The 2011 Red Sox had it all--superstars all over the roster, first place in the AL East, a stretch from April to August where they went 80-41, and a first class ticket to their third World Series since 2004. Then it all came crashing down.
Today, the Boston Globe talks to the people who lived it, and what emerges is a gripping tale of hubris that was destined for disaster. Go Behind The Monster after the jump.
It all began with a music video.
In springtime, there proved to be regrettable irony in the entire starting rotation - Beckett, Lackey, Lester, Tim Wakefield, and Clay Buchholz - donning Sox uniforms and hamming it up in front of the Green Monster for a video of a country music ditty, "Hell Yeah, I Like Beer.’’
And then there was the fried chicken and video games...
Drinking beer in the Sox clubhouse is permissible. So is ordering take-out chicken and biscuits. Playing video games on one of the clubhouse’s flat-screen televisions is OK, too. But for the Sox pitching trio to do all three during games ... violated an unwritten rule that players support each other, especially in times of crisis.
Francona spent the season living in a hotel after he moved out of the Brookline home he shared with Jacque, his wife of nearly 30 years. But he adamantly denied his marital problems affected his job performance.
Team sources also expressed concern that Francona’s performance may have been affected by his use of pain medication, which he also vehemently denied. Francona said he has taken pain medicine for many years, particularly after multiple knee surgeries.
"I went and saw the proper people and it was not an issue,’’ Francona said. "It never became an issue, and anybody who knew what was going on knows that.’’
The 39-year-old catcher, in a brief conversation, chastised a reporter for calling him at home and otherwise declined to comment.
In the end, there were just too many egos.
As Hurricane Irene barreled toward Boston in late August, management proposed moving up the Sunday finale of a weekend series against Oakland so the teams could play a day-night doubleheader ... The players accused management of caring more about making money than winning, which marked the first time the team’s top executives sensed serious trouble brewing in the clubhouse.
And not even yachts and headphones could fix their problems.
Sox owners soon suspected the team’s poor play was related to lingering resentment over the scheduling dispute, sources said. The owners responded by giving all the players $300 headphones and inviting them to enjoy a players-only night on principal owner John W. Henry’s yacht after they returned from a road trip Sept. 11.
But the gestures made no difference. The hapless Sox became the laughingstocks of baseball as they went from holding a two-game divisional lead over the Yankees after the Aug. 27 doubleheader - and a nine-game advantage in the wild-card race over the Rays - to finishing a humiliating third in the AL East.
There were just too many egos... too many painkiller rumors... Too much fried chicken. Not even little ol' Dusty Pedroia--the one who played for the love all along--could stop what happened to the Boston Red Sox in 2011. The fall of Camelot was inevitable. The only question now is whether the rest of us will learn from it.
The lesson: If you're part of one of the biggest collapses in major league history, it doesn't even matter whether you did anything wrong. At some point, you'll have to face the music with melodramatic media looking for scapegoats. And that's how Behind The Monster happened.