The fall out in Boston continues. Terry Francona is out, Theo Epstein has moved on to the Windy City, and I imagine there will be some players who have played their final game in Boston as the Red Sox try to move on from one of the more epic collapses in Major League Baseball history. One guy who isn’t going anywhere is Dustin Pedroia. The All Star was asked about the tumultuous end of the season and his take on all the alleged dysfunction within the clubhouse in a lengthy interview in Boston Wednesday. Pedroia joined WEEI in Boston to talk about the Boston Globe article on the team’s dysfunction, how much of the article was true, how Terry Francona managed the team and related to the players this year, whether it hurt the team to have some who weren’t as self-motivated as others, the allegations about Francona’s self-medication and personal problems, drinking during games, the departures of Theo Epstein and Francona, the August 26th double header, the players only party on John Henry’s boat and how the team will bounce back motivated as ever next season.
On the Boston Globe article on Red Sox clubhouse dysfunction:
“I’m pretty upset about it. A lot of the stuff that was said was pretty much not fair. It hurts, man. It’s not good.”
What’s true? “We’re all baseball players. I showed up to work every day ready to beat the other team. So did everyone else. We’re a family. We had the best record in baseball up until Sept. whatever, and then we ran out of gas. That doesn’t have anything to do with Tito or Theo or any players or what went on in the clubhouse. The leadership was there. We had guys that cared. We didn’t play well in the end. That’s it. We didn’t play well. That’s the bottom line. It’s not [ex-manager Terry Francona]‘s fault. It’s not anybody’s fault. We didn’t play well. It’s our whole team’s fault. We didn’t play well and we didn’t perform well and we didn’t win games when we needed to. That’s why we didn’t make the playoffs and that’s why our season ended.”
Did you sense Francona was less able to connect with the players? Did he seem different?
“To be honest with you, I played for him for five years and he’s never had to motivate me. When you play in an environment like Boston a manager should not have to motivate you. You should be self-motivated. Your team should be motivated to accomplish their goals and to be honest with you guys, we were. We just, at the end, we didn’t play well and that’s it. Everyone in that clubhouse wanted to win a World Series. Everyone can say oh some guys quit, some guys did what. In my opinion that’s a bunch of B.S. We all wanted to win. We just didn’t perform well.
It’s not for personal issues or anything like that. There’s some first-class people in the Boston Red Sox organization and I don’t think they need to be treated and stuff brought out that shouldn’t be brought out.”
Did it drag the clubhouse down to have a couple people who weren’t self-motivated?
No, not really. We try out hardest as players to police each other. [Jason Varitek] is the best. From what I’ve read he’s taken some shots about being the captain and how he wasn’t being a leader. That’s false. Tek’s in there. He says things to me. He says things to everybody. He’ll say things to Jacoby to make him a better player, to everybody. The leadership, I know 7-20 in September looks bad and everybody can say the lack of leadership, but that’s not true. We all wanted to win. We were all headed in the right direction. We didn’t. That’s basically it. They outplayed us in the end. Teams beat us that shouldn’t have beat us and that’s it. There’s nothing more to it.”
Were you surprised by the allegations of Francona’s self-medication and personal problems? Why would anyone say that about Francona?
“I’m not surprised by anything, but it hurts. I played with this guy for five years and he’s had everyone’s back since Day One. He might take the hit for some things and the way the team’s playing and stuff like that, but from Day One this guy had my back, he’s had everyone’s back. He’s protected every single guy in that clubhouse and that’s why I respect him like you can’t believe. Whatever job he gets, if he needs me for a couple of games or whatever just let me know, I’ll go play for free. That’s how much I care about this guy. This guy is my family. For him to have to deal with this, he’s the best manager in the history of the Red Sox organization. He won two World Series, look at the run that he’s had there, it’s pretty remarkable. That’s the part that hurts and whoever the person it is that’s saying this, I think they need to take a step back and kind of look in the mirror and understand what they’re saying about a guy. A lot of guys in this organization have his back and I’m definitely one of them. So are a lot of other big parts of our team.”
Why haven’t other people publicly supported Francona?
“Probably because other people, they don’t like talking to the media. When the season’s over, it’s not like they’re going to pick up their phone. I don’t blame them. You guys all know, I’m psycho. All this stuff, I take it personal. I take it to heart. This hurts, man. I think about it every night. I watch all the playoff games. I sit there. My wife probably hates me. It’s a part of the job, thinking what could I have done differently to help us win one more game. Other guys are probably thinking it, too. … We love Tito, man. I don’t know why more people didn’t voice it.”
Might you feel differently than your teammates?
“These guys are all my family. I care about every single one of them. Whether they’re doing good or they’re doing bad or they made a mistake or they didn’t make a mistake, we’re all in this together. Yeah, we had the biggest collapse in the history of baseball in September. So we’ve got to own that, come back next year motivated and prove to everybody that we can all do it together.
I learned from my mistakes. I learned from failure. Look at me in April in 2007, I was horrible. But look at me now:
One of the best players in baseball. That’s what we need to get back to as a team. We all failed together in September. We’re going to come back stronger, and prove to everyone that we’re the team that everyone was talking about at the beginning of last year.”
Have the departures of GM Theo Epstein and Francona made you rethink your future in Boston?
