “But I think that, with all the things we do, from physical, emotional, mental, character, work ethic and their skills … it’s just really hard at 19. You hate to just be labeled what you are at 18.”

But in regards to Tatum specifically, Ainge added, “Jayson is a high character guy. We know he will get better because of his character and his work ethic.”

Said Tatum: “It’s a great feeling. Being part of a great organization like the Celtics; think of all the great players of the past and you can follow in their footsteps.”

And in doing so, blaze a trail of his own in the pursuit of Banner 18.

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

red_sox_david_price_062417.jpg

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

BOSTON — David Price and Rick Porcello showed improvement on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday, important signs for the Red Sox after a difficult month for both pitchers prior to this homestand.

Price on Saturday night went six innings and allowed three runs, two earned, in a 6-3 loss to the Angels. He fanned five and his velocity has been consistently better this year than last year.

But the most important number was his walk total: one. He walked three batters in his previous start, and four in both of his starts prior.

“Two outings ago, the first start here in Fenway,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “There was better timing in his delivery and overall better separation over the rubber. And he carried that through I thought, even though there's a higher pitch count in Houston, and has been able to maintain it here. I can't say there was one specific thing. It's been more the timing over the rubber. And you're seeing him pitch out of the stretch exclusively. Just less moving parts in a better position to repeat it.”

After Price’s final inning, the telecast captured Price calling pitching coach Carl Willis into the tunnel. Neither Farrell nor Price detailed the conversation. 

“Yeah, everything was fine,” Farrell said of the conversation. “Everything is OK there.”

Price made it sound like he’s dealing with some sort of physical ailment, but was vague.

“There's a lot of stuff going on right now,” the pitcher said when asked about the desire to stay out there. “You don't want it to linger into the next start, or two or three weeks from now, and that's why we did what we did.”

Asked to elaborate, Price reinforced that the decision was to save his body for another day.

“You never want to come out of a game. But you have to look forward at the time,” Price said. “You don’t want today to cost you your next start or you know, the start after that. So that’s what happened.

“It has nothing to do with my elbow or anything like that. This is — you get past one thing and there’s another So that’s what it is.”

Price in New York in early June felt a blister develop on his ring finger. He missed an in-between start bullpen because of it.

Asked about the blister Saturday, Price said, “That one’s gone.”

Farrell indicated the blister was diminished, if not entirely gone.

“He's been dealing with that,” Farrell said. “I think while it's still present and maybe not as severe as it was when it first happened, I'm sure he's going to check on it occasionally."