Red Sox: Tempest in a teapot or division?

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JULY 22: Starting pitcher David Price
ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - JULY 22: Starting pitcher David Price /

The Boston Red Sox are in disarray if you subscribe to the persistent media reports. Is this just overkill on normal friction during a season?

Does it really make a difference? Controversy is swirling around the Red Sox like a level five hurricane, but is it really that significant?  Is it just the external ramblings of a media that needs something to feed the machine? Is David Price now the ultimate bad guy?  A baseball version of The Iron Sheik? Has John Farrell totally lost control of the inner sanctum?  Is ownership both protective and enablers?

Twenty-five players are what the roster states, but the reality is it is more in the line of 20 players as the remaining five are in a constant state of flux. The 2004 championship team had 50 players during the season. Last season also had 50 players as some were in for a short stay of just a game or two and gone.  Baseball is like that – an itinerant game with an exceptionally long season.

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The roster is usually a diverse group economically, socially, educationally, emotionally and most certainly with talent.  A pecking order does exist. Also within the long season you can certainly expect conflicts to surface and historically the majority stays internal – a baseball what happens in Vegas. Some leak out like the Price incident with Dennis Eckersley. I am sure Eckersley has seen behaviors good and bad in his very long career.

Within a business environment, you will have conflict – a clash of personalities that can have management spend far too much time and resources attempting to quell disenchantment – been there and seen that. Also being forced to deal with it. Conflict resolution should be on management job descriptions, but often they can be the culprit.

Are the Red Sox in disarray? Reading the media and forcing myself to listen to the bleating of talk shows one would say they are ready to have a Night of the Long Knives. But baseball history is cluttered with teams that lived in conflict, both internal and external. Go no further south than New York, where the Yankees captured the term “Bronx Zoo.”

Billy Martin, George Steinbrenner and Reggie Jackson with a strong supporting cast. On the surface, one would expect this volatile group to be buried in last place, but the late 70s saw two World Series championships.

The Oakland Athletics were a dynasty in the early 1970s with a thunderous group that fought among themselves and took special delight in antagonizing owner Charlie Finley. The A’s won three titles. Conversely, I am sure there are teams that simply had wondrous talent yet, let strife, friction, and in-fighting overwhelm them.

Players are competitive and that competition is to perform as best you can since it means money and personal pride. I happen to subscribe to the idea that the majority will try their damndest to avoid failure despite the length of contract and dollars. There is a real ego issue at play – no one wishes to be embarrassed and humiliated before thousands live and millions on videos.

Players also know who is just an idiot and who is not.  Their own personalities are now well-defined and if they happen to be obstinate, abrasive and unruly they will gravitate to similar personalities. Likewise, the more even keeled will tend to associate with similar personalities.  A team is – no matter what is stated – a group of cliques. You can see this in just about any business, social setting, and so on. It is how those cliques function with each other that is the glue or what rips it apart.

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Price – now a designated target of the media – is easy to define using a paraphrase of Dr. Phil: “Past and present behaviors are indicative of future behaviors.” Do not expect Price to suddenly take a mega dose injection of contriteness, humility and love of “Knights of the keyboard.”

So – just maybe – this is nothing more than a baseball tempest in a teapot. The result of normal frustration, divergent personalities and a very long season. Players with different personalities that may be accepted or rejected by the masses. The Red Sox also have motivational and behavioral staff. Maybe they are involved on a regular basis?

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Various “bad guys” are now surfacing based on “informed sources.” Incidents are natural, but just at what level does the media response become overkill? Maybe we have reached that point and exceeded it?