Jon Lester said he's not proud of what happened. Josh Beckett called it a "lapse in judgment." Clay Buchholz said he'll learn from "bad decisions." David Ortiz says it won't happen again. We will merely point out that a Major League Baseball team drank beer, and it's been a story for four-and-a-half months.
The Globe's authoritative shit-shoveling upon the 2011 Red Sox has defined a Boston offseason that in other, quieter times would be notable for things that actually matter. Say, a championship-building GM leaving in a cloud of acrimony, or an owner admitting, then backtracking from, the fact that he didn't really support that huge free agent signing. These are important things that might affect a team! Let's ignore them, because beer and fried chicken.
At the behest of new manager Bobby Valentine (whose mug appeared on his own endorsed line of Japanese beer), alcohol is now officially banned from the Red Sox clubhouse.
"It's just what I've always done," Valentine said, pretending this move has nothing to do with all the goddamn questions you people keep asking him about beer. Eighteen other MLB teams also ban booze in the clubhouse, and eighteen other teams don't make a stink when players somehow finagle a can of beer after a long game, or on an off-day, and there's no reason to think the Red Sox won't join these hallowed ranks.
Former Boston skipper Terry Francona calls it "a PR move," and to that we say "duh." "I think if a guy wants a beer, he can probably get one," Francona said, because ballplayers are not children and Terry Francona isn't a moron and I don't know how to make this clearer: the Red Sox did not collapse because some players drank beer in the clubhouse.
"Wow was it a PR move?" Valentine fired back today. "Were 20 teams looking for PR when they made good decisions?" Well, yes. Obviously. There's a media furnace to feed, and there's no shame in Valentine denying it that bit of fuel. It was Clay Buchholz, noted beer drinker, who pointed out that there was more Boston clubhouse drinking in past seasons, seasons that didn't end in 7-20 Septembers. And the Rays, who surged past the Red Sox, welcome the occasional tipple after a game.
No one was actually mad about the beer and fried chicken. They were mad about the late-season collapse. If he could, Bobby Valentine would prohibit late-season collapses. But a ban on losing has about as much chance of being enforced as a ban on beer, and not as much appeal to the loud, dumb, and reactionary.