Chicago, baby. “It’s a nice city. My wife’s from there. … It’s going to be a little bit different. Theo obviously drafted me and Tito’s the only manager I’ve played for so it’s going to be a little bit different, but an organization that’s given me an opportunity to play professional baseball, from my heart I want to play there my whole career. Whatever changes they go on, I’m sure and they know how I feel. I want to be there my whole career. I want to go through the winning and even I want to go through the September collapses together. We’re in this together. You’ve got to think that way in Boston. It’s tough. There’s a lot of things that are thrown at you throughout the year even in the offseason. Even me on vacation talking to you guys. There’s a lot of things that other markets don’t have. But we’ve got to deal with it and take it full steam. I hope I get to do that my whole career.”
Is your leadership style to lead by example:
“Everyone’s different. We have a lot of leaders on our team. That’s the thing, when I read, that kind of gets to me. Tek’s the type that leads by example but when you get out of line he’s going to say a couple of things to you and there’s no questions asked and there’s no barking back, you do it. That’s how Tek runs his ship and it’s very effective.
He’s pretty scary. You guys all see him.
I get to the field at 1 and I go to work. That’s what I do. I’m hitting all the time. I’m taking groundballs. I don’t ever have a chance to sit down and think about what I’m doing. It’s always, whatever I have to do today to help us win, that’s what I have to do. … The way I lead I think is more by example but I’m always talking to the guys in situations and stuff like that. Obviously I’m approachable. I’m always talking. I think guys probably want me to shut up but there’s a lot of different types of leaders on our team that do it a certain way.”
How would you feel if the owners wanted to ban beer from the clubhouse?
“Jeez, I don’t drink. I’ll have a beer once a month. … Baseball’s my life. Baseball and my son. That’s basically it. I don’t drink. But we’re all grown men. The way I see the stuff that’s been coming out, we’re all grown men. If you want to have a few beers after the game, that’s fine. If you go 0-for-4 with two punchouts and need to have a couple of beers, have a couple of beers. That’s after the game, though. I’m playing. I missed playing three games this year. One of them I was back in Boston getting my knee checked out. I don’t know what’s going on back in the clubhouse. Neither do a lot of guys during the game. I don’t look down towards the people you guys are saying were doing that by any means. I just hope it doesn’t affect their play on the field. If it affects their play on the field, then we need to make an adjustment. But if it doesn’t, I don’t really care what you do to get yourself right for the game.
I remember, didn’t Derek Jeter, didn’t he eat McDonald’s or something all the time before the game when he was younger? There’s a lot of different guys do it a certain way. As long as you go out there and perform and help your team win, I don’t care what you do.”
Can position leaders bring pitchers in line?
“To be honest, our guys, our starting pitchers, they work hard. Dave Page, our strength guy, makes them work. We just didn’t play well. We didn’t execute pitches at the right time, we didn’t make the play when we needed it, we didn’t get the big hit when we needed it. That’s it. There’s nothing more.”
Given your background, does it upset you if teammates don’t do everything they can to maximize their skill set?
“No. Everybody’s different. That’s the way I look at, not only in baseball, but in life. Not everyone’s made like me. Not everyone is made like anyone else. Whatever, in my opinion, whatever it takes for someone to be motivated to play, do it, whether that be listening to music before the game or not listening to music, meditating. I don’t know what some guys do. It doesn’t bother me. As long as we have 25 people pointed in the right direction, trying to help the Boston Red Sox win, that’s all I care about. We didn’t win. So we’ll give it a shot next year. We’ve got to find a way to get everyone pointed in the right direction. We’ll do that.”
Were you upset about the Aug. 26 doubleheader?
“I didn’t mind playing the doubleheader. It was basically up to the position players. I had to play 18 innings that day with a screw in my foot. Jacoby [Ellsbury] played whatever amount of games, it’s late in the year, we’re all beat up. The position players all said, ‘We’ll do it,’ because we were going to get two days off. Where I think a lot of guys were upset, including myself, were the conditions we were playing in in that game. It was bad. It was borderline to the point where you watch your step, not worry about winning, let’s worry about getting out of here healthy, especially me. I’ve got a screw in my foot, and I’m playing in standing water at second base and they keep dumping the tarp over there. I’m thinking, ‘It’s August 27, we’ve got a month to go, we’re 30 games over .500 at the time, I think Lester was pitching one of the games, I don’t want Lester pulling his groin throwing a pitch and he misses six weeks and that affects us. I think a lot of guys were unhappy about the conditions we were playing in and what times we started the game, but nobody was upset because we had to. The hurricane’s coming, man. We’ve got to get the games in or play them at the end. Nobody’s unhappy about that. I think we were unhappy about the conditions. It was dangerous.”
On the player’s only party on principal owner John Henry’s boat:
“On John Henry’s boat, you guys ever been on that thing? It’s pretty sick. It was awesome. … We all went out there and talked about our team. We were struggling at the time. We came back from our road trip. We needed that, but when we got back, we just didn’t play well. That’s basically it. But I’ll tell you what, I’ve never seen a boat like that. I might see if I can live on it for a couple days. That thing, wow. That’s out of my pay rate, man.”
People in Boston are upset.