Jon Lester recently confirmed reports that he, Josh Beckett and John Lackey occasionally drank beer in the Red Sox's clubhouse during games, saying the trio would sometimes drink a "ninth-inning rally beer" on days they weren't pitching. In hindsight, he said, "it was the wrong thing to do," but denied it had any effect on the pitching staff's struggles down the stretch.
On Tuesday, a new round of allegations were lobbed at Boston's embattled pitching staff, claiming Beckett, Lester and Lackey did not confine their in-game drinking to the clubhouse but instead poured cans of Bud Light into cups which they took back to the dugout. WHDH-TV, Boston's NBC affiliate, cites two unnamed Red Sox employees who claim this would happen as early as the sixth inning, regardless of whether the Red Sox were winning or losing. From WHDH-TV's website:
One Red Sox employee said Beckett, Lester and Lackey appeared "bored on nights they weren't pitching and this is how they entertained themselves."
Another Red Sox employee described the routine like this: "Beckett would come down the stairs from the dugout, walking through the corridor to the clubhouse and say ‘it's about that time'. Becket was the instigator but Lester and Lackey were right behind him.
It was blatant and hard not to notice what was going on with all three guys leaving at once."
The Red Sox deny this ever happened, issuing the following statements Tuesday evening from the accused pitchers as well as former manager Terry Francona and current president/CEO Larry Luchino:
JON LESTER: "The accusation that we were drinking in the dugout during games is completely false. Anonymous sources are continuing to provide exaggerated and, in this case, inaccurate information to the media.
JOSH BECKETT: "I cannot let this allegation go without response; enough is enough. I admit that I made mistakes along the way this season, but this has gone too far. To say that we drank in the dugout during the game is not true."
JOHN LACKEY: "There are things that went on this season that shouldn't have happened, but this latest rumor is not true, and I felt that it was important to try to stop this from going any further."
TERRY FRANCONA: "In 32 years of professional baseball, I have never seen someone drinking beer in the dugout."
PRESIDENT/CEO LARRY LUCCHINO ON BEHALF OF THE BOSTON RED SOX: "Tonight our organization has heard directly from Jon, Josh, John, and former manager Terry Francona. Each has assured us that the allegation that surfaced today about drinking in the dugout during games in 2011 is false, and we accept their statements as honest and factual.
"As we continue our internal examination to fully understand what went wrong in September, 2011, we appreciate these strong and clear statements from our players.
"It is time to look forward and move forward, rather than allow a reckless, unsubstantiated accusation from 'anonymous sources' to mislead the public."
As frustrating as it may be for players to defend themselves from anonymous sources, any lower-level team employee publicly standing by these allegations would certainly put his or her job at risk -- not to mention risk being unofficially blackballed from working for any other MLB team.
On the other hand, the intense media scrutiny surrounding this situation has given any disgruntled team employee who's ever felt slighted or unappreciated by the players a chance to get even, with readers having no way to gauge the trustworthiness of the claims. Simply put, it's impossible to know who's telling the truth and who's lying, so either enjoy the soap opera or tune it out